Archives For interactive

Every morning, I get an email from a site called that pitches 3 or 4 new web-based startups: You get a name, a snapshot of their home page and roughly 50-100 word description – their elevator pitch. It’s like witnessing the finals of a startup competition every day, over coffee.

There are a few things that make this email absolutely fascinating.

1. Absolutely everybody has a startup now

Or at least it seems that way. This email (and I’m sure there are others) is relentless. 7 days a week they serve up a series of mini ads for new startups and the demand appears to be so high, their revenue model is based partly on offering an ‘expedited listing service’. The startup communities are growing to the point that they are fragmenting and splintering, dividing not just by location, but also by specialist roles within startups – witness Sean Ellis’ burgeoning Growth Hackers community.


startup, apps, media

The web is currently exploding with startups.


2. All these people are spending a shitload of time & money

When you consider that Jeremey Rappaport recently put the true cost of developing an app at somewhere in the vicinity of $120k and 10 weeks, the cumulative investment in developing all these new apps is staggering. Even if you halve that, offers direct evidence of over a million and half dollars and 3 years of work spent developing new apps, every goddamned week. Note too, that this figure is only for development. These costs, ballpark though they are, are net of marketing, support and legals. Ker-ching.

3. In the quest for differentiation, these apps are getting seriously niche.

The language of these startup pitches is incredibly variable and probably warrants a post on its own (hint: from a copywriting perspective, it aint always pretty) but what is common is how specialised they are becoming in terms of the services they offer and, therefore, the audiences they are targetting.

In recent weeks, the email has pitched apps for rugby fans, fitness enthusiasts, disorganised photographers, semi-competitive cyclists, parents of kids with allergies… you get the picture.

There are also a lot of copycats: men’s fashion, restaurant reviews, holiday planning, stock trading and group deals are about to get even more crowded, if that’s possible.


media, apps, fragmentation, audience

What happens when everyone’s living in their own app bubble.


A lot of the startups are offering infrastructure services for other startups (hosting, customer service, social media monitoring, budget tracking, market research) and now there’s a raft of ‘startup in a box’ startups, such as CrateJoy, that provides everything you need to launch your own ‘subscription service’ startup. Presumably these startups will also appear on in the near future.

Once you work out what it is that a particular startup is planning to do (as it’s name suggests, most of the services on don’t technically exist yet), some of the value propositions are, frankly, outrageous: “build an ecommerce site in 20 seconds” was a recent favourite.

Obviously, not all of these startups are going to survive. In fact, almost none of them will. But, statistically, that still leaves an extraordinary number of successful apps, all doing things very, very well for small, tightly-focussed audiences.

Where did all the people go?

The media ‘fragmentation’ we witnessed with the rise of the web will become complete ‘atomisation’ as we all start disappearing into niche apps, spending time with the functionality and communities that exist only within the interface of
these ‘appified’ services.

The implications for brands are significant. Just as the strategies we used to rely on in the multi-channel world became ineffective in the post-broadcast world, we’re going to have to reinvent the role of the brand again in the post-site world.

Coke is getting a lot of attention for their wholesale abandonment of ‘the corporate webpage’ and I think that this gives as an indication of how brands are going to have to re-cast their role in this world of apps and the atomised audience it will engender.


About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.


The 100 Oldest Domain Names

“first we build the stacks, then we understand the patterns, and then we can make some money” 

Matt Locke, director of on how the next era of the content industry will play out.

Just like influencers and outreach, the Electronic Press Kit is a PR-based concept that needs to be tweaked a little for social media.

Where traditional Press Kits were designed to be published, the guiding principle for socially-adept Press Kits is ‘designed to be shared’. So think about how to break the information down into shareable chunks, suitable for popular social media platforms that your influencers may be using. Microblogging services such as Weibo and Twitter require, as their names suggest, micro pieces of content: sometimes as short as 140 characters. Vine and Instagram’s video service are built on clips as short as 6 seconds duration.


b2b, events, digital, press kit

Whatever your content, format-wise it has to be ready to go.


So think bite-sized. A couple of lines. A 60-word summary.
A provocative question. An image, or a small photo gallery. And links, lots of links.

Speaking of links, a useful addition to the Kit is a custom shortened URL that can mask and re-direct much longer URLs. Services like and tinyURL not only condense and customise longer links, they also provide some fairly robust tracking and reporting, so you can see where your traffic is coming from and going to.

This is the third installment of the series: 10 ways to leverage digital for better B2B eventsWe recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer) – this advice is a summary of what we found to be true and useful.

< Previously in this series: #2 How to identify influencers & manage outreach         

> Up next in this series: #4: How to create shareable pre-event content  


About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.


