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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

25 Sep 2014 1:51 PM
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Before I get into the details of my 10 cents worth on this, I need to categorically state that yes! I am an iPhone 6 Plus owner myself. Having just recently returned from two weeks in Iceland, I was a little behind the curve on reserving my phone, and had to travel to Watford to secure the model I was after - this last Tuesday in fact.

 

By happenstance, on the same day I acquired said phone, ’Bendgate’ was just starting to rear its ugly head, and this is before the ’bricking’ issue of the iOS 8.0.1 update release, which Apple hastily recalled without further explanation or excuse.

 

I have to say that I really like the phone, but more of that later... the thing is, I’ve never really understood this obsession with being the thinnest, particularly with phones - more understandable for laptops and desktops. Weight is an important consideration, as is feel and practical usage - wafer-thinness, is certainly not conducive to the best touchy feely experience - I really don’t think the phones need to be any thinner. In fact, I could stand a couple of additional millimetres if this made for a better battery life.

 

From an engineering / structural standpoint, making something thin and long means it has inherently added flex, and more propensity to buckle - particularly for a non-elastic metal like aluminium, which is relatively brittle compared to most carbon steel alloys. Airplanes / airplane wings are made from thin aluminium, but they have ribs, braces, membranes and struts to give them added strength and rigidity. Apple could also have utilised more advanced lamination techniques to increase the strength of the phone chassis without adding too much weight or thickness.

 

Apple is of course new to the large phone form factor, and it sounds like insufficient stress testing has been done on these production models - of the type that Ikea does:

constantly to test wear and tear / longevity of its many furnishings. Product launch cycles are relatively short these days, and I can easily understand how something like this may have been missed in general population testing. My phone is in a lovely Apple leather case which gives it further protection, but I will not be putting it to any stress tests myself. I have an aversion to tight jeans (as I’ve noted previously), and rarely carry my phone in

... Thinnest is not always best!
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

23 Sep 2014 1:31 PM
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I have just returned from a two week vacation in Iceland, and was fortunate enough to join in a sightseeing fly-by of the current Bárðarbunga / Holuhraun eruption. The above picture (not related to my fly-by) is courtesy of Paolo Sicoli and captures the essential magic of Iceland, in this instance two of nature’s most wonderful phenomena - volcanic eruption with the added sparkle of the northern lights.

 

Flight NY 1808 was a special scheduled daytime flight by national inland airline Air Iceland - departing from the actual Reykjavík Airport (not to be confused with Keflavík which is the seat of the International airport). Flight-time was near enough 2 hours - with 45 minutes of journey time each way, and 30 minutes sightseeing of the actual eruption and neighbouring areas. There were 25 of us in the Fokker 50 - window seats only, and including volcanologist Steindór who was our guide.

 

The flight coincided with the best weather of my vacation - clear blue skies, at least from Hofsjökull onwards - one of only 3 rain-free days during my stay. For most of the approach flight the airplane remained above the cloudline, but as we neared Vatnajökull - Europe’s largest ice cap, and the location of the source of the eruption, we moved lower to get a good view of the surrounding landscape.

 

The first thing you see is the steaming lava field of Holuhraun, now nearing 40kmsq, then a molten river of lava, followed by the 3 current active spouts of the eruption, the original spout (which would make 4) is no longer active. The precursor to the eruption was a series of earthquakes starting August 16th - more than 1,000 per day - most with an epicentre in a channel between the Bárðarbunga caldera and the Dyngjujökull part of Vatnajökull. (see inset map below)

 

The eruption started at 00:02 on the 29th August when a fissure opened up roughly 5km north of Dyngjujökull - circa half-way between Dyngjujökull and the currently inactive Askja caldera which contains a most wonderfully green-hued lagoon. The root volcano system is Bárðarbunga - the caldera of which is gradually subsiding and which lies some 30km to the southwest of the erupting fissure.

 

You can view the 3 shots I took in the below sequence (after the map references). The best video

... Iceland's Bárðarbunga volcano is still erupting continuously
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

10 Sep 2014 5:34 PM
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My last iPhone review happens to coincide with my current iPhone - the 4S.

