Daily Marauder


THIS WEEK: APRIL FOOLS & THE INTERNET by Marauder

THIS WEEK: APRIL FOOLS & THE INTERNET

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Happy April Fool’s Day from the internet. Every year, on April 1st, the internet bursts forth with April Fool’s pranks and this year brought even more of them, the lion share from Google. Here’s a list of some of the best from Techcrunch.

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In other news, Keith Olbermann was dismissed from yet another job at Current TV, times continue to be hard for the Blackberry in the sky, Google Maps ads real time traffic data to its maps (an obvious next step to Waze users), and Best Buy closes 50 stores in the US after missing revenue projections.

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Some more Cool Sh-t:

Where do the Good Ideas Go After Kickstarter?: Tiny Lightbulbs



THIS WEEK: HUNGER GAMES & THE MEMORY OF TRAYVON by Marauder

THIS WEEK: HUNGER GAMES & THE MEMORY OF TRAYVON

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Katniss Everdeen and her Hunger Games blazed through theaters this weekend bringing in $155 MM in the box office, the third highest box office opening weekend in history, behind sequels including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 at $169.1MM and just shy of The Dark Knight at $151.6 MM. Of all the five films in the top 5 for largest opening weekend, it should come as no surprise that each film is based on a book. A film does best when it has an established audience already interested in the story. A book series accomplishes the initial stages of marketing for a film.  I hate to use the buzz marketing word transmedia, but the novel-to-film strategy is the original in transmedia and still one of the most successful use cases.

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I was a bit closer to this particular film, being that I worked previously at the ad agency which placed its media. The incredible thing about the Lionsgate team is their nimbleness in the digital space. While others are belaboring whether or not to try one initiative or the other, Lionsgate seemingly tries it all. As Frans Johansson pointed out in the book, The Medici Effect, the sign of success is a direct correlation to how many times you have tried and failed. In other words, it takes a lot of attempted failures to arrive at the top. In my experience with Lionsgate, this is what I admire about them. They are small and volatile at times, but they attempt to do it all and find their footing somewhere along the way. So to that entire team, I say congrats. Keep moving at the speed of light.

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(AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Greg Gilbert)

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In other more serious news, crowds have turned out across the US calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed the unarmed Trayvon Martin (President Obama weighs in), Instagram is finally coming to the Android platform, Twitter turns 6 and begins to drop promoted tweets in your mobile feed (which as a user, I despise), Carrie Bradshaw gets a new face, and Angry Birds’ latest game Space has racked up 10MM downloads since its Thursday release. One last thing…after SXSW and writing about the top trends from the week, I did an in-depth review of the social discovery trend as well. This is one to watch.

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Some more Cool Sh-t:

Man. Meet Bird. Take Flight.



SXSW 2012: 5 TRENDS by Marauder

SXSW 2012: 5 Trends

But first, a reflection. Many have chastised SXSW as a liquor-fueled Vegas for tech people. In respect of the truth, I would say that this is true in many respects. There is alcohol. People drink it. That said, the beauty of SXSW is in the aggregation of a true set of innovators, from start-ups, VCs, investors, programmers, and digital marketers. Many have written about the serendipity which makes SXSW great. I fully agree with this. The important marking point of what you get from SXSW is in what you expect from it. If you expect to saddle up to a prescribed list of panels and meetings, you’re at the wrong conference friend. If you can let go, and allow the world to provide for some meetings with some astounding people by coincidence, you’re spot-on in the right place.


From running into Ian Schafer from Deep Focus & Josh Riedel from Instagram at the Foursquare party to meeting employee #1 from Mint & connecting with Zach Greenberger from Fullbright on what makes a good user design experience, my best conversations were usually the unplanned ones. I learned more in the past 7 days than I have in the past year. Topics included everything from launching a movie, how Twitter changes the writing style of a TV writer, how certain apps don’t work at SXSW and why that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t ever, and how Foursquare investigative work can help you figure out who hooked up last night.

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RECAP:

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The Rain

Austin is usually very sunny and hot, but this year it rained…a lot. Brands capitalized quickly offering branded panchos, like this one from Fandango, and umbrellas.

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Instaprint

Printing pictures from your Instagram feed, using a hashtag. This particular one was so engaging; they used a velvet rope around it.

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Creative Promotions

I’ve noted the large brands in Trend #5 but the online sites got in the game too. Skype featured a town crier who would scream out your tweets.

