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Preview: Musings of a mobile marketer

Musings of a mobile marketer

The diary and musings of a mobile marketer. I am Helen Keegan, a specialist in mobile marketing, advertising and media. I run the Swedish Beers parties in London and Barcelona. For the day job, I advise on mobile strategy for media owners and the odd bran

Updated: 2016-10-24T13:02:36.975+00:00


China, Big Data and Social Scoring - Big Brother Is, In Fact, Watching You


This isn't entirely new news from The Independent today, but it is an update about the Chinese government implementing a sort of comprehensive Klout score to each and every citizen and in turn, limiting access rights to certain services (including travelling by train or going abroad), goods and even jobs. It's the stuff of fiction of the kind of society Orwell was writing about."A high-level policy document released in September listed the sanctions that could be imposed on any person or company deemed to have fallen short. The overriding principle: “If trust is broken in one place, restrictions are imposed everywhere.” A whole range of privileges would be denied, while people and companies breaking social trust would also be subject to expanded daily supervision and random inspections.The ambition is to collect every scrap of information available online about China's companies and citizens in a single place – and then assign each of them a score based on their political, commercial, social and legal “credit.”"I first picked up on this story last December and wrote about it on my blog here in some depth. I hadn't exactly forgotten about it, but had brushed it to one side. But Big Data and the algorithms that are interrogating Big Data are not going away anytime soon. And in that respect, we're all affected in some way or other. We are being measured and tracked and assumptions are being made about us all the time based on our home address, where we work, where we travel to, the products we buy, how much money we have and who we are connected to.There are clearly some very useful aspects to scoring to make certain things in life and business easier - after all, we have extensive credit scoring in Europe and the US. But that's not a perfect science by any stretch of the imagination and is prone to fraud, abuse and misuse. This will likely increase. I don't think there is an easy answer to this. Some kind of scoring is inevitable when there is data available (and it's available in bucket loads). We are being scored all the time at some level - from targeted advertising to credit scores. Is it the price we have to pay to have a digital life?On a side note, but not entirely unrelated, I recently went to see Orwell's 1984 in London at The Playhouse Theatre. It's very powerful and pertinent to today's society and I highly recommend it. It's on a limited run and closes on Saturday 29 October. Catch it while you still can. Or you could read the book as a refresher. [...]

What does the skills gap look like in the mobile sector? Have your say!


As a long-serving veteran of the mobile marketing, advertising and media community, I have seen how the sector has evolved over time from its lowly beginnings with SMS. I spend time mentoring and meeting under-graduate and post-graduate students of business and marketing and I'm always surprised at their lack of awareness of the opportunities in the mobile sector. I'm also painfully aware of the lack of teaching on the topic at undergraduate and post-graduate level. And I'm wondering if that is having an impact on the innovation (or lack of) in the sector and in turn, if that means we're missing a trick somewhere. And that's why I've set up this survey.A couple of years ago, the Mobile Marketing Association published a report on the opportunity in the mobile sector in the US, and as part of that, highlighted the skills gap. I can remember thinking it looked pretty stark at the time - a huge opportunity on the one hand but not enough people with the right skills and attitude to deliver on the other.I know this is partly addressed by companies with their own in-house training, but I'm wondering what else can be done to both make the sector more attractive to both new graduates and more experienced people looking for a career change and also make sure that the people coming into our industry have the skills and tools they need.To that end, I have a first meeting with a senior academic from one of the fastest growing universities in the UK on Monday 10th October 2016 to discuss the skills and teaching gap in mobile marketing, mobile advertising and mobile media and to see how we can address that. And I'd like to hear your opinion on what they are.Whether you're a seasoned professional with a decade of experience under your belt, or you're new to the sector, I'm interested in your point of view. If you are hiring, what skills are you looking for? If you're new to the sector, what would have been helpful for you to learn before you started the job?Although this questionnaire is geared towards the UK market, I'm also interested in hearing opinions from our friends in other countries since it's a global industry.This questionnaire will remain open past the meeting date so don't worry about filling it in after 10th October! The conversation will be ongoing, as we work towards understanding and addressing the skills gap. If the form below doesn't work properly, please use this link instead. frameborder="0" height="500" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="" width="500">Loading... [...]