 

I wrote [then] under ’Misses’:

  • No 4" Screen
  • No 4G
  • No NFC
  • No real chassis improvements - same but different antenna, same fragile glass sandwich

I also wrote back in 2010, a prescient article called ’Mobile Commerce - The New Currency’ all about the kind of Apple Pay functionality (NFC) which was announced in yesterday’s Keynote address.(Albeit now with the even more clever fingerprint Touch ID solution Apple has engineered.)

 

My first ever iPhone was the 3S - 32GB version (finally delivering on all my then expectations / requirements). I was delighted that 2011’s 4S doubled the memory to 64GB, since I find I always use all the memory I am given. For a very long time now, I have been waiting for 3 things really - a larger form factor, 128GB memory and NFC.

 

The iPhone sixes, finally have all the functionality I needed, after introducing 2 very iterative series 5s, which I always felt had an overly fragile and mis-engineered glass chassis (because of ongoing signal / antennae issues).

 

When I saw the first pictures of the iPhone sixes, I was not immediately taken in by the design, but the more time I spend with it, the more I like it. I also decided very quickly that the beautiful curvature of the glass really only works to perfection with the black front facia of the Space Grey edition.

 

Like I said previously, I was exstatic to finally be getting 128GB, so there was no question I would be getting one. It was just a matter of whether to go for the 4.7" version or or the 5.5" phablet.

 

In comparing the specs, the infinitely superior playback time is what really swung the vote. Also, when I work, I almost always work in split-screen mode whether on laptop or on desktop - seeing that the 6 Plus had clever layout variations for landscape mode was another thing that pushed me towards the larger model. In typical fashion I have measuered the phone against most of the coat pockets I will carry it in, and the circa 16 x 8 x 0.7 cm dimensions are large for sure, but can perfectly easily be accommodated.

 

Android fans will rightly of course say that there are far better spec’d Android phones already in the markeplace and due imminently, and they’re right. Samsung, Sony and the like

... Apple finally delivers much needed feature-set with iPhone 6
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

03 Sep 2014 2:51 PM
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It seems that current fashion is still somewhat in thrall to the 80’s, as has been the vogue for much of the last decade and a half - and not really the parts that I loved. As a child of the 80’s I actually have quite the phobia for what were then termed ’drain-pipe’ or ’pipe-cleaner’ jeans - at their worst in stone-washed, distressed and torn varieties. I have naturally skinny legs and therefore no real wish to appear like some exotic wading bird.

 

Historically there have been circa 10 classifications / mainline trouser cuts / styles:

  • Wide-leg
  • Baggy
  • Loose
  • Flared
  • Bootcut
  • Straight-leg
  • Regular
  • Tapered
  • Slim
  • Skinny

When scouring the shops recently for a pair of semi-smart straight-leg black cotton chinos I came up quite empty-handed after a good day’s runaround. Although an extreme example, Topman is a good case in point, currently only offering up variations of:

  • Stretch Skinny
  • Vintage Skinny
  • Skinny
  • Spray On
  • Super Spray On

It seems that contemporary legwear is no true friend of man, as recent variations have seen the most uncomfortable and impractical variations of ’nut-crackers’ and ’butt-flashers’ with highly restrictive low-waist / no-waist editions too - they’re barely sufferable standing up - sitting down in them though is quite the experience! I am in no means opposed to diverse cuts, even though some of the drop-crotch and cropped versions are sublimely ridiculous - surely you don’t need to reveal every facet of epidermal and anatomical detail. My personal taste tends to Straight-leg, Bootcut and Wide-leg which are all currently somewhat impossible to find in general circulation.

 

The latest menswear must-have is now the ’Jogger’ / ’Jogging Bottoms’ or elasticated cuff tracksuit bottoms. ’Joggers’ are a further example of the more practical evolution to sportswear. 2-3 years ago catwalk models started sporting trainers instead of high-heels and formal shoes, as for most consumers this is now their preferred mode of footwear. Isabel Marant was the pioneer of designer wedge trainers, and Giuseppe Zanotti is the king of the luxe high-top trainer. If you visit Selfridges’ shoe department, you cannot move for designer trainers - mostly high-tops, and many retailing in the near £1,000 price range

... Fashion enforces slimmer choice in men's legwear!
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

27 Aug 2014 12:56 PM
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Readers of my blog will know that I am quite the armchair festival fan - avidly following at least Coachella and Glastonbury via live-streaming every year and from the comfort of my lounge. I believe at some stage in the near future, we will be able to view the entire 4-day spectacle via a festival attendee proxy, and be able to witness the whole immersive nature of these events via virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Rift. It would simply be a matter of selecting your POV Avatar Proxy and then logging on as it were - you could even switch Avatars if you get bored with your current one’s choices; or if you paid extra perhaps you could even set the itinerary / schedule ...

