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,
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
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:
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:
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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