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Cool Technology

This is the Makerbot. It is a 3D printer which prints out a physical object from a model on the computer to the left. GE featured a DIY tent where SXSW-goers could learn about new tech like this.

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ZE TRENDS

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#1: Social Pairing

–Apps in the Space: Highlight, Glancee, Kismet, Sonar & Banjo

–Objective: Connect people together either solely digitally or in the real world to facilitate real connections and ease the discomfort in connecting.

-Why is this a Trend?: Highlight played SXSW app darling going into the conference but didn’t hit a resounding high note while there. While an app like Foursquare is more effective at SXSW, Highlight is less. The app became ineffective on the ground at SXSW because the size of the conference caused massive numbers of suggestions. In essence, when suggesting connecting to everyone, you end up connecting to no one because the sheer size of referrals is to large. Think about the stress you feel when you see 52 emails sitting unread in your email box. The same insight applies here. All this aside, simply the fact that something does well at SXSW does not mean it is instead fire or on the flip side, instant fodder. Consider that most SXSW-ers are not the target market of Pinterest for example. The success of social pairing has been proven, for the most part, in apps whose objective is pairing potential daters. Getting the interface right is the central sticking point in who wins here.

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#2: Sharing

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Sites in the Space: Neighborgoods, Airbnb, Spinlister

Objective: Allow strangers to share items and connect them together in a community of sharing.

–Why is this a Trend?: Airbnb connected many SXSW-ers with space to stay while in Austin but more importantly, the graph below begins to explain the rise of sharing. For one, we all have enough stuff to last a lifetime. Being more sustainable and limiting the additional items in the world not only helps each other but keeps those items out of a landfill making the Earth just a smidge happier.

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#3: Future of Music Consumption

Sites in the Space: Spotify, Pandora, MOG, Rdio, & Turntable

Objective: Allow strangers to share items and connect them together in a community of sharing.

–Why is this a Trend?: In 1895, Nikola Tesla transmitted a radio signal 50 miles from New York City to West Point, NY in the first test of radio transmission. The golden age of radio took shape from the 1920s through the 1950s. As traditional radio begins to the see the shadow of online radio, it’s clear that a transitional point is upon us. This past August, Pandora surpassed popular terrestrial radio stations in New York City for the first time. Online services including Pandora, Spotify, Turntable and Rdio have been rapidly growing thanks to the strength and speed of cloud computing and a renewed appetite for online music discovery.

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#4: Gaming for Good

Tech in the Space: Kickstarter, Google, Nike, Fitbit, NASA, Google, Gylo, Ayogo Games

Objective: Game dynamics motivate users around virtual points and play to our human desire to win. This new gaming model encourages us to improve our health, learn new things, or raise funds all in the sake of personal improvement.

Why is this a Trend?: Between Fitbit, the Jawbone Up, and Nike’s push behind the Fuelband, gaming for personal health is on a serious upswing. While in Austin, I was fascinated by some of the applications that pushed game dynamics or offers based around social good or education. For example, Cause.it rewards users with discounts for volunteer work offered at non-profits.

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#5: Technology is Listening & Watching

(Taken during the Superbowl, the screen above was presented when Shazaming the Pepsi commercial.)

Tech in the Space: Shazam, Kinect, Soundhound, Siri, IntoNow

Objective: Allow users to interact with technology by moving or by being heard.

Why is this a Trend?: Shazam commenced operations as an application which helped users identify songs but has evolved as an app to help brands connect their TV commercials to content on mobile phones. While this is a band-aid for the television being able to enable a connection to digital, it does allow for a fascinating TV to digital extension for brands. During SXSW, I also heard David Jones, EVP of Marketing at Shazam, mention that Shazam was working towards an always-on listening model. Just like Foursquare has an always-on model for location, Shazam would employ the same for listening. One question. Why type of folks want their technology to be always listening…or even always watching? Creepy alert.

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Brands, Brands, Brands

AMEX

AMEX promoted its Sync, Tweet, Save promotion linking twitter and discounts using an AMEX card with a Jay Z concert at Austin City Limits.

Effectiveness: 5 (scale 1 -5)

Nike

Nike promoted its new NikeFuel band, a sports band which tracks expended energy by selling the bands at times communicated via Twitter and setting up a sports park for Fuel Band wearers to stay active and win FuelBand points.

Effectiveness: 4 (scale 1 -5)

Chevy

Chevy provided vehicles which could be hailed as cabs to transport SXSW-goers throughout the conference.