 

An interesting development this year has been the rise of the ’In Cinemas & On Demand’ films - as an example the highly rated ’Two Days, One Night’ which you can now catch at your local art cinema or online at Curzon Home Cinema, Sky Store, BT TV, Google Play etc. - strange that there is no iTunes for this one.

 

For me it started with ’Veronica Mars the Movie’ which was made available on limited cinema release or via iTunes back in February this year. In fact for independent film makers or more initimate films, it makes perfect sense to be able to view those as on-demand releases. I typically attend the cinema once a week, and love to see visually spectacular films on the big screen - IMAX if it’s worth it. For ’small’ personal dramas, I get exactly the same atmosphere from my very capable home movie system - there is no significant benefit to seeing those kinds of films in the cinema, and several drawbacks in fact. You also have a large number of mobility-challenged individuals for whom it is quite difficult to attend cinemas, equally importantly that most small towns don’t tend to have an independent film / art cinema and those kinds of releases would not be generally accessible to those populations except via on-demand. Nicolas Cage’s latest film ’Joe’ is another example of an ’In Cinemas & On Demand’ film.

 

I must admit I am slightly adverse to queueing for anything these days, also there has been an increasing trend in these last few years for the typical big release movie playing time to be extended to the range of between 2 and 3 hours. In my youth the

... Video-on-Demand is really coming of age
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

20 Aug 2014 12:41 PM
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As a marketing man, I will always be in favour of the pull rather than push mechanic - doing clever, captivating subliminal campaigns which gently sway people into action, rather than forcefully cajoling people into action via an ongoing barrage of prompts and ’offers’. I’m not saying I’m entirely opposed to outbound marketing of the email sort, it’s just that you can so easily cross the line from an informative service into harassment.

 

Most companies, particularly new / young ones need to target prospective customers in a somewhat unsolicited fashion. The idea is that you do your research carefully, and then target only a very specific audience, for whom your product or service would be of some significant benefit. This morning I unsubscribed from two retailer mailing lists as I felt I was being spammed by them - getting a message every day - ’3 days left of sale’, ’2 days left of sale’, ’Only one day left of sale’, ’Sale extended ...!’.

 

What irks me most in those kinds of mailings is when content is not personalised; there are so many fashion retail sites I am signed up to that send me mostly previews of ladieswear - when I’m quite obviously subscribed as Mr, and have only ever purchased menswear from them. Worse than these though are emails which advertise something generic - without pictures or reference - or when the reference is wrong. I have lost count of the times I have clicked on an interesting picture in a Zalando mailer, only to find no evidence of said garment on the current site.

 

There are obviously lots of different types of mailing, but I like to break them down into 2 specific types - a news service, and a featured mailing. The former is when you sign up to in effect a news feed - such as I do for the Times, and The Media Briefing - these are daily mailings with the most recent news stories. A featured mailing is really a ’push’ mailing, where the sender is typically putting out an offer or specific call to action. With the latter, you need to be very careful of tone and content, and particularly frequency. We find that a monthly featured mailing is perfectly acceptable, in some cases a fortnightly or even weekly one could be suitable, whereas something every day of the week is harassment.

 

My favourite type of

... Newsletter Netiquette - Best Practice Email Targeting
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

06 Aug 2014 3:23 PM
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The headline for this month’s Which? Magazine is ’The Great British Rip-Off : How we’re being wrung dry when buying tech goods and digital downloads’. The Daily Mail follows this up with ’The great gadget price rip-off: How Britons are still paying hundreds of pounds more for the same products as American customers’ and ’Flat pack it in: Ikea accused of ’ripping off’ British customers by charging them up to THREE TIMES as much’

 

Over the years most British consumers have grown used to having to pay more for consumer goods than both their surrounding European neighbours and their American cousins. The universal pricing model seemed to be largely based on something that retailed in the US for $100 was on sale in Europe for €100 and in the UK for £100 - which is patently unfair based on the strong pound and exhange rates over many years.