A little gender analysis of my social networks is revealing


I hosted a lovely dinner last week in London for ladies working in and around the mobile industry. I was thinking on the way home about hosting another one in a couple of months time and what I could do to attract more women to come along. And that got me thinking on how many women I'm connected to on social media. These thoughts were alongside those on the gender pay gap, women struggling to advance their careers (McKinsey), the advice that was circulating that women should remove their photos and resort to initials only on social media, why women don't seem to get pay rises and the depressing constant that women are not in senior roles in digital agencies or tech companies. So I did an analysis out of curiosity.TwitterMy Twitter audience was easiest to analyse since Twitter does it for you via their advertising system. Just go to and check the analytics. It gives you a breakdown of gender, income, location and interests. What it doesn't do is measure who you are following so we'll have to leave that for another day when I'm truly bored and don't mind working it out one by one.Out of just shy of 9000 Twitter followers, it's a 70/30 split male/female and my organic audience is 75/25 male/female. I'm guessing that's based on what tweets are shared and by whom. You might say that this kind of breakdown is to be expected due to my long history in the mobile sector. However, I actively follow a lot sewists and crafters to get some variety and balance in my find. This group of tweeters tend to be mostly female. And my perspective is that a lot of them follow me back. But without further analysis, it's hard to say.  LinkedInI've been active in women's networking groups for almost 15 years including Digital Eve, WiMD, WiTT, Everywoman as well as my own female-focussed events. I'm also pretty good at adding people I meet to my LinkedIn as I use it as an outsourced contacts database if you like. I'm also good at weeding out fake or dodgy profiles. I do check people out before I add them due to the risk of spam, scame and phishing. I have about 3,500 contacts on LinkedIn as I've been active there since they first launched. I downloaded all of them.Once I'd done some deduping, removal of people I knew to be deceased, accounts that were businesses rather than an individual and a handful of dodgy accounts, I worked out who was male and who was female based on either a) I knew them personally so could say male or female b) I checked their profile for evidence. On that basis, the gender split was 69/31 male/female. Hmm. I thought there would have been more women in there.FacebookFinally, I downloaded all my Facebook data and got my friends list. (Go to settings and Download your Data and follow the instructions). I use Facebook for both personal friends and family as well as business friends as a way of keeping in touch. The total number of friends, once deceased, duplicates and non-attributable accounts were excluded was just over 1200. I didn't count my followers as part of this exercise. And I followed the same process as I did for LinkedIn. The result - 60/40 male to female. A bit more balanced, but still skewed male. And that's with my having attended an all girls school for 9 years too!What to conclude?Without doing analysis on other peoples' accounts, it's hard to tell what is cause and what is effect and if this is a 'oh, it's just you, Helen' thing. I think there may be several contributing factors:1. The fact that I've been working in mobile technology for the last 16 years has clearly meant that I've met more men in my line of work than I have women. And that's despite efforts made with hosting and attending female-focussed events. Where else am I supposed to meet other women in my sector for friendship, support and to do business with?2. Women are more reticent about living life in public? I'm not sure about this, but anecdotally, it feels like there could be something in this. To counter this, do women in business need to step[...]

Deloitte's 2016 UK Mobile Consumer Report is out 'There's No Place Like Phone'


And it's a treasure trove of the latest consumer trends when it comes to mobile usage in the UK. Well worth a look if you're interested in the British consumer at all.From the executive summary (emphasis my own and some minor edits):"This year’s report marks the end of the smartphone growth era, and the start of its consolidation. A mere nine years after the launch of the first full touchscreen smartphone, adoption is nearing a plateau, at 81 per cent of UK adults, and 91 per cent of 18–44 year olds.The smartphone user base is approaching an unprecedented peak. No other personal device has had the same commercial and societal impact as the smartphone, and no other current device seems likely to. While the base may plateau, relentless innovation continues at device and network levels. Devices are likely to incorporate more functionality and get even faster. Biometric sensors, particularly fingerprint readers, are likely to see widespread adoption.Over a quarter of smartphones now have a fingerprint reader, of which three quarters are in use. The majority of phones are now connected to 4G, and cellular networks are getting ever faster, with headline speeds now at over 300 Mbit/s.1 As speeds rise, ever more latent, high bandwidth applications become viable. It is now as easy to read the news on a phone as it is to live stream a breaking news event from a smartphone.Businesses and consumers are still determining how best to use these devices. For the former, a common dilemma is over whether to use apps or websites. The typical UK user downloads 20 or fewer apps.Our research suggests that apps are not the right approach for every business.Consumers, who collectively look at their smartphones 0.4 trillion times per year, still need to identify how to use their devices in a balanced way, at a level that suits them, their other halves and colleagues. It is the sleek digital Swiss army knife that can be used at every stage of the day. How people will use their devices to communicate will be driven by consumers.The traditional voice call has become steadily less popular over the last four years, and usage of email, social networks and instant messaging has risen in tandem."Click here for the PDF. [...]

Page 52, Sentence No. 5


"This is a generalised feeling of envy and resentment about life: Just as in a passionate age enthusiasm is the unifying principle, so in a passionless and over-reflective age envy becomes the negatively unifying principle."(Robert Ferguson: Life lessons from Kierkegaard)Grab the nearest book, look up page 52 and share the 5th sentence. For no reason whatsoever.My friend, Heli, posted this on her Facebook page this morning. Just for fun, I grabbed the nearest book and did the same. This is what I got. 'Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better' Samuel Beckett. The book is 'It's not how good you are but how good you want to be'. (Apparently I bought it in May 2004 and it's still a best seller - the joys of a digital footprint...I'll leave thoughts on that for another time.)We all fail in life from time to time. It's inevitable and part of our human nature to get things wrong and to make mistakes. I know I've made many mistakes and failed at things more times than I care to remember. The trouble is, society is not very accepting of this. Schools don't really prepare us for failure. I know my schooling didn't. It was all about who could come top of the class. If you come top of the class, you haven't failed so you're not prepared for the inevitable failures that come later and may be ill-equipped to deal with them. If you are not top of the class, you feel a constant failure and under pressure to do better in exams which leads to stress and, likely, even less ability to perform or conform to what's expected of you. Most people don't perform well under extreme stress. In the corporate world, failure at work means getting fired or the intense feeling of shame - either scenario is debilitating and stressful. Failure and shame are often swept under the carpet or glossed over. Yet, if we don't make mistakes, it's almost impossible to learn or improve.I'm not sure what else to say except maybe to have less judgement and more compassion when people make mistakes for it happens to us all. We all need to take Samuel Becket's advice and fail, fail again and fail better.What's on page 52, sentence number 5 of the nearest book to you?:) [...]

