Monday, 6 December 2010

To review or not to review that is the question

There are many ways to tell when an issue or topic has gone mainstream. You could look at press clippings or even Google it and see the number pages. If it’s very current you could even just see how many people are discussing it on Twitter. However I have created a new monitoring tool which I like to call “the one show test”. The One Show, long lost child of Nationwide and the Blue Peter for adults is now famed for the varying topics it covers. So when something is picked up by them you know it has reached a critical mass. So it was with the debate about the pros and cons of customer review sites.

The piece in question was regarding the rights and wrongs of the tourism review site Tripadvisor. Over 40m people a month log on the site to read what others have said about hotels and activities to do when on holiday. The coverage on the One Show stemmed from the class action that Tripadvisor is facing in the US from some US hoteliers who claim that negative reviews are defamatory. As the reviews can be anonymous, the hoteliers say there is no way of verifying that the reviews are genuine and from people who have really experienced their hotel or service. I was recently a judge for the recent EDP Tourism Awards in the online category and at the awards night last Friday I asked some of those present their views both on TripAdvisor and reviews in general. Most were positive but also voiced the ease of potential abuse.

As the web becomes more social focussed and less a big data warehouse,e so this move to reviews will continue. Ten years ago most of what was said about a business was probably put there by the business themselves, now, most has come from others. Research firm Forrester recently published a European survey that showed that 54% of respondents stated that what others say about a brand directly affects their shopping basket.

Argos took the brave step of allowing open reviews against all its product lines online a few years ago. This is a business that last year posted sales from its website of £1.4billion and that is set for another step change this year. Not all the reviews are positive but overall they view their openness as only a positive for the perception of Argos and helps enforce buying decisions on positive products and stock decisions on poor reviewed one.

Locally, Naked Wines, the Norfolk based online wine retailer, also uses reviews as a key part of its offerings. My last purchase from them was driven from an email offering a discount on wines in return for reviews, and reviews and customer ratings are an integral part of the Naked Wines online offering.

As I have said in previous columns this trend will only continue so the choice is to exploit it to your benefit or ignore and potentially miss out to others who don’t.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant – follow him on Twitter @timyoungman

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Gap and its logo 360 turnaround

This month saw one of the more embarrassing about turns in the last year and I am not talking about RooneyGate. No this comes from that well know purveyor of clothing Gap. Gap actually started in 1969 in San Francisco and since then has grown to its current position of owning 5 leading store brands including Banana Republic and Old Navy and now turns over $14bn a year.

Gap, as you may or may not know, is also quite famous for using its own name and logo splashed over its clothing. Of course many clothing brands do that but Gap has always been known to do it in a very American way and sometime in your life you have probably seen someone wearing a sweatshirt with GAP in large letters on the front.

Its name and indeed its logo, with Gap in white text sitting in a blue box, is one of the more recognisable logos in the world. So much so that I was surprised to see that it was considering changing it. I was even more amused during the following 7 days of extreme embarrassment for the Gap board.

On October 6th Gap announced it was changing its logo, removing the blue box and changing the font. Within hours the new logo was universally panned with some descriptions not right for this family newspaper. The kinder ones related it to something created in 5mins in Powerpoint or that it was more geared towards a new piece of accounting software, ouch!

Social media sites were flooded with comments, virtually all negative. Within 3 days Gap’s senior management announced that the new logo was being retracted and that they had decided to start a “crowdsurfing project” to come up with better ideas. Now I had never heard of that one either and presumed that they came up with it while in a more lenient coffee house considering the current debate in California to legalise marijuana.

Most commentators renamed its “crowdsufing project” to what it actually was, an embarrassing u-turn. However that’s not where it ended, on October 12th just 6 days after it started and 3 after the announcement of its first change of policy, the president of Gap North America announced that it was withdrawing its “crowdsurfing” strategy and returning to its original logo.

This spectacular 360 degree turn of policy quite rightly attracted large amounts of media attention. Interestingly many commentators concluded that this was all an extremely clever piece of press manipulation designed to create large brand awareness. They simply could not believe that a company as large as Gap could make such an almighty hash of such a big thing. I could almost buy that argument if they had just stopped at the “crowdsourcing” point and ended up shortlisting some of the thousands of received logo suggestions for a worldwide integrated campaign using a social media driven vote on a new logo. But they didn’t, they turned face again and went back to the old saying they had “learned a lot in this process”.