 

Consumer electronic prices have always been a rip off in the UK, as if you went to the United States, you could pretty much buy everything 20-30% cheaper. As an extreme example, a Samsung UE65H8000 LED curved screen TV retails for £2,544 equivalent in the US (including taxes) while the UK price is £755 more at £3,299 - a massive 30% difference. For the main IKEA example - a set of Falster table, bench and chairs retails for £213 equivalent in the US, £215 in Sweden and yet £315 in the UK - again a difference of near enough 30%.

 

These companies argue differences in local distribution facilities / logistics / taxes, culture etc. but it’s quite evidently profiteering. There are lots of companies that make an effort to have fair, universal prices around the world - companies like Zara and H&M, even Netflix charges UK customers £6.99 vs $8.99 for US customers - so it can be done. How can Microsoft for instance justify charging UK customers £154 more for Microsoft Office Professional - a downloadable software, which retails in the US for £236 and yet £390 in the UK???

 

I myself am very much an International shopper - I buy things in regularly from Europe, US, Hong Kong and Japan. I am often astounded that it is cheaper for me to buy something from overseas, including fast delivery, for significantly less than that same product is available in the UK. Kenzo

... Why is nothing being done about the Great British Rip-Off?
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

30 Jul 2014 10:15 AM
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Affino is looking to grow its Projects Team to handle an expanding workload. We seek a dedicated, self-motivated individual who works well as part of a team, and can also operate independently. The Affino Team / A-Team is a closely knit collaborative unit even though we are a distributed company and all members work largely from home. The team dynamic is vital to the success of the company, so the successful candidate must possess the right skill-set, as well as get on really well with all their colleagues. We communicate regularly, using tools like Skype, and good written and verbal communication skills are essential. Affino works at the cutting-edge of Internet Technology, delivering global, class-leading and multiple-award-wining social commerce / business platform / vertical industry hub websites.

 

Here follow the pertinent details:

 

Key Experience & Responsibilities:

  • The ideal candidate will possess a proven track record working with ColdFusion
  • Be proficient in ColdFusion 8 (and above) including the use of CFC’s
  • Must have a good understanding of HTML, CSS and JavaScript including libraries
  • Have experience in MSQL 2005 (and above) and Java
  • Have an understanding of mobile apps such as iOS or Android
  • Will be working on new and existing client projects

 

Education & Skills requirements:

  • Provide relevant certificates of education / qualifications
  • Must have excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to work well as part of a team and be motivated to work independently
  • Desire to learn new things
  • Be open and friendly
  • Ability to think outside the box when delivering solutions

 

Location:

  • Based from home with occasional travel into London for meetings and social gatherings

 

Salary:

  • £25,000 – 45,000 depending on experience

 

Interested parties please send CV with relevant references to sam.kennel@affino.com

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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

23 Jul 2014 12:09 PM
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Readers of this blog will know that I’m a big fan of music and movies. I subscribe to all manner of mailing lists and regularly read up on latest releases on a variety of online movie and music resources. On Facebook I am fan to countless musicians and bands, and am very aware when new releases are out in the marketplace. I initially wrote about this issue 10 years ago, and I’m sad to report that global media availability is still highly idiosyncratic.

 

Big artists like Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé know that if they don’t make their music available globally when it is released, they will become victims of piracy and will loose significant earnings potential. I still though come across even promo videos on YouTube which have for some reason not been enabled for my location - the UK! The UK still being one of the major entertainment marketplaces in the world - particularly from the perspective of promotional potential.

 

I get notified that Artist A has a new release out today, I go to iTunes, and it’s ’Not available for your Region’. I then go to the Artist or record label website, and am heartened to see that yes they sell digital downloads on-site. But when I try to add to basket / checkout, it says that the website caters only for the local market where that website is based - USA, Australia etc. I’m still surprised this happens at all in today’s global economy. Fans like me like to get their hands on the latest media content as soon as it is made available. If they cannot acquire the MP3 or Video etc. by legitimate means, they will often resort to alternative means of acquisition.