Ladies in Mobile Dinner in London next week - 28 Sept 2016


With 10 years of ladies in mobile meet-ups in Barcelona and one in Leeds last year, I thought it was time to host a dinner in London. I know some terrific ladies in the industry and I know that they know some terrific ladies in the sector too. So let's gather, exchange notes, have something nice to eat and drink and meet friends old and new.I have not yet found a venue - it largely depends on how many of us there are. We may be a handful of people we could be 30, I don't know yet! However many we are, I will book a venue that can do us a fixed price menu for the evening at a reasonable price and afford us some privacy, but not necessarily a private room (unless we need it because of numbers). As a picky pescetarian myself, I will make sure that different dietary requirements can be catered for. Please let me know when you register of any specific needs. You can register on the form below or by clicking this link and registering on the Eventbrite page.I currently do not have a sponsor but am very happy to welcome a sponsor or two that would help subsidise the price to make the event open to those less able to afford it and/or to provide some additional wine on the night. If you'd like to sponsor this event, please get in touch with me, Helen Keegan, by email.Once I have an idea on numbers (currently about 20), I'll go ahead and book somewhere and advise on the price. You may be asked to pay in advance in order to secure our reservation. If that's the case, I will contact you with details of how to pay by by paypal, TransferWise or invoice/bank transfer.Men are welcome to attend the evening but must be accompanied by a female colleague.Know of a suitable place for us to go? Please let me know! I'm all ears.Looking forward to seeing you all.BestHelenThis is a Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Event.Photo credit Becky Gorman / aql. Taken at the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Ladies Lunch in Leeds, November 2015 frameborder="0" height="293" marginheight="5" marginwidth="5" scrolling="auto" src="//" width="100%">Powered by Eventbrite [...]

The Ten Book Challenge


So there's this meme going around on Facebook about ten books that have stayed with you over the years. This is the sort of thing we used to do in the early days of blogging, so I'm going full circle and bringing it back to my blog.So this is the challenge:List ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard. They don't have to be great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Tag some friends, and leave a comment with the link to your post, so I can see your choices...My list (in no particular order) :Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte 1984 - George OrwellUnder Milk Wood - Dylan ThomasE - Matt BeaumontGone with the Wind - Margaret MitchellNorthern Lights - Philip PullmanLittle Women - Louisa May AlcottH - The Story of Christiane F (It's harrowing. As is the movie.)Flowers in the Attic - V C AndrewsCharlie & The Chocolate Factory - Roald DahlThere's a bonus 11th as it's a recent one that I only read in the last few weeks so I don't know how long it will stay with me but I can recommend it - Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig I found the challenge really hard as although I read all the time, I don't read that many books. And I didn't read that much when I was younger as it was too passive an activity for me. I preferred acting or singing or sewing or just going out. I wasn't particlarly one for sitting still and reading. Even today, I don't read that much as I don't commute any more. Having said that, I've read at least 26 of the books on this list and has highlighted a couple of others that could have made this list - The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett. And there are others as I read friends' lists too.However, as with most people, there are some books that have stayed with me for one reason or another. And these are they, or at least the first 10 that sprung to mind.If you don't have a blog, feel free to add your ten books list in the comments below. [...]

Do you really need to upgrade your phone?


Ah, it's that time of year when the annual new iPhone announcement comes out. I'm not particularly bothered. I've never bought into the cult of Apple products or services. If you don't think it's a cult, then I recommend your read this brilliant article about a journalist trying to get their press pass to attend. I digress. Judging by my timeline and the flurry of press releases about iPhone 7 compatible headphones and cases that I got within moments of the press conference finishing. A few people I know are upgrading the software on their existing iPhone and some have stated their aim to buy the new handset despite the high price point. I also note that Brexit appears to have put the price up due to our currency devaluation of late.Do you really need to upgrade your phone? You might think that's an odd question from someone working in the industry and actively promoting mobile apps and services. But I am serious. I am conscious of the environmental impact the industry is having. And I was reminded of it this morning when following this discussion on TEN and this related article from Quartz from a couple of years ago, the reminder that the Coltan needed in all our phones, and not just iPhones, is sourced from troubled nations like Congo and Rwanda, that most of our phones are made in China where workers' rights are not necessarily a priority, putting it politely, and the retail workers selling the phones are on low wages too. And that's despite the £599+ price tag for the latest iPhone. And then there's the whole recycling issue - not just of the devices but of the cables, plugs, adapters and gizmos that we use alongside them. Is there anywhere near you where you can recycle cables and gadgets safely and easily?My lowly Nexus OneI meet with friends from the mobile industry regularly. They joke with me that I usually have a really old phone. They're not wrong. I still use my Nexus One which I got in 2010 (although I can only use it for phone calls, SMS, alarm and, at a push, maps. It can't take the pressure of much else). It still works so why not still use it until it stops working?I currently complement it with a Samsung S4 (3 years old) and a Google Nexus 7 tablet (also 3 years old). My laptop is also 2 or 3 years old but serves its purpose. Shouldn't our devices and gadgets be built to last? Until I actually need a new phone, I won't be upgrading any time soon.How about you? [...]

Is Google our Mobile OS Overlord?


I stumbled across this chart earlier today. It's from Statista using data from Gartner and it shows the global smartphone operating system market share.You will find more statistics at StatistaIf you're looking at the UK only, then the market share is still dominated by Android but not as steeply. This is my source for the UK data for the chart below and I'm guessing their source will be Gartner or similar. frameborder="0" height="371" scrolling="no" seamless="" src="" width="600">If you look at either chart, you can see that Google is currently winning the battle both at a Global level and in the UK. Whether they've won the war or not is a different matter in different countries. There is still much to play for and it's a dynamic market. Nokia was once as dominant as Google is now.Understanding your marketHowever, it is also important to note that when you're running mobile activity that you understand the nuances of the market(s) in which you're operating and the habits of your customers. And it's not just an Android vs everyone else story. There are so many shades of Android and such a wide variety of handset capabilities within Android that you also need to understand that at a deeper level. There's everything from the high-end devices from Samsung, Sony Experia and their ilk down to the sub £100 handsets to even cheaper devices in developing countries.It is still important to avoid memory and RAM hungry apps if you can as many of your customers simply won't be able to access them or if they do, it's at the expense of other apps - a one-in and one-out scenario.I'm also musing if the first chart will do a full circle and go back to the multiple OS environment we had 7 years ago. Probably not anytime soon, but it could happen. Look at Nokia. [...]