In my opinion this was a simple case of a very public mistake that they took too long to correct. Logos are an emotive subject and often overplayed. Take Tesco, its logo has been subtly tweaked over time, but it’s pretty much the same as it has been since I had hair and it hasn’t stopped it taking over the world. Changing your logo will not turn your business round. Understanding your customer needs and delivering products solutions to them will. I hope in Gap’s case the management has learnt its lesson.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant – follow him on Twitter @timyoungman

Friday, 1 October 2010

Tablet Wars - iPad vs the Playbook

The problem with brand new shiny toys is that after a short while they are not so new and not so shiny. This is pre-built into all of us when as children we realise that our new toys from birthday or Christmas within a couple of weeks are not so new and not so shiny due to excessive use. After that something else invariably catches the eye and becomes the next object of desire.

Some have argued that this is what keeps the world economy turning and they may be right but its especially true with technology. A couple of years ago you could sit in a coffee house playing with an iPhone and feel the envious stares at you. Today there are no stares as everyone is playing with their own smartphone from various makes and the iPhone seems, dare I say it, a bit old.

Luckily I have had the pleasure of feeling the stares again for the last few months as I have sat working on my iPad. I have even happily given people demonstrations of the shiny toy as I do truly love it. However, as with all new shiny toys, when one stands out other toy makers up their game to get a piece of the action.

First against the iPad were the Galaxy Tablet from Samsung and the amusingly named Streak from Dell, although its 5 inch screen puts it on the small side. Last week however a more serious contender was announced; the Playbook from Blackberry.

Blackberry is a major player in the smartphone market. In the US in July, according to figures from research firm Comscore, they lead the marketplace with a 39.3% market share followed by iPhone at 23.8% and Google Andriod phones at 17%. Blackberry has also traditionally been the business smartphone of choice and its this market, rather than the consumer market, they have targeted this new tablet computer at.

The new Playbook comes with a 7inch screen and front and rear cameras allowing video conferencing and has been geared for the high security network systems that businesses like. Unlike some of its competitors it has no 3G capabilities but does have wifi and Bluetooth. Although they have not announced a price it is expected to be high especially as they described it as “professional grade” which means “we are going to charge a lot for this”.

Some analysts are predicting that sales of the iPad will reach 12m by the end of this year. Hewlett Packard CEO Todd Bradley said last week in a speech announcing its own tablet effort, that they believe that the tablet market will be worth $40bn a year in a next few years. So its pretty obvious why manufacturers are looking at how they can get a slice of the pie. Blackberry is hoping that its business relationships will help them gain a big slice of that pie. Calling a proposed serious business machine the Playbook rather than the rumoured Blackpad or Blackbook I would argue however was one big mistake.

Still whatever happens, the coffee houses of the UK will soon be filled with people surfing the web and checking emails on screens large enough to actually read what they are looking at. It is even rumoured that Aldi are going to launch a branded version. You could argue these are just toys but if you are a website owner you should be quietly pleased that more people can access your site wherever and whenever they want. More importantly on a screen they can actually see what you are offering.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant

Friday, 3 September 2010

Social Media and the art of public speaking

It’s a long time since I have delivered a presentation to local businesses here in Norfolk but I recently was asked if I would present at its upcoming Digital Simple conference on September 16th ( The invite left me thinking long and hard on what would interest 150 people enough to listen to me for a half an hour.

The last time I gave some presentations with the chamber was over 8 years ago. Then I asked the audience how many people had booked a flight online or did their banking online. Only a few raised their hands. Today these seem daft questions as the internet is now such a common part of most people’s lives. In the last 8 years the internet itself has not changed that much. What has changed however is how many people use it, how often they use it and through what devices and what they are using it for.

It was only a few months ago that I wrote a column about privacy issues with Facebook. Yes I did gloat when I read Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google earlier last month talk in an interview about the dangers of releasing too much personal information on social media sites. However when there are 500m worldwide Facebook users and 26m in this country that is a difficult message to get across. There is a danger in sharing personal info but there is just as much being shared online about brands and businesses, as there is drunk photos that may come back to haunt. Eight years ago the internet was a tool to find information. It is still that but today just as much time is spent sharing experiences as finding info.