 

In the past, record labels used to stagger releases between Regions - we still have new UK releases appearing on a Mondays, while new US releases appear on the following day - Tuesday. The most famous recent global media release was Beyoncé’s new album which was simultaneously released to all markets / territories overnight. In fact, pretty much all major artists know to release simultaneously or fall victim to piracy. Even Radiohead, who pioneered independent releasing, don’t restrict the availability of their music by region. I find it very peculiar when I come a across a fairly minor artist with little or no presence in the UK, and little content on either Amazon or iTunes,

... Media Owners are still out of tune with the reality of Global Reach
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

22 Jul 2014 9:46 AM
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As an avid Amazon Prime member and a somewhat dedicated bookworm, I was exceedingly glad to read the announcement of Kindle Unlimited - a new service to provide unfettered access to 600,000+ Kindle books for a monthly $9.99 fee. Book series - Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, as well as personal favourite ’Life of Pi’ were used to punctuate the announcement to show that there were some big titles in the mix. I predicted that Amazon would launch its own Spotify for books some day soon, and I was really rather hoping that this would be it.

 

Unfortunately, the big 5 publishers still feel threatened by Amazon (possibly rightly so, but more of that later) and have largely refused to play ball. They would rather put their support behind one of the competitors to Kindle Unlimited - say ’Oyster’, ’Scribd’ or ’Zola’. All three currently have a slightly better selection of what I would call premium books, than Kindle Unlimited does. Turns out that most of Kindle Unlimited is currently made up of books out of copyright and various minor works, although there are of course some interesting titles in the mix.

 

However, and this is rather critical, none of the services mentioned here is really a practical usable resource for me, as not one of them contains even one of the last 10 books I read. Even one of my favourites from 3 years ago - Erin Morgenstern’s ’The Night Circus’ is noticeably absent. Spotify has a vast library of music to satisfy pretty much all tastes, Netflix has a very broad library of video - mostly TV, and mostly 2-3 years old or older, while Spotify is bang up to date with what it provides. The 4 book services named here seems to be odds and sods really, I searched for 20 of my favourite authors, and Oyster came out as the best choice for me, but still not really worth the monthly fee for what I would want to access. I have an ever-growing written reading list, as well as several already-downloaded books on my kindle - near enough none of these are represented on these subscription libraries.

 

Publishers need to wake up and smell the coffee to some degree here, as they are not fully aware yet of how much their marketplace is still changing. 90% of books I buy these days are on Kindle, I still buy the occasional hardcopy coffee table / art book or

... Kindle Unlimited is far from a Spotify or even Netflix for Books
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

18 Jul 2014 2:31 AM
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Congratulations to Procurement Leaders on a very impressive back-to-back win of PPA Business Media Brand of the Year. Few companies have won this award even once, but twice in a row is quite the accomplishment.

 

There’s a reason Procurement Leaders keeps picking up awards, and how it can take the same award many years running. Alex, Quang and the team at Procurement Leaders never let up on innovating and improving the site. From the very first day Affino started collaborating with Procurement Leaders, it’s been a continuous process of growth and advancement. The Procurement Leaders website is already way ahead of the competition, and with new services being launched all the time, there is no sign of any slow-down.

 

If you have not yet taken the time to browse through this excellent website and experience the numerous quality services members can avail themselves of, we encourage you to do it now - to witness first-hand what all the fuss is about:

 

[View Procurement Leaders Site]

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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

15 Jul 2014 4:56 PM
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I’ve been attending trade and industry shows and exhibitions since I was a nipper. My earliest recollections of these were as a kid visiting the annual motorshows in Iceland, then as a graduate working for a market research company at the NEC in Birmingham, then working for an advertising agency which designed and built stands and provided all complementary marketing services / materials, and finally as a business owner commissioning my own show stand and attending as an exhibitor.

 

Show websites arrived in the early 90’s, and truly most have not evolved much since then. I always felt that a show / exhibition website should give some of the flavour of the real event - a little hustle and bustle but essentially a feeling of activity and vibrancy. What you usually get though is little more than an exhibitors directory with a company logo, some very basic text and a couple of attachments. Mostly the site plans / maps are not interactive, and the whole online experience ends up as very one dimensional, static, and dare I say boorish!

 

Events are at their core, social happenings with social interactions, yet most events websites completely forsake any kind of interactivity. There have been attempts to achieve some sort of virtual or augmented reality in the past - with a kind of vectorised 3D format where site visitors could in effect immerse themselves within an online facsimile / walk-through of the real show - none of these really worked though, and ended up being rather clunky and not providing a good user experience.