Email Marketing Fail from Monsoon this morning


I don't shop for fashion very often on the High Street these days. This is partly due to fashion overload from my 10 years spent in fashion retail and my love of a second-hand bargain from eBay, a charity shop or my Mum.There's also this small thing of not knowing what the right price is to pay for something and the potential of triggering 'buyer's remorse'. It's a horrid feeling to buy something and then find out you could have got it a lot cheaper the next day or in the next door shop. With the proliferation of promotional offers, never-ending sales and discount days, it's difficult to know what is the 'right' or 'fair' price to pay for something. My Mum also passed on her bargain hunting gene to me so I can't help but look for the yellow stickers in Marks & Spencer's food department!My love of a bargain sometimes leads me to the Monsoon Accessorize Sample Sale. Non-UK readers may not know the brands. They're ladies and children's fashion brands at mid-range price, generally good quality, fashionable but not overly fashion-forward. Historically, they were known for great-priced evening wear but they've moved on from that (although that's still a big part of what they sell in Holiday Season).I've been to their Sample Sale a couple of times and got a few things there and I'm on the mailing list. And the email dropped this morning to let me know that their next sale is on 21st and 22nd September. This is the image I received.Umm, Monsoon - where is the event? It would be nice to know! The image didn't even click through to a website. (FWIW, I'm guessing it's at The American Church in London again, but I could be wrong.)Lessons learned today:Even the big, experienced companies get it wrong from time to timeMake sure all the key data is included in your email flyer, including the location! [...]

From the archives - It's Throw Back Thursday time again


So this time ten years ago, I was just back from my second visit to The Electric Picnic in Ireland. By all accounts, I'd had a fab time despite rain and the ensuing mud. My review of the weekend is here.Location Based ServicesMeanwhile, 10 years ago, DoCoMo was trialling in-mall location based marketing. It's weird that this was 6 years AFTER we'd done this at ZagMe and even weirder is that it was 10 years ago and we're only just beginning to see location based services (or proximity as it's known now) come to fruition. Brand Republic wrote a half decent piece on the potential of mobile for marketing and advertising. Remember, this is pre iPhone App Store days and Nokia was the best selling manufacturer by a country mile.Branded TV ChannelsIn September 2006, Anheuser Busch announced they were setting up and investing US$30 million in their own TV channel for Budweiser drinkers called Bud.TV. 10 years ago, this was forward thinking and arguably, ahead of its time as it closed down in 2009 as they deemed it too expensive to sustain and the audience couldn't easily access it. Critics suggested that it closed down as the content wasn't relevant and limited in its appeal. More on the demise of Bud.TV and other branded content channels here.I would suggest that timing is key. Branded channels per se are not necessarily a bad idea. Look at the content that Red Bull comes up with that now hits mainstream TV. Bud.TV may just have been ahead of its time.DesignStephanie and Bryan Rieger are long-serving designers and mobilists. They are mavens of what works in mobile design and this presentation, 'Letting Go', from 5 years ago is well worth a look to remind you of what's what in mobile design. It's also a lesson in how to create beautiful presentations. But what about the children?Throughout my time in mobile, there have been people thinking about how to use mobile devices to monitor and track where their kids are. They are generally a terrible idea - if a teen wants to escape your digital clutches, they are more than capable of doing that with or without the fancy tracker you've bought. I'm not really sure why they keep resurfacing. However, this one that friend and mobile ally, Carlo Longino, wrote about back in 2004 takes the biscuit name-wise. Read all about '' over on Mobhappy. It's a great takedown and well worth a read.More from the archives soon! [...]

It's so funny how we don't talk anymore..


Retro house phones in a hotel in Los Angeles. May 2016.I have rarely been without a mobile phone for the last 16 years of my life. When I first got one, talking on the phone was the thing I did most of. Mainly because that's what the devices were designed to do and I didn't know any different having been brought up with a landline where it was the height of extravagance to listen to the charts on the phone using Dial-A-Disc (no really, we did do that and you can read about it here). I also used the alarm clock every day. I occasionally used the FM radio and did a fair bit of texting - but I was ahead of the curve on texting back in 2000 as I was working for a company whose only focus was on SMS marketing. If I hadn't been working for ZagMe back then, I'm not sure I would have been as quick to embrace SMS.Fast forward 16 years and I can count the number of phone calls I make each week on the fingers of one hand. And when I receive a phone call, it's such an infrequent occurrence, it can sometimes feel like an intrusion of my private space. With messaging of all kinds, be that email, Facebook Messenger or lowly SMS, it's asynchronous so I can reply as and when I choose to and it's fair to say, I'm overwhelmed with written communication much of the time - especially email. A phone call is in real time, hence the feeling of intrusion. And if I need to get hold of someone, calling them feels like I'm intruding into their day unnecessarily. Although, that could just be call reluctance.I'm not alone in this. A recent survey from GiffGaff (sample size 1,500 adults in the UK according to their PR team) showed that not only are we Brits spending 3 hours a day on our phones, but that less than a third of us use our phones mainly as a phone for making and receiving actual phone calls. The UK is a nation of texters with 36% of the 1500 respondents stating messaging (SMS / Messenger Apps) as the main use of their phone. Browsing is surprisingly low at 16% and Social media at 11%. I'm wondering if the last two were under-reported?Also of interest, depending on the device you own, your use of that device will vary. There were 13% of respondents who own a Nokia device and more than 50% of them said they used their phones for phone calls. Apple users (29%) were the least likely to use their phones to make calls and most likely to play games on their phone. I'm guessing many of the Nokia owners have simple phones that do calling better than anything else and that's why their owners bought them as they have no desire to push their finger around a glass screen aimlessly.It's something I've been thinking about for a while now. This song that my older readers may recognise comes to mind, Cliff Richard's 'It's so funny how we don't talk any more'. allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" frameborder="0" height="266" src="" width="320">So what happened? How come we fell out of love with talking? I used to spend hours on the phone talking to my friends after school. Is today's teenage experience with messaging and social media as rich? Do we need to be encouraged to talk more with an updated version of BT's 'It's good to talk' advertising with Maureen Lipman playing Beattie? allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" frameborder="0" height="266" src="" width="320">Of course, this survey was UK specific so usage trends are likely to be different in different countries, and especially in countries where literacy levels are not as high as they are in the UK. And communication in any form is a [...]