Effectiveness: 4 (scale 1 -5)

Pepsi

Pepsi paid to take over the Austin Convention Center, usually owned by Coke, replacing all vending machines with Pepsi. They additionally ran a meet-up space called Pepsi Co Central with talks by special speakers.

Effectiveness: 3 (scale 1 -5)



THIS WEEK: THE DESCENT OF SXSW by Marauder

THIS WEEK: THE DESCENT OF SXSW

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This week, SXSW descends over Austin. If you’re unfamiliar, SXSW is a three-in-one conference encompassing interactive, film, and music. SXSW has launched a few innovative companies in its midst including Foursquare and the now-acquired Gowalla. In my opinion, it’s a nerd fest reunion with some music folks on the back end. Once a year, all of my digital nerd friends from all across the US get together to drink, party and possibly hit a panel or two. This week, I had a conversation with an ad agency executive in NYC about the merits of SXSW.

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While this particular person had never attended SXSW, he felt that the information which returned was never of value. The thought was that SXSW was simply a drunken booze fest without value.

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I thought about this argument and sat down to read an article in the New Yorker about Davos. Davos, as contrasted to SXSW, rounds up the top world leaders with the hope of igniting inspiration at the highest levels. I’m sure cocktails are shared but I’m guessing no one ends up at the Driskill Hotel at 2 in the morning passed out in a hotel lobby arm chair. That said, my argument in defense of SXSW centered on the simple physical aggregation of start-up folk, programmers, product people and marketing experts alike. Primarily, in the past four years that I have been attending SXSW, this has included an audience under the age of 35. We are young, we are innovators, and yes, we like to drink. Let’s face it, a cocktail or two lowers our fears and in many cases, allows creativity to flow. Steve Jobs referenced LSD as “one of the two or three most important things [he had] done in [his] life” as he considered the experience principally one which opened his eyes to creativity in ways he did not think possible.

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Now, I’m not condoning alcoholism or drug use. I’m simply pointing out that discounting SXSW because this particular audience parties or drinks heavily,is simply disregarding it based on unfair terms. It may be Spring Break for digital folks but don’t we all need a vacation from reality every once in a while? If you’ll be at SXSW, I’ll be speaking on a panel entitled, “Are We Killing Social with Social?”  Stop by and share some thoughts, cocktail or no cocktail.

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In other news, Pinterest is surging while Google + is puttering, Lady Gaga becomes the first person to hit 20MM followers on Twitter, newspaper revenue tanks shocking no one, smartphone owners now outnumber other mobile users in the US, Yelp shares surge on their first day of trading, and co-founder Naveen Selvadurai is leaving Foursquare.

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Some more Cool Sh-t:

The Lowline: Underground NYC Park Life



THIS WEEK: THE ARTIST MEETS ONE RIGHT LEG by Marauder

THIS WEEK: THE ARTIST MEETS ONE RIGHT LEG

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Monica Almeida/The New York Times

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Is it just me? I can’t be the only person alive who doesn’t understand the intrigue of The Artist…can I? It’s a silent film with a sickly sweet message crammed with actors pouring their emotions out like water from an unbridled hose. Simply stated, I’m not a fan. Clearly, the Academy does not agree; the Artist picked up 5 wins last night at the Oscars. At the very least, actor Jean Dujardin could have given us a throw-back to Roberto Benigni Oscar mayhem, but apparently Italians have a bit more joie de vivre. The Artist aside, the Oscars along with Billy Crystal, just felt a bit washed up last night. I enjoyed the 4 hours of Whitney Houston’s funeral the weekend before far more than the night honoring a bunch of films that, for the most part, were mediocre.

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Maybe the solution is to crowd source the nominees rather than giving the power to the Academy. Maybe then, there would be some actual surprises outside of Angelina Jolie’s right leg. Speaking of that, please Ms Jolie. PLEASE EAT. Till next year I suppose.

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In other news, the Samsung Galaxy Beam projects on walls, Facebook plans to release premium ads, The Oatmeal puts HBO on blast, and HTC releases the One X prompting Gizmodo drool.

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Some more Cool Sh-t:

Nerd Alert: Smartphone as Glasses



PHYSICAL MEDIA, MEET SOCIAL MEDIA. FIREWORKS. by Marauder
February 21, 2012, 11:17 AM
Filed under: Feature | Tags: , , ,

Last week, I returned from 10 days on the east coast to the note above on my car asking if I’d like to sell. As it happens, that’s exactly what I want to do. I hadn’t had the chance yet to post the car on the obligatory online sites or social networks. I simply had one note from a stranger asking if I wanted to sell. So, of course, I turned to social media next posting the note on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for my social networks to revel in the amazing timing and coincidence. As it turns out, another friend who saw the note on Facebook was also interested in buying my Jeep for his teenage son.