 

I propose that the most obvious area for improvement is in the interactive department, but other small but significant changes can also be made to improve the overall online events experience. After all, online Webinars have largely taken over from their physical real-world Seminar counterparts - there is already great technology / software for attending and then participating in a final Q&A session at an online Webinar.

 

These following 10 recommendations are what I would propose to improve the vibrancy, impact and long-term reach of online events - considering both the exhibitor and visitor experience:

 

Long-term Engagement

 

Most events are treated as one-offs, with little real continuity from one to the next - typically a show website is trashed and re-done from scratch from

... Most Events websites need considerable livening up
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

09 Jul 2014 1:24 PM
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Both Affino and Jonathan Collins & Associates (JCA) have a long standing and successful working history with publishing companies and agencies. Affino from a solutions / technical architecture standpoint, while JCA has considerable industry insider knowledge as its key personnel have worked with and for many of the largest publishers at the highest level, and for the greater part of their careers.

 

The intention of the Partnership is to pool resources, knowledge and experience with a view to providing publishers with the very best consultancy and solutions for monetising the digital side of their business and achieving enduring success online.

 

To assuage any fears for existing customers, this is to be a working partnership where both companies remain entirely independent. Affino’s existing publishing clients can avail themselves of JCA’s expertise and insights. For customers active in other sectors, there will be no discernible changes at all.

 

Affino and JCA are dedicated to creating the very best online experiences for customers and service providers alike. Both partners share an ethos of close and collaborative relationships working towards common goals. We firmly believe this partnership will be invaluable for publishing companies wanting to transform their businesses to succeed in this digital age.

 

You can contact Jonathan Collins of JCA on +44 (0)20 3393 3240 or by sending an email to jonathan.collins@affino.com

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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

04 Jul 2014 5:39 PM
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After a hat-trick of PPA awards in 2013, Procurement Leaders are back on the awards trail for 2014 - picking up their first major award of the year - ’Best Business to Business Website’ at the annual Association of Online Publishers (AOP) Digital Publishing Awards.

 

As you can see in the above screencapture, and referenced on the [AOP Awards page] Judges’ comments are:

 

"A clear winner. Impressive commercial performance which is clearly a result of the product being spot on for its audience."

 

Procurement Leaders is continuing to blaze a trail of innovation, with new membership services launching imminently.

 

We heartily congratulate Alex, Quang and the team at Procurement Leaders - well deserved for all their ongoing hard work.

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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

30 Jun 2014 1:12 PM
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From previous blog posts you will know that I’m a huge music fan and sometime armchair festival attendee. The two big annual music festivals are of course Coachella (covered by YouTube) and Glastonbury (covered by BBC). These are very different events in many ways and Glastonbury has far more scale and complexity than Coachella. That said, this year’s Coachella coverage by YouTube was a high water mark as you can read in my [previous post].

 

I love the way that YouTube had the 3 Stages option selector with excellent ’On Now’ / ’Up Next’ menus - really easy and quick to operate - and a doddle to flit from one live feed to another. As indicated in the title, flitting from one stage to the next on the BBC site was a little more arduous and I think the BBC can learn quite a bit from YouTube. On YouTube the live feeds were looped around and interspersed with interviews and Coachella general interest pieces - when waiting for bands to setup, or if there was a delay in the proceedings - there was always some content being broadcast. On the BBC site conversely when the lightning strike hit on Friday - there were just notices on all the feeds saying that there was an interruption to the usual programme because of inclement weather conditions. Broadcasters usually live in mortal fear of ’dead-air’ - those moments then the broadcasts are unintentionally interrupted because of technical reasons - or when a presenter runs out of things to say - or literally just nothing happens for a period of time. On the BBC we had lots of dead-air on the live feeds - something I feel could be handled a lot better.

 

It was interesting to see that the BBC music websites are still largely adaptive in design - with dedicated versions for mobile platforms as per below screen. Some parts of the BBC have moved to responsive - like the iPlayer for instance, but in the main the design format in operation is still adaptive.