Linkage on a Tuesday


A few things I've been reading and thought were worth sharing...A good read here from a Greek tech and food entrepreneur telling his story of idea to execution to early success to failure to learning to pivot to greater success. How a fake food business won an award. A salutary tale of how to game social media via buying 'influencers' and what this means for your online marketing strategy. Why am I being paid less than my male colleagues? TLDR probably because you never asked for more money and didn't negotiate. I've heard this before that women don't tend to negotiate. Men negotiate from their first salary so get ahead early on. It doesn't occur to women to do the same. A lesson in negotiation here for men and women of all ages.This next one isn't news to me, but it may be news to you and is one of the reasons why I keep banging on about gender discrimination. Having women on your team makes for a better business:Companies with three or more corporate directors who are women (in at least four out of five years) outperformed those with no women on the board by 84% on return on sales, 60% on return on invested capital and 46% on return on equity.AlsoA 2009 study in Silicon Valley found that venture-backed companies run by women had annual revenues that were 12% higher, used an average of one third less committed capital and had lower failure rates than those led by men. There's more in this article about addressing the gender gap in angel investing.  This post from Terence Eden is great looking at user-centred design and creating personas when creating websites, apps and services. Entitled 'Debuffs, Enchantment, Equipment, and Players - an RPG Player's Guide to User Stories. I highly recommend.Thanks for reading. [...]

The Trouble With Big Cities


Although I live in London, I spend a lot of time with my Mum in the city where I grew up. I say city, but Worcester is actually very small when it comes to town and city sizes. And it's a long way from anywhere. It's quicker for me to fly to Barcelona than it is to visit my Mum. Worcester suffers on the GWR Hereford to London line as part of the route is single track through the Cotswolds. I read somewhere that the train journey takes longer now than it did in the days of steam trains. There are local buses, but you really need to understand the timetables as most services are not very frequent and don't run every day and don't have services after 5pm. How you are supposed to use those buses to get to or from work, I really don't know! And let's not talk about the local motorway traffic which seems to get more congested year on year.As a city, Worcester seems to be suffering from lack of job and career prospects, especially for young people, despite being home to a large university. It's a nice enough place to live with beautiful countryside nearby, a river running through it, a sizeable Marks & Spencer in the High Street and some lovely places to eat and drink. But that's the trouble, the new job opportunities in the city are all hinged on retail and catering jobs. Gone are the days of the big employers like Kays Catalogue, Dents Gloves, Cinderella Shoes, Worcester Royal Porcelain and Metalbox. Maybe, it was like this back in the 1980s when I left school. The majority of my generation left Worcester at the earliest opportunity. A few stayed, but they could be counted on the fingers of one hand. A lot of us left for London. I certainly did and I wasn't alone.I'd love to see an innovation space in Worcester - in the city centre - showcasing young retail and creative talent and giving them the opportunity to try out their ideas in the city and providing a business hub. I've always thought the old Corn Exchange would make a great space for that. It has been lying empty for so long with a string of failed restaurants behind it, yet it's in a central  location in an interesting and historical building. Or failing that, the Angel restaurant could be reverted back to a market hall but focused on new retailers and have a mix of small office and retail units. I'm heartened to find out that there is an organisation who have similar desires called The Kiln. I'm interested to see what they come up with and wish them every success.I mentioned all this in passing in a conversation I had with friend and retail expert, Eva Pascoe, and she was telling me that the network effect of new technology was boosting cities and was keeping smaller towns and cities down. It's not something I'd really heard before but it made sense. This article, 'The problem with London Guilt' explains how that works in more detail and why London has become so dominant over other British cities over the years.I'm not sure where that leaves places like Worcester but it makes for interesting reading to understand the dynamics we're living in right now and why the focus is on 'smart cities' rather than 'smart towns' or 'smart villages'.I welcome your thoughts and comments on the topic. [...]

Revisiting proximity marketing


I cut my teeth in mobile marketing in location-based services, or proximity marketing as it's now known, way back in 2000. I was Head of Customer Experience for a new outfit called ZagMe (now long gone) where we sent SMS text messages to customers at Lakeside and Bluewater shopping malls while they were out shopping. We were not only pioneers of mobile advertising, we were also pioneers of location based mobile advertising, and we were way ahead of our time.Fast forward 16 years and proximity marketing is making the headlines again. Retailers are experimenting with geo-fencing, location based targeted advertising online and beacon-enabled apps. It has been a couple of years since I last took a good look at the sector. You can see the video here of the interview I did with David Murphy from Mobile Marketing Magazine talking about the history of location based services.If you have an interest in this technology and its practical application, you my be interested at this upcoming Mediatel event, sponsored by Proxama, that I'm participating in on the morning of Monday 12th September in London. I'm looking forward to hearing about up to date case studies and I'm hoping brands and agencies have learned the lessons from the past. We'll see... You can find out more about the event and how to attend here.And if you'd like a history lesson in how mobile proximity marketing began, here are a couple of videos from BBC News and Channel 5 explaining how ZagMe worked.  width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> [...]