People are not just finding out where a restaurant is and what time it opens but sharing reviews of the food with their friends and complete strangers. If you are a business, the change in the way people use the internet is important. You need to understand that people are now online talking about you, not just finding info about you. You can either choose to ignore that or participate in the conversation.

It’s by no coincidence that the largest single driver of mobile internet access is social media as people want to share views and information from wherever they are. With the huge growth in internet enabled mobile phones it is now commonplace to see people sharing their thoughts right from where they are, from the restaurant to the shop floor. Customers now have the tools and technology to share views both positive and negative right at the point they have them and if they are negative this instance access means no time for cooling off or reflection.

However this change in internet behaviour driven by the growth in social media should be seen as a blessing not a curse, an opportunity not a threat. The different social media tools allow businesses to create real engagement with existing and potential customers. It probably will not immediately increase your bottom line and will take up time. That investment in time though will bring you a deeper relationship with some customers and introduce others to you and your area of expertise where you can then direct them to your website where the real selling should happen.

The way people use the web and how often they do has fundamentally changed over the last 8 years and there is no going back. So I decided to name my talk “the changing face of the internet and the new rules of engagement”. Not the catchiest of titles but if you are free on the 16th come and see me at the Open Bank Plain Norwich at 2:20pm. There may even be a quiz!

Tim Youngman is Head of Digital Marketing for Archant

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

ITV 2010 First Half Profits and Move to Online

August is usually a quiet time in Britain’s favourite pastime, TV land, before the adventures start all over again. No sooner as we realise that the nights are drawing in, so we will see the long run in to Christmas start with the return of the X Factor. This normally brings cheer for ITV bosses looking forward to better ad revenues but they have had better fortunes this year.

2009 was a bad year for ITV. Advertising revenues slumped massively and I suspect that Adam Crozier, previously of Football Association and Post Office fame, probably wondered why he took the job. Luckily for him however, by the end of 2009 ad buyers started to remember the reach of primetime television advertising, allowing 30 slots in the final of X Factor last year to be sold for upwards of £250,000 a go.

This year it’s a very different story and ITV have just announced pre-tax half year profits of £118m which you can compare with a loss of £4 in the same period last year. This is an impressive turnaround in any business especially one that is supposedly under massive competition, not just from the expansion of available television channels, but also from ad spend moving to other media especially the internet.

ITV has made some big changes in a small amount of time and are now concentrating on growing audience share, selling more of its shows to the international marketing and exploiting its programme content across multiple channels.

It is the last of those that has created the most media hype as its first move is a deal with Sky to put its high definition channels on Sky’s paid for platform. It looks as if ITV1 HD will continue to be available through Freeview but if you want the HD versions of ITV2, 3 or 4 you will need a Sky subscription. This is designed to help ITV become less reliant on your traditional TV ad revenue and moves it into the subscription TV market, albeit using a massive partner in the form of Sky.

During the first half of this year video views on the ITV Player, its equivalent of the BBC iPlayer, fell 14% but it did have 4% more people watching. This will also be a key area for them as unlike the BBC they can put ads all over web TV viewing. Crozier has put on record this is an area for growth and that they are “subscale given the size of the online video market”. He has backed this with a £75m investment over three years in online. So look out for more promotion of ITV Player and the probable introduction of pay per view micropayments.

So all very nice for ITV but what does this mean for the viewer? Well hopefully it should be good news. If ITV looking to boost its online presence and international presence can only do that by generating good content and by that I mean quality programming. I hope that ITV’s new management team will recognise that to grow it has to make more shows that people want to watch. A turnaround in fortune gives it a real chance to create the programming that it built a worldwide reputation for and be grow it profits at the same time.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Digital Tourists

We may have limped out of the World Cup, but like most of the £100k a week so called players, many of us will now be looking forward to our holidays. We are lucky in this part of the UK to be so close to some fantastic places to stay, visit and enjoy. Tourism is vital to the East Anglian economy, for example in Great Yarmouth the local council estimates the value to its economy to be £480m and it sustains 30% of the local workforce.