 

As for the actual content of this year’s festival, I must say I rather enjoyed it - and technically, the streaming was excellent in quality, not sure it was necessarily a vintage year though. I loved the inclusion of Metallica whose set I mostly watched, but did not majorly resonate with me. My favourite bit of the Metallica set was when they covered the great Thin Lizzy standard ’Whiskey

... BBC Glastonbury 2014 online coverage is rich in detail but somewhat labyrinthine
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

25 Jun 2014 5:05 PM
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During my visit to Internet World last Wednesday, I noted that a number of companies had their own angle on ’Customer Experience Management’. Recent empirical evidence shows that customers no longer make linear journeys through websites or the Internet as a whole. I myself am a tangential interlaced-browsing aficionado who thinks nothing of popping open another browser window and exploring frequently obtuse or out of the ordinary avenues.

 

My thoughts veer towards motorcar travel - with GPS assistance of course, and a variety of roadside signage, and how a journey by road is impacted by various major junctions (landing pages) and complex road networks (sitemap). Most people use some form of route planning, with numerous different options and pathways available through the same areas.

 

With the onset of responsive sites, sticky navigation or heads-up dashboards are very much in favour - much like the modern motorcar dashboards - hovering continuously within eye-line - and providing the journeyman with all necessary tools within easy reach. In terms of user journeys through a website, there are multiple points of entry, as well as multiple points of navigation and exit. The earliest websites which consisted of static fixed hierarchy content are very much a thing of the past. Modern websites use personalisation, multi-display, topic-tagging and user perspectives to present individual customers with very different content on the same URL screen - or even the same content on different URLs!

 

There are very few linear journeys taken these days, so you cannot really expect a customer to necessarily follow a pre-set sequence. Instead, you need to use sales and marketing automation (Customer Ladder/ Conversion Events in Affino) to monitor and prompt customers and notify admin / support staff when a user journeys to or stalls at a particular junction of the site. At the same time you need various ’sticky’ tools, as well as navigation to always stay visible on the screen no matter where a customer journeys to. These include shopping basket, help chat and user’s clipboard / wishlist. Like I said previously, most new sites have sticky navigation which allows customers to access any point of the site at any time. Right on the page / screen though you also need to have obvious Calls to Action, help buttons and prompts

... Customer Experience Management - Providing a Better Customer Journey
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

19 Jun 2014 9:07 AM
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IMRG and Affino have been working together since the turn of the year to produce an Ecommerce benchmarking system that will allow for a fully-automated data collection and analysis process.

The new service will be embedded on a client’s website, using a smart code and revolutionary sampling algorithms driven through the Affino Social Commerce platform.

Retailers will be able to compare performance with their sector peers - including metrics such as conversion rates, average order values and checkout abandonment – in order to improve their business.

Users of the service will be able to access the daily index at any time, a process that will become the barometer for the Ecommerce industry and measuring sector performance.

Graeme Howe, Managing Director of IMRG, said: "This new dynamic benchmarking service will be revolutionary for our members, and we’re really excited to see them get so closely involved. Beta testing has been going really well."

The smart sampling provides accurate trends without affecting the performance of a client’s website.

The official launch date for the new service will be announced in due course.

 

[view official posting on IMRG.org]

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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

19 Jun 2014 12:43 AM
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A previous company of ours exhibited a number of times at Internet World, the last time in 2009 at Earls Court. At that time, the show was probably at or near its largest, in terms of surface area covered and exhibitors attending, but we had noticed that visitor numbers seemed to have peaked already.

 

My attendance today at the Excel venue, was the first time I had visited the show in many a year. The first thing that struck me was the obvious reduction in size, and the overall lack of big stands - it seemed like there were only half a dozen or so sizeable bespoke stands. The overwhelming majority of exhibitors were using the very basic default cubicles, and by and large deployed very little imagination to differentiate their stand from other offerings. Most of the staff already looked disinterested and bored when I was circling / circulating at circa 14:00.

 

 

I was on the lookout for inspiration and engagement, funnily the latter sentiment was very much the unofficial theme of the show, with many vendors pitching their version of engagement. Exhibition-wise though, the stands were very ordinary, as was the accompanying literature, uniforms, take-aways etc. Many stands had way too much panel text, and not enough clarity of purpose, yet even those who were singular in purpose mostly failed to communicate their USPs. There were a few vendors concentrating on the omni-channel holistic angle, but there were also a plethora of single-solution vendors - postcode lookups, lead generation, email targeting, product 3d imaging, payment gateways, mapping, smart search etc. I also noticed an increased presence of hardware vendors which I had not been aware of previously - there even seemed to be a stand solely selling mobile phone accessories. I’m all in favour of charities, but found it rather strange that the White Hat Rally Fun Drive had such a large and dominant position within the show - punctuated by a pink Barnardo’s Porsche.