#TBT From the Archives - On this day in 2006


On this day in 2006, I wrote about Coca Cola embracing mobile marketing in Japan. That's 10 years ago! The gist of the service was that they could pay for Coca Cola in vending machines using an app that was NFC enabled or by using a personal QR code. They would then earn loyalty points for each purchase. To think we're only just seeing mobile payments here in the UK...You can read the original post here.Off hours mobile usage is covered in this short post from 10 years ago prompted by the Puzzler Media project Tom Hume was working on at the time. That is, usage of mobile devices at home in the wee hours of the morning rather than the received wisdom at the time of mobile being used mainly 'on the go'.And the final one I'll share from the archives today is this one about Carling and a campaign they were running 10 years ago. There's a text in call to action and you get a wap link back (we are talking the days of Nokia N95 handsets and their ilk). Then there's a bar finder and a mobile game you can download and play. As a campaign mechanic, it's probably not that different from a lot of the campaigns we see today. The main difference is the call to action. Then it was SMS to WAP and now it's more likely to be a banner ad or social media triggering the download. [...]

To Adblock or not to Adblock, that is the Question(naire)


Well, it's one of the questions that crosses my mind as 2016 seems to be the year of the Adblock Wars. I'm busy collating a bunch of resources and thinking around the topic and I will write about it here in due course.However, having worked in mobile advertising and media for 16 years, I am more than a little interested in what's happening in the sector. I've been heard to lament the lack of innovation in mobile advertising many times and I am still frustrated that, as an industry, we are so focussed on the banner ad but maybe the times are a-changing with the debate around adblockers, click fraud, 'sponsored' or 'branded' content.So indulge me if you will, and please complete my short questionnaire about your usage (or non-usage) of ad-blockers and mobile advertising. I'm not judging you! I just want to get a picture of what's going on in the sector which will confirm or deny some of my hunches.I will compile the results and try and make some sense out of them. I have no idea what insight may result, but let's see what happens. If nothing else, the answers will help me formulate my next series of events. Please also share it with colleagues, friends and family. It shouldn't take you more than a few minutes to complete as it's mostly tick boxes.If you can't easily access the form below to complete, you can follow this link instead. And if you'd like to share the survey with friends and colleagues, please feel free to copy/paste this link frameborder="0" height="500" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="" width="600">Loading... [...]

Picking up the Pace Again


I haven't been paying enough attention to my personal blog of late (this last few days excepted) so I'm giving myself a challenge to pick up the pace again and write something 5 times a week (i.e. week days). I may not publish each time I write, but if I write that frequently, then there's half a chance that I'll write some articles I think are worth publishing and therefore, will increase my output over the coming weeks and months. It's all too easy to publish on Facebook and Twitter and then you can lose the things you've been talking about. If I can collate everything there, then it can act as my searchable archive.If you've found this post, then you know my blog is here at . There's a box in the side bar where you can add your email address and that means you'll get an email for each day that I publish a new article. On days I don't write anything, you won't receive anything. It's completely free. If you prefer to hang out on Facebook, you can follow me there at and I'm going to do my best to cross post each article there too.  And if Twitter is more your thing, I'm there too under the moniker @technokitten. You'll also find me on Google+ and LinkedIn and you can follow me there. If you would like to add me as a connection on LinkedIn, please personalise the request so that I can see how we know each other.I mostly write about mobile technology, but not exclusively. I'm also interested in digital apps and services in general (and how that impacts on our lives), the ethics and usage of Artificial Intelligence, the future of media (especially news), mobile marketing and advertising (well, I've been working in the sector for over 15 years), wearable devices and the Internet of Things (that's gadgets we wear and gadgets that talk to each other). I come to these topics as a pragmatist or analyst rather than an evangelist. I'm not a programmer so although I may lurch into technical speak from time to time, it shouldn't be beyond the understanding of a non-techie. I also share links to what I'm reading if I think it's worth wider thought or discussion or I'm searching for opinions.And yes, I also use my blog to promote the events and initiatives I produce and support.(I'm also relatively close to a milestone number of blog posts published over the years so that's another incentive for me to keep writing.)Thanks in advance for your support. [...]

Things that make you go hmmm about advertising & journalism


I'm cooking up both a longer blog post and a discussion event about ad blocking, future of advertising (which is also the future of journalism in some ways), business models to support both/either etc. I'm hoping to be able to hold the event in September. Watch this space.In the meantime, here's some food for thought on journalism, advertising and business models : Mother Jones', a US title, published a groundbreaking story on prisons that contributed to a change in government policy. It cost $350,000 and generated $5,000 in online ad revenue and is now looking at a donation business model.(The irony isn't lost on me that I read the article while using an ad-blocker.)(via rather good weekly newsletter) [...]