So while the sun lasts I thought it would be interesting to see how some local tourist attractions and businesses are using new digital marketing techniques to grow their own businesses.

A good example of this is Centre Parcs, which has its Elevedon Forest Village destination at Thetford, and now uses the internet as a fundamental tool to grow its visitor numbers. Centre Parcs uses a range of digital marketing techniques to attract both new and returning visitors. As well as Google PPC and an ongoing programme of search optimisation, Centre Parcs now use innovative digital display advertising to drive people to its website. Interestingly these ads are not just placed on the major portals but also on more targeted sites such as Mumsnet.

They also have an extensive email CRM program which starts from 16 weeks before your visit to welcome you and encourage you to book activities. This forms part of an ongoing communication both before the holiday, giving information about your stay, and after the holiday, with newsletters and offers encouraging you to come back again. According to Jo Button, Centre Parcs e-commerce marketing manager, 4 years ago 30% of all bookings were done via its website, this has now grown to around 70% showing the effectiveness of what they have been doing.

Another local holiday village company, Richardon’s, have also seen the benefit of increasing its online activity. They worked with Norwich based search marketing agency Further who re-designed its site and concentrated on improving its search rankings. This has seen 75% of all visitors now come from search engines and a strong growth in bookings.

An example of an attraction using digital marketing effectively comes in the form of the BeWILDerwood adventure park which links with tourism websites including Visit Norwich, Visit Norfolk and Visit East of England as well as national family and days out sites. Jo Artherton from BeWILDerwood said “We consider online activity a really important part of our marketing strategy and referrals from these sites alone account for a substantial 21% of the traffic coming to our website”.

It is clear that our local tourist industry is becoming more digitally focussed and indeed now more reliant on digital marketing techniques as tools to grow business and visitors. So much so that this years EDP Norfolk Tourism Awards will for the first time include a new category “Most effective use of online marketing”.

It is great to see an industry so important to the East Anglian economy embrace and indeed benefit from a well thought out and well implemented game plan. Shame our footballers could not have learnt some lessons from them.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant

Friday, 4 June 2010

Facebook Privacy

I have been writing columns in newspapers for over 10 years and in that time two things have not changed. Firstly my hair has not grown back and secondly people are still surprised when scandals appear. In the last month we have seen both Lord Triesman and Sarah Ferguson caught saying things they really shouldn’t, in Fergies case blaming it on a “lapse of judgement”. My lapses of judgement normally involve a hangover the next day, not asking for half a million pounds but there you go. Both cases got me thinking about privacy, how we view it, and in most cases don’t.

Ten years ago I was writing about how you should be careful about what you put in an email as they can easily be sent round not just the office, but in a few famous cases, the world. That now seems obvious and since then technology has moved on and so has our use of it. First came mobile phones and illicit text messages and then social media. Suddenly various elements of the media found it easy to get their hands on dubious pictures of celebrities as they have been dumb enough to put them on their profile pages. Now we have MP’s being warned about what they write in their Twitter accounts especially when written from the bath. I would hope that was not just a lecture about letting people know that but also the dangers of mixing electricity and water.

Social media now is not just a fad it is mainstream. Facebook has over half a billion registered users world wide. The largest played game in the world is not Call of Duty but the Facebook farm game which says a lot for the human race. In March in the UK Facebook generated over 30% of all the ad impressions delivered that’s 20.9 billion ad impressions.

So that’s a lot of people sharing everything from what they are doing, to photos of themselves doing it, to even reviews of what they like. You don’t of course just share that with your friends but also people like me if you have not changed your privacy settings. Facebook recently launched Facebook connect. If a Facebook user clicks on a Facebook connect button on a site to say they like it, the brand owner then can access that person’s info. I was at a conference two weeks ago where I was shown how in two clicks to tell me from those who had clicked how I could find out how many single female cat owners liked my brand, where they lived and how to contact them. That is unless they change their privacy settings. As Facebooks privacy settings are currently longer than the US constitution you can see why people have not bothered but that is about to change.