 

I felt a little sorry for the Technical Director of key sponsor Anixter, who was having to present to an audience of 3, in one of the peripheral theatres. There was a real mix of popularity in the different theatres, mostly empty, but a couple of them drew real crowds - particularly ’The Marketplace’ with its short, sharp and fun ’Pitch & Hit’ digital entrepreneur

... Internet World 2014 ExCel Show Review
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Stefan
Posted by Stefan

11 Jun 2014 1:42 PM
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You should have already read that publishers’ traditional revenue streams of advertising and subscription are not really translating into online success - there’s too much free stuff online, so subscriptions and connected advertising revenues are turning out to be relatively low yield. Some publishers are pinning their hopes on Native Advertising - i.e. Advertorials by another name - but most savvy consumers have already learnt to spot and avoid clicking on those also. In my previous blog post I pointed to smart brand advocacy - Endorsement and Product Placement as being the most likely future for advertising. So what is left to publishers - what does the future of publishing hold?

 

As I see it, pushed content has limited scope for delivering revenues on its own, or in tandem with any kind of advertising - even in conjunction with smart endorsements and product placements. Publishers need to be thinking more about their subscribers as members, and start providing connected member services - to service the entire vertical space for that membership. A key component to any modern business is ’Engagement’ - i.e. how businesses connect with and make themselves relevant to their customers on an ongoing basis - this will ongoingly mean delivering interactive member services.

 

You pretty much need to think on an almost cradle-to-grave progression when targeting say a professional sector / vertical. Starting with your likely members’ education needs, then career / recruitment, category intelligence and training, seminars and events, marketplace, networking and collaboration. The intended audience must feel that they are joining a professional members club which will forward their lifestyle experiences / career opportunities and thus significantly improve their quality of life. People go to well-connected schools and join highly-networked member clubs to ensure better jobs and brighter, more successful futures.

 

It’s easy to find professional analogies and examples, one of the very best examples is triple PPA award-winner Procurement Leaders, which dominates the Chief Procurement Officers vertical. Procurement Leaders’ unique combination of interactive membership services puts them in an almost unassailable position. At its heart, Procurement Leaders is a publishing business - delivering news alerts,

... Vertical Lifestyle Membership Portals are where publishing should be at in 2014
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Posted by Stefan

05 Jun 2014 2:03 PM
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The last vestiges of more traditional advertising - pre-roll video ads, native advertising and TV sponsorship idents etc. are all coming under threat of extinction. Anything which is deemed intrusive or interruptive will no longer be tolerated by target audiences. Brand owners instead need to rely on more subtle ways of brand advocacy like product placement and celebrity / personality endorsements.

 

A classic example of the new paradigm is TV Show ’Made in Chelsea’ which now has a product placement warning at the start of every segment. ’Made in Chelsea’ has garnered quite a reputation for a super cool music policy - where record labels and artists now queue up to feature their songs in the program - this is further backed up by Spotify playlists and other forms of content / media promotion. I myself have been introduced to several new artists and songs courtesy of said program, including debut single ’A&E’ from fairly recent chart-toppers ’Clean Bandit’.

 

Throughout the program - various activities, bars, restaurants, shops, brands / products and destinations are endorsed by being included within the narrative flow of the show. The ’Chelsea Locale’ ranges from West to East London, the various home counties, and even the Côte d’Azur and Venice. Sometimes the inclusions come across as clunky and forced, but more often than not they just become a seamless part of the accepted tapestry of that lifestyle.

 

There is an obvious precedent here in the classic James Bond film format - which is the master of both product placement and musical endorsement - courtesy of the much hyped theme songs - including recent Oscar winner Adele’s ’Skyfall’.

 

 

Some of the James Bond films have come into criticism for too overt product placements - Casino Royal for instance was swamped with Sony product references - yet it can all work harmoniously with some due diligence and subtlety applied. Brand names don’t always need to be mentioned - sometimes they just need to be seen, which is why distinctive packaging and design will play an increasingly more important role.

 

Beats headphones are a classic example of clever packaging and celebrity endorsement. The design is for sure appealing, but without the early endorsement from a variety

... The age of intrusive advertising is being overtaken by smart brand advocacy
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