Part 2 of the series B2B Marketing – four creative opportunities for 2012″

Last year we spent a fair bit of time coming to grips with marketing automation. Actually, to be fair, we spent most of the year cowering under the bed, absolutely terrified by the mind-bending scope, complexity and operational tedium of platforms like Unica. These technologies promise to automate, analyse and optimise pretty much every single thing a marketer could hope to do, but for someone operating from the creative end of the advertising agency spectrum, they can feel like the end of days.

Dig a little deeper and you realise that these technologies want the same things we do:

  • a consistent tone of voice
  • a building narrative for a brand story
  • logical pathways for multiple customer journeys
  • measureable interaction with the audience
  • and, most importantly, longevity of campaigns

Platform technologies, it turns out, demand platform thinking. They have the ‘Test, Learn & Optimise’ cycle built into their DNA. They simply refuse to co-operate with one-off, isolated tactics. They tell you when your ideas are working and they tell when they aren’t, which encourages creative & strategic experimentation by limiting risk: these platforms can be pre-programmed to kill failures early & cheaply.

The really big shift that these platforms demand, in terms of thinking, is in terms of timeframe and ROI. These are long-term tools for long-term marketing plays. They reward persistence, patience and consistency. And agencies are starting to respond, changing their mantra of 360 degree marketing (using all the available channels to ‘surround the audience’) to one of 365-day marketing: being always present, always on, always responsive.

This platform thinking has a downside: it’s a hungry beast. If you’re going to show up, every single day, you’d best be prepared to have something to say, every single day. Which is why platform thinking plays nicely with content marketing, and why marketers could probably benefit from thinking like publishers.

Next up: Why Direct Mail is the comeback kid>

Missed Part 1? See why Content is the kingmaker, not the king>

With just a few days to go until SXSW, I put my mobile podcasting rig through it’s paces and grabbed a few minutes each with some senior leadership people from Ogilvy Sydney.

I asked Digital Strategist Emily Kelley to help me find the highlights in the SXSW schedule; Ogilvy Sydney ECD Chris Ford whether we should change the entire operating structure of the traditional agency; Digital Innovator and SXSW co-pilot Damian Damjanovski why he’s more interested in Austin than Cannes; and newly-installed Executive Chairman of Ogilvy Australia Tom Moult why our clients should be interested in a technology conference in another timezone.

If the little player just above is not working for you (there are some known browser issues), try this one.

I’ll be podcasting daily from SXSW from March 11 to 15, with highlights, insights and interviews from the world’s largest festival of digital innovation – here’s where our coverage will be broadcasting from.

And for a more lo-fi look at the learnings from festival, check

We’re going deep into the heart of Texas this month – along with about 15,000 other digital professionals, enthusiasts, evangelists and just plain obsessives for the Interactive part of South By Southwest 2011.

I’ve been trying to get to this event for a few years now and am thrilled that Ogilvy have committed to sending a small team from the office here in Sydney. I’m even more thrilled that I’m on that team, along with a couple of real heavyweights from the digital marketing industry, Brian Merrifield and Damian Damjanovski.  The three of us will be covering as much of the event as we can, live and daily, to try and give our clients and colleagues a view of the very near future of digital marketing.

Follow the coverage from SXSW

We’ve had great support from Mike Boyd and his team at Appcast, who are whipping up a custom site that aggregates the various twitter, flickr, video, podcast and blog feeds that three of us will be generating from the festival. Feel free to hit the site and  sign up for daily updates via email.

The plan is to divide and conquer.

There’s an overwhelming amount of content on offer – some 700+ presentations, panels, keynotes and workshops are on the official schedule, with countless meetups, tweetups, parties, lounges and the inevitable guerilla/ambient marketing assaults on a fairly tech-heavy audience. Plus, there’s a giant trade show/exhibit hall where plenty of startups are betting the farm on becoming the next ‘breakout app’ of SXSW.

I actually met a young Aussie company at a pre-event mixer in Sydney last week that will be launching iTourU, their guided audio tour app for the iPhone at the trade show in Austin – great to see a local crew stepping up to what is arguably the world’s biggest stage for startup launches.

My focus will be to look for trends, ideas and innovation in the areas of content development, curation, apps, mobile, digital publishing, B2B marketing and beyond – and then to try and put that into context for my clients both in Sydney and throughout the Ogilvy network.

I guess you could call it an iPadcast rig?

Of course, I’ve used it as an excuse to get some gadgets in my kit bag: a completely mobile audio podcast rig.

This one is built from an iPad, an Optimus mic, manfrotto mini tripod, Twisted Wave app, and the Podbean podcast hosting service. I’ve managed to record, edit, upload and publish test files all from the iPad, even on 3G. Stay tuned for the first episode of the official Ogilvy #ausxsws podcast early next week.

I’m spending the next few days off the grid, breathing deeply and thinking about the utter madness that SXSW interactive promises. I’ve got some schedule planning to do, and a few interviews and meetups that I’m trying to orchestrate but I also have an old friend and colleague who is now an Austin – and Digital marketing – native to help me when i hit the ground, so I’m feeling confident.