Archive for Internet

Orkut improves user interface: a quick take

Google’s take over of Orkut has started to show in more ways than one.

To begin with, we started to see contextual advertising on the Orkut community pages.

Now the Google engineers are working hard to improvise the user experience. Now we can reply to scraps right from within our scrapbook.

Earlier, we had to click on someones user ID, then click on view scrapbook and then actually write and post the scrap! Pretty archaic and long winded! But now things are simpler and quicker! Kudos…
orkut-user-interface-reply.jpg

Today is Diwali, the festival of lights. This is what welcomed me on Orkut today.

orkut_india_holiday.jpg

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Brand Apple: Is love really blind?

I love Apple. I love Steve Jobs. I love their advertising. I love their arrogance. I love their products. Infact the love stretches beyond just products. It extends into inspiration, unconditional love… ummm a religion? Saatchi & Saatchi refers to this phenomenon as Lovemarks.

Strangely, while the above is somehow far more intangible in the buying decision making process, the far more tangible aspects like ‘consumer reviews’ fail to soften the purchase motivations.

Recently, while surfing Apple’s online catalog, I read some fairly negative consumer feedback about the Apple Mighty Mouse.

Suddenly, I took notice, but I didn’t defer my purchase. Primarily because of the following reasons:

  • The fact that Apple had the arrogance, courage, confidence and the transparency to showcase the negative comments worked for me, and somehow fit the current brand image in my mind
  • the Lovemark,
  • And lastly the amazing product that Mighty Mouse is in the first place.

Whats leaves me gasping for answers is whether all the consumer mass that is enamoured by a brand ready to ignore the user feedback and go on to pay a premium for products (read brands)? If it does, then whole a lot of things work – Super Bowl (1984 Think Different Ad) as media (remember, White Colour, Fruit-led brand names, and some great advertising.

Apple Store Reviews by Customers

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Google takes over YouTube or YouTube takes over Google?

Since Google gobbled over YouTube, I have been noticing an increase in organic search results pointing to YouTube.

While some may argue my over-observation, my argument is fairly empirical and common-sensible:

Google bought over YouTube so it could become a leader in internet video sharing. While this is OK, Google maintain its foothold in the contextual advertising space. With user generated content seeing phenomenal growth it makes sense.

And yeah yeah, YouTube can now ask daddy Google to give them some space on the Google Servers or atleast pay off the mammoth bandwidth bills!

However, YouTube needs to attract even more users to see Google’s money pay-off!

Simple, enhance the Google crawlers to crawl YouTube, and deliver organic search results!

Anyone else observing the same?

Watch the founders princely ‘keynote address’

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Friendly brands on the internet? Here’s how!

Today I noticed this friendly greeting from wordpress as soon as I logged on.

Howdy Mohak

This single word greeting “howdy”, said so much about what wordpress was, what it stood for, and the overall brand personality.

I started to think on how this is relevant. While this is a greeting and that too somewhat basic, the relevance is hightened in the context of errors and server malfunctions!

See, errors on the internet sometimes totally outrage you. Errors could range from a 404-Page not found error to a scripting error.

How about error and other messages to communicate to build a personality, a connect with the audience?

It is really very simple. Multiple web services, new age applications are doing so. The error messages, talkback messages are not only human, they are sometimes kinda cheekish and witty. They go beyond the message and get on with communicating with the user on a one on one basis. Perhaps, part of a larger user-experience strategy.

In the last couple of months I have been noticing some very “friendly error messages”. Messages which could perhaps reduce the outrage (if not bring a smile). Obviously, the leaders and the more lateral of the websites are doing so.

Such little efforts surprise the user and build on a personality almost immediately. Time will tell whether they help to gain brand preference, leadership or competitive advantage.

Some of the best friendly messages I have encountered (not limited to errors) :

  1. Orkut (server unreachable, unable to scrap): “Bad, bad server. No donut for you
    We’re sorry, but the orkut.com server has acted out in an unexpected way.
    Hopefully it will return to its usual helpful self if you give it another chance.
    We apologize for the inconvenience and our server’s lack of consideration for others.”
  2. WordPress (welcome page on the top bar): “howdy user” (with user being replaced with the logged in user’s name)
  3. WordPress (when a blog is unreachable): Confessions Of A Server
    OH MY! Life is so unfair! What did I do wrong to be born a server in this day and age? I could have been a nice simple bicycle that people happily rode around on all day. But no, I’m stuck inside this metal case serving web pages instead. I never even see the light of day and all I can hear is the rush of the air-conditioning!
    Well, no more! I’m relaxing here with a cup of tea and a biscuit until someone shows me some love and attention.It never takes them long to fix me when I kick up a fuss so check back in a few minutes and I’ll be chugging along merrily again.!Signed,
    The WordPress.com web server
    (WordPress.com – where even the machines have life!)
  4. Gmail (when you have no spam): “Hooray, no spam here!”
  5. Gmail: Who needs to delete when you have over 2000 MB of storage?!
  6. Marketing profs (when they sent out multiple emails): “Ooops we goofed up”

With people spending so much time on their PCs and on the Internet, it is time we got friendly! Not to mention, the brand personality of the website can appeal in the long run, technology is replicable!

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Mixi – Japanese ‘Orkut’ goes IPO. Doubles market cap on debut!

This is the height of social networking becoming financially viable. Well I know not everything is for a “social cause”, but then a Japanese social networking portal, Mixi goes IPO and must have done something extraordinary to match up the hype that led to the doubling of the stock price on debut.

I await something of this scale in India. India specific include Yaari.com, Jhoom.in, MingleBox, Fropper.com… But I think Indians own Orkut… Whichever community I logon to on Orkut, it is either owned by an Indian, or Indians rule it otherwise.

But what should Indian social networking sites try and do. To my mind, it is simple, try and organise more ‘real life, offline events’ to connect with audience and give the sites some flesh and blood!

Business Week has an interesting story on the social networking fad, and the financial viability.

HELLO, GOODBYE. Yet as the sites multiply and investors take a closer look, questions abound concerning whether social networking makes for a wise investment. And skepticism is rising over the long-term financial health of these online destinations, with some analysts saying these are the early stages of a social-network bubble. “We have yet to see a viable long-term business model for social networks,” says Nate Elliott, an analyst at Jupiter Research. “We have yet to see anyone come close.”

Read the complete story here

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[jugaad] Newspaper advertising is measurable. Use the Internet!

Before proceeding, be aware that I had recommended this to one of my clients… They did it or not did it is a guess you might wanna take…

Well, a lot of people like me who are far too convinced about the Internet and how it will shape advertising, media, marketing, consumers etc. should use the Internet to measure the traditional media campaigns…

Move away from TRPs, GRPs, and get common sense rating points…
Here is how:

  1. Set up a microsite for the thematic communication that you are going to run in saya newspaper…
  2. Use a powerful analytics application and site traffic monitor (Google Analytics) and plug it into your microsite…
  3. Now, ensure your traditional media ads link back to the Internet with a unique URL for each media vehicle you may use. Say for example, you may publish an ad in Times of India Delhi and Hindustan Times Delhi.
  4. All you need to do is, key in the unique web addresses for each publication. So, you may have
    Visit us at http://www.yourproduct.com/ht/ for more details” for Hindustan Times
    and
    Visit us at http://www.yourproduct.com/toi/ for more details” for Times of India
  5. Now sit back, and let the traffic details throw up surprises
  6. Not only can you guage the efficacy of each media, you can also check on other details like adformat, colour, page position, what time people accessed the website, where did they access it from etc

In India such quick-easy-dirty fix solutions are called jugaad

Feedback always welcome…

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