Facebook is under pressure to simplify its settings as users want to have more privacy. A telling fact is that a group of 4 students in America tried to raise $10k to build a more privacy centric social media site and raised $200k in a week to do so. As a final point I asked some of the younger members of my team about how they view their online privacy and the response was “that’s just the way it is”. It looks like I will be writing the same column in another 10 years time.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant

world cup fever

You would think that despite the freezing May weather we could all look forward to a quiet summer punctuated by wet barbeques and Wimbledon disappointed. However you would be wrong.

No, a very busy summer is just round the corner, or June 11th to be precise and the clues are there already. Just like the first sight of a Cadburys Creme Egg means that Christmas is over, the first England flag, hat, clapper, baby grow, any piece of tat that can take branding, means that the World Cup is on its way.
So just when you thought you could sit back and watch your normal shows without volcano updates or party political broadcasts changing the schedule, a summer of football will once again change all that. I for one cannot wait.

This year, according to one projection from Nielsen, over half the globe will be watching the events from South Africa. That massive audience means a very busy summer for any business that can spin a link to the World Cup. The British Retail Consortium estimated that the last World Cup benefitted UK retailers to the tune of £1bn and 4 years on with the recession fresh in the mind that uplift is sorely needed.

The ads are starting to appear on our televisions ranging vastly in quality with my personal favourite definitely being the Sony TV trade in ad. Many brands have been planning for this for a long time to maximise the World Cup effect. Walkers have created 15 new flavours for people to vote on and don’t think they just rushed this through, this is years of planning coming to fruition.
The World Cup has 6 official sponsors including two you’ll probably have not heard of Budweiser, Castrol, Continental Tyres, McDonald’s, MTN Wireless and Satyam. They have spent many many millions just on the sponsorship and that is without any additional spend on advertising and creation of support materials. They are matched by six other official FIFA sponsors, but they are just twelve in a world wide rush to cash in on a world watching 32 teams play football.

The World Cup is now a massive business creating billions of additional spend around the world. Google “world cup ad spend” and you can read stories from across the globe ranging from the effect on lager sales in Holland to a predicted 20% increase in ad spend in Guatemala.

I for one will be glued to the TV watching every game possible. However if you are not a fan unfortunately you will not be able to escape this years World Cup, it will be everywhere in the next couple of weeks. So please sit back and think of the positive effect on the economy, it will soon be Christmas.
Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

General Election Digital Fever

We all knew it was coming, but it has finally arrived, the biggest thing in media this month is the impending general election. When Mr Brown stood outside Number 10 announcing May 6th, media plans that have been in place for over a year were put into motion. So now we are off in the roller coaster of coverage that that will dominate all the media channels for the next month.

Over the next few weeks we will see many firsts in British politics. Probably the biggest of these in terms of audience will be the televised debates on Sky, BBC and ITV between the potential leaders. However if the successful Obama campaign in the US is to be believed, it will be the digital activity by the parties that will have potentially the biggest impact.

Since the last election our ability to access information and share with people, both friends and strangers, has changed dramatically. Direct mail from the parties used to be just leaflets and, at the last couple of elections, some emails, and this will of course continue. My recycling bin heaved at the last by-election for Norwich North with seemingly half of Thetford Forest being used to bombard me with leaflets from all parties on a daily basis. I suspect many in marginal constituencies around the country will suffer a similar fate over the next month.

This general election however will see all the parties using every digital channel they can from personal blogs and websites to Youtube videos, from Facebook campaigns to Twitter updates. We the hapless media of course are lapping this all up, Anglia TV has even given one of its reporters the lovely task of following all the local candidates digital output.

All these new digital tools can be seen as creating a new way for candidates to communicate with potential voters. Likewise they can also be a great way for potential voters to get greater access to candidates and parties to find out why they should vote for them. However there is always the danger of trying to be too cool for school and failing. David Cameron famously said “Politicians do have to think about what we say and the problem with Twitter, the instantness of it, I think that too many tweets might make a t***”. Unfortunately for the now ex Labour candidate for Moray Stuart MacLennan he clearly was not paying any attention to that. Although despite the Conservative leaders quite rightly apprehension regarding potential problems with Twitter, it is still widely used by his candidates, including a feed from Millbank HQ itself, although one would suspect a more closely monitored one than before.