On the Relentless Pursuit of a Meaningful Life


Screenshot of page one of an image search 21 August 2016I don’t know if your Facebook feed is anything like mine, but mine is chock full of friends, contacts and brands sharing motivational quotes, affirmations, tips on meditation and mindfulness, yoga poses, and useful articles to hack your life, reach your goals, follow your dreams and be the best version of you that you can be. I know you know the kind of stuff I’m talking about. In theory, these are all things to help us live a happier and more fulfilled life, about finding our purpose and to improve.I’m not immune to this stuff either. I’ve shared a lot of this stuff on social media myself. I’ve done the Tony Robbins thing twice (albeit more than 10 years ago now) and found it very beneficial both times I went. The first time I went, I can remember coming away thinking I must have a big purpose in me, but ten years later and I’m still none the wiser as to what that is. I’ve also read my fair share of self-help books. Well, I’ve read a few of them cover to cover, others I’ve just dipped in and out of. Some remain firmly unread.Here is one such article I was reading on Saturday morning by Umair Haque, ‘Three Rules for a Meaningful Life’ which prompted this thinking. It’s not bad advice per se – it’s about finding meaning and the genius within for a happy life. And it’s written from the heart, I’m sure.But what if there is no meaning, or at least no particular meaning for you? What if you haven’t found that life’s purpose that gets you leaping out of bed in the morning? What if financial or familial responsibilities and circumstance dictate living your life in a different way than one of pursuing your dreams? What if you never had a dream in the first place? Not everyone is born knowing they want to be an accountant, doctor, mechanic or entrepreneur. I daresay there are few who actually know what they want to do when they grow up but I’m sure it’s not universal. I’ve always felt that people who have always known what they want and are able to pursue that are incredibly lucky. They don’t face years of indecision and worry about whether or not they’re making the right choices in life. That frees them up to, you know, pursue their dream.I shared this on Facebook on Saturday – you can read and comment on the thread here as it’s public. I couldn’t find the original article I was reading about it being ok to NOT have meaning in your life and to muddle through. I remember when I read it feeling more than a little relief. Not having an over-arching ‘purpose’ has made me feel like I’m missing out or not contributing enough or something and that it was something I should have but don’t and on reading this article, I realised that it’s ok to not have a purpose too or to have great meaning in your life.I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. How do you deal with this stuff? Do you have your purpose and meaning sorted out and live your life by it? Is it possible to feel fulfilled and engaged with life without a ‘purpose’? Does it matter?In lieu of the specific article, I have found some other articles of interest and others have shared theirs and I’ve listed the links below for further reading on the topic.Online articles (all free to read and in no particular order)Mark Manson, 7 Strange Questions That Help you Find your Life Purpose.The Meanings of Life by Professor Roy F BaumeisterThe Jam Study Strikes Back. This is fascinating. The gist here is that too much choice of jam on the supermark[...]

Move over PokemonGo, You're PokemonGone with FreeBetHunt on the loose


The recent frenzy around the augmented reality PokemonGo mobile game can’t have escaped most of you. Whether it was you, your friends, your colleagues or your children who were hooked, there’s no doubt that PokemenGo had an immediate impact with some crazy scenes of mass PokemonGo players from across the globe. In case you missed the frenzy, my friend George did a little video about it to help explain the overnight sensation that was 20 years in the making. width="320" height="266" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>I must admit, I did succumb, briefly, to see what all the fuss was about. It was kinda fun to play in Central London and it was kinda fun to compare which Pokemon you had with friends. But outside of that, not so much fun when you’re outside a big city due to lack of Pokestops and lack of Pokemon to actually catch that weren’t Rattatas, Spearows or Pidgeys. It also slowed down my walking when I’m actively trying to increase both my step count and the effort I put into my steps. When PokemonGo first hit the market, you could see people playing locally where I live as it turned them into Pokemon zombies wandering aimlessly near Pokestops searching for rare virtual creatures. But that’s all but stopped now from what I can tell as the novelty has worn off. I deleted the app from my phone last week. The vibe was over.It seems, however, that I was wrong. Brands are now getting in on the act and coming up with their own PokemonGo inspired geo-targeted treasure hunts.The first is a game from betting company, 888Sport, imaginatively entitled 'Free Bet Hunt'. Instead of hunting Pokemon, you can hunt free bets around football stadiums.FreeBetHunt is not quite as pretty as Pikachu's virtual playground. However, that may not matter. I’m not exactly the target market for this as I neither bet nor have any interest in football despite my surname being the same as a famous footballer of the late 20th Century. So, is this a winning strategy to get football fans betting more? I don’t know. How interested are 21st Century football fans with virtual treasure hunts? I guess time will tell. I welcome your comments on that score. I do applaud 888Sport on their speed to market though and their willingness to experiment with new technologies.More info on how to play here (you need to be over 18 and have an 888Sport account and have deposited actual money in it in order to qualify). [...]

Friday Tidbits


I’ve been neglecting my blog in favour of Facebook and I think it’s time to get back to my blog and give it some tlc. I’m going to start with an easy post listing some things I’ve been reading and thinking about lately. So here goes...Jakob Nielsen talks sense about UX in the corporate world. The older readers among you will no doubt remember Mr Nielsen from the early days of the web and his seminal book Designing Web Usability – The Practice of Simplicity. Well, he’s still around and still dishing out sound advice such as in this podcast and interview about how to tackle usability in the corporate world.Male exec gets it completely wrong on diversity within the ad industry and has to resign his very senior and very well paid role within global ad agency. Read all about it here.Brexit – A story in maps. This article is fascinating whichever way you did or didn’t vote. It’s not nearly as clear cut as we might have thought and the picture is more complex than London, Northern Ireland and Scotland are in and the rest of the UK voted out. It depends on which way you cut and interpret the data for a much more nuanced view. I don’t envy Theresa May and the job she has on her hands right now.A great read on burnout here – a modern day and very real affliction. “Burnout is not simply a symptom of working too hard. It is also the body and mind crying out for an essential human need: a space free from the incessant demands and expectations of the world. In the consulting room, there are no targets to be hit, no achievements to be crossed off. The amelioration of burnout begins in finding your own pool of tranquility where you can cool off’.” [...]