That afternoon, Kevin came by to test drive the car and offered to buy it immediately. Who knew selling a car would be this easy? The ease to purchase got me thinking about interplay between social media and physical media. In this case, the physical media left on my car, in the form of a note, posted to social media networks generated two potential buyers. Fascinating.

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At SXSW this March, I will be speaking on a panel entitled, “Are We Killing Social With Social?” taking a hard look at the ways in which social media can affect our physical relationships. Think back to a moment when a friend ignored your conversation to check in on Foursquare or post a picture on Instagram. While we fuel our social networks with content like programming a television network, we sometimes forget that physical interaction can solve the challenges before us.

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In my case of selling my car, the combination of physical and social led to the sale. Without the note on my car, I would have never posted on my social networks and my Facebook friend wouldn’t have taken interest in the Jeep. The note itself turned out to be an intrigue-driver demonstrating that the car was in good shape. A stranger had passed by and stopped to show interest, writing a note which served as a physical word-of-mouth review more powerful than a Facebook like.

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Of course, Kevin’s lack of punctuation and general affection for capitalization brought him to task on my Facebook page, but that aside, Kevin’s note helped sell my car. In short, physical media should not be sacrificed by the bedside of social media. Social media should serve as a springboard to empower our daily lives. I only fear that for some, the empowerment has turned to addiction and physical media and interaction are being ignored. Let’s face it — Without the note, would a link to the online posting of the car sale be as effective? Perhaps, but physical media sure helped in this case.



THIS WEEK: HOUSTON, WE HAVE LINSANITY by Marauder

THIS WEEK: HOUSTON, WE HAVE LINSANITY

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Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images / February 18, 2012

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Whitney Houston’s funeral Saturday drew more star power than the Grammys the weekend before including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keyes, R Kelley, Bobby Brown, and Aretha Franklin. Wait, those last two weren’t there. Bobby Brown left because of a “seating incident” and Aretha Franklin had leg issues even though she performed in concert that very night. [raised eyebrows] I thought Kevin Costner’s words concerning his work with the star on the Bodyguard were intriguing. Not only were they clearly heartfelt but they demonstrated the challenges of being a worldwide star. Incidentally, both the Grammys and Whitney Houston’s funeral both clocked in at 3.5 hrs.

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After being in NYC for 10 days, I attempted to mimic that city’s RIPocolypse love. From snow storms to Whitney’s death, everything on Foursquare is a RIPocolypse in New York City. I also wanted to see if a location of this nature would trend in Los Angeles like it trends in NYC. One problem. It never showed up in search results. I contacted one of the co-founders of Foursquare who told me the search results take a bit to update. 3 days later. Same issue. I know we’re on the opposite coast and a little bit farther south than where digital hearts show their affection, but damn it, we Angelinos are digital nerds too. Where is the love?!

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Apart from the digital snafu, I also noticed how polarizing Whitney Houston was when I asked friends to check-in to my newly dubbed WhitneyHoustonRIPocolypse. Some were eager to jump on and some simply flat out said no, not because they didn’t want to break out Foursquare, but because they didn’t “feel the love” for Ms. Houston. I do find it intriguing that certain folks feel so negative towards the pop singer because of her demons with drug abuse. I certainly don’t condone it. That said, entertainers, while making a ridiculous amount of cash, are owned by their audience, incapable of living away from prying eyes. Entertainers have the ability to inspire so many but they are human beings like all of us. Let’s be honest, we all have our demons. So, with that, I will continue to want to dance with somebody and yes, my love is your love.

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Along with the pop star’s farewell, the din of Linsanity, an homage to the popular NY Knicks player Jeremy Lin, has been reaching fever pitch. Unfortunately, ESPN made the mistake of running a racially fueled headline on Friday bringing Lin fans to punches. Thankfully for the fans, the Harvard alumnus finally joined the social network and took the dive into his first public Facebook page.

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In other news, a warmer winter has slowed sales of typical winter purchases, gossip surrounding the coming iPad 3 announcement on March 7th has erupted, and Twitter gets yet another boost from Apple, this time with the release of the Mac operating system Mountain Lion. Take that, Facebook overlords.

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Some more Cool Sh-t:

Beauty on the Go: Pop-Up Shopping Wall




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