Whatever the outcome on May 6th, this general election will be the closest, probably the most exciting and certainly the most covered and analysed, whether in column inches, airtime minutes or web pages. Compared with 20 years ago this election will give the voting public many more ways to find out what they need to choose which way to vote, a great many of these coming through new, digital routes. If this encourages more people to vote in an informed way that can only be a good thing.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant

Friday, 19 March 2010

BBC Cutbacks and the demise of 6Music et al

There have been many televisual highlights in the month since my last column but none as sweet as the sight of Mark Thompson, BBC Director General, being grilled by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. I might have been wrong but within the usual laconic look that Paxman adorns while tearing strips from his interviewees I felt there was a definite backdrop of enjoyment to this interview. Mark Thompson was there to be interviewed regarding the results of the recent BBC strategic review which concluded that severe costs need to be stripped from its operations.

The proposed cull is wide and varied and across all the Beeb’s current media output. It includes the potential closure of the digital radio stations 6 Music and Asian Network. Some of the teenage output will be closed as well as spend on buying in overseas shows such as Heroes. The big hit is to its online division where web output could be halved, backed by a 25% cut in staff numbers. The web operation's £112m budget, yes you did read that right, will also be cut by 25%. It was not all cuts though with additional investment earmarked for BBC2.

Importantly for the Regional press, Thomson also announced that its local websites will be refocused to carry only news, sport, weather, travel and "local knowledge content". He also stated a commitment to never to increase the BBC's number of local services on television, radio and online or to make any existing services more local.

For many years now dear old Aunty has walked a fine line between King Canute and Emperor Augustus. On one hand it has tried to hold back the tide of media expansion from other channels against its position. On the other, expanding hell for leather in all ways especially digital, both radio and web. When your annual spend budget is over £3bn, i.e. the amount of money they get from our license fees, they have been able to do that quite happily. Now in these recession times with a general election in a couple of months and a need to reposition for the “how can you justify the license fee” debate, they have to be seen to be doing something.

By announcing the results of this review, like Hadrian with his wall, the beeb has effectively stated that the expansion era is over and it will now work within defined boundaries. However in doing this it has created a backlash and debate about what the role and output should be of a public service broadcaster. This has not just come from the usual media columns but from the public as well. The most interesting reading has been the comments left on websites against stories linked to the cuts. Time and time again the question comes up as to what is the license fee for. This review on cost and focus was a starting point to answering that question but the wrath it has unleashed would indicate they have a lot more explaining to do.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The iPad - a masterclass in PR

There’s hype, there’s big hype and then there was the launch of the iPad. The new piece of must have technology from Apple was launched with massive worldwide media coverage. Every newspaper covered its launch; it had worldwide prime time news coverage. The internet went into meltdown not only on news sites but the blogosphere and social sites also went mad.

I could spend this column talking about what it does and bemoaning the fact that something that is primarily designed to access the web does not support Flash. That’s actually because Apple and Adobe are currently in the middle of a handbags at dawn fight. However if you sit back and look at all this coverage you have to reflect that its quite a lot for something that can double as a touch sensitive tea tray.

Apple got all this coverage for a number of reasons, the biggest being that its last few launches have radically changed the markets they targeted. Think what the iPod has done for the music industry and the iPhone to the mobile market. Apple also benefits from a customer base who loves their products. Talk to an Apple user and most will eulogise about the product they have, they are real brand advocates. This passion comes from a focus on the design and ease of use of the product, Apple truly focuses on how people will use its products. It also designs them so they are items of desire not just bits of kit and then markets them as such. Would we all want an iPod or an iPhone if they did not look, well simply cool? No, of course not. There was real hype surrounding this launch because of what the rumours of what this new toy will be and will it have the same effect on using the internet as Apple has had on phones and listening to music.

There were of course other things happening in the world on Jan 27th. Other businesses were trying to survive these troubled times and you have to feel sorry for those who were trying to launch new products on the same day and desperately trying to get some media attention. For example on the same day as the iPad launched, Ultimo launched a new underwear collection fronted by Peaches Geldof. Costa Coffee unfortunately launched its new beverage the flat white (something very familiar to anyone who has travelled around America or Australia) with Peter