Upcoming events I'm hosting in San Francisco, Mountain View, New York & LA


I'm very excited to be back in the USA for a trip next month. It's been a few years since I was last Stateside and I'm looking forward to seeing friends old and new. As part of the trip, I'm organising and hosting several events with Lloyd Davis from The Tuttle Club and James Tagg, co-founder of Truphone, inventor of the LCD touchscreen and author of 'Are the Androids Dreaming Yet'. The events are all free to attend and I hope you'll be able to join me.Please follow the links and RSVP for the events you'd like to come to. RSVP is required for each event.The first event is on Monday 2 May 2016  and is a Swedish Beers Party in San Francisco. We'll be at Keeper's Share which is the private bar at Rickhouse Bar at 246 Kearny. The first few drinks are on Truphone and FTI Consulting!Next there are three talks and discussions going to three different cities. The topic is 'When Will Our Smartphones be Smarter than Us? AI and the Future of Mobile.' James Tagg is our keynote speaker with further guests and speakers at each event.Our dates and locations are:Tuesday 3 May 2016 - Mountain View - we're having brunch at Xanh which is near the Caltrain station. We'll be there between 11.30 and 13.30. James will be joined by speakers from FTI Consulting. Brunch is courtesy of Truphone and FTI Consulting.Thursday 5 May 2016 - New York City - we're at LMHQ with breakfast at 09.30 to 11.30 with our friends from Truphone and Longneck and Thunderfoot.Monday 9 May 2016 - Los Angeles - we're downtown with our friends at IndieDesk from 18.30 to 21.30. James will be joined by Sam Liang from AI Sense. We'll be serving drinks and snacks.I'm on the lookout for additional speakers and sponsors, so if you're up for either of those, please get in touch by email. [...]

Well, what a blast Swedish Beers was in Barcelona!


A big thank you to everyone who came and chewed the mobile fat with us in February. Thank you to our sponsors, Gavin and his team at Voluum, Nextbit, aql, Vyke, Veoo, Inspiring Interns, Inspiring Search and Joshua PR. We couldn't have done it without their financial and moral support.Thank you also to our photographers, Erika Arias, Naty Jamiez and Inspiring Search. And a thank you to Alex and his team at Dostrece who did us proud. They even wrote about us on their blog (it's in Spanish). Here are the photos on Flickr and the same set on Facebook - there are a lot this year. So if you haven't seen them already, enjoy!  We'll be back in Barcelona in 2017, all being well. But in the meantime, we're heading to the USA this May.There's a Swedish Beers party happening in San Francisco on Mon 2 May, a talk and meet-up about Artificial Intelligence in Mountain View on Tuesday 3 May, another talk and panel discussion, 'When Will Our Smartphones be Smarter than Us?' in New York on Thursday 5 May and another session in Los Angeles about our Smartphones being smarter than us on Monday 9 May.Do come and join us at the events - they're all free to attend. And get in touch if you'd like to sponsor or partner with us. [...]

Did you know about e-sports?


I certainly didn't think much about it. I vaguely knew that there were competitions for some of the bigger computer games but it didn't really cross my mind to think about it much. Until the last few weeks, that is.I mentor a couple of Masters students from the University of Westminster every year. It's where I studied as a mature student and this is my small contribution towards giving back to the university. This year, one of the students I'm mentoring is a massive e-sports fan so we've been talking about it a lot. Coincidentally, the BBC has just shown a fantastic documentary about e-sports, The Supergamers, which you can catch on the iPlayer for the next 4 weeks. They also have a brilliant primer, in case you were wondering about it.Did you know that 10s of 1000s of people attend live games and millions watch from the comfort of their own screens? - yes, they're watching teams of people play a computer game.Did you know there were salaried professional players?Did you know that the prize funds can run into tens of millions of £?This is big business.There's something that feels instinctively wrong about (mostly) young people devoting their time and energy to what boils down to pressing buttons on a computer screen. Of course there are cognitive skills involved. Many of these games involve strategy decisions and being able to work in a team. Your reaction speed is critical (and this reduces as you age) and your career could be over by the time you're 22.And how can this be considered a sport? I mean there's no physical activity, is there? Arguably, your brain power and reaction speed will be enhanced if you're also physically fit. But it appears that many of the professional players are just like other teenagers and live on junk food, sleep in late and don't do much in the way of getting outside in the fresh air to exercise, preferring instead to slump in front of the TV or a computer screen.It got me thinking about why I value, say, playing rugby as being a 'better' activity than being the best at League of Legends? What makes it better (or not)? It's arguably healthier to be outside in the fresh air and the physical movement is a good thing about playing rugby. But there are risks of being physically damaged - broken noses and cauliflower ears are common features of rugby players. And in both activities, players need to spend hours and hours of their time devoted to playing, practicing and analysing their performance in order to improve for next time. Is it a better use of your time to hone your rugby, football or netball skills as against honing your computer gaming skills?It also got me wondering what the role of mobile devices might be in all of this. In terms of fan engagement during tournaments, I'm sure there's a lot of scope. The vibe and scale of these tournaments feels like a cross between a gladiator fight in a Roman Amphitheatre and a Premiership football match. The emotion of the fans is very real.If you dig a little deeper into e-sports, you'll see that it's growing at phenomenal speed and that it's now a multi-billion $ industry so it isn't going away anytime soon. I wonder how soon it will before some of the e-sports teams and tournaments will become household names as familiar as Manchester United or the Boston Red Sox?(File under 'stuff young people do but I don't really understand yet'. See also How to Snapchat like a teen.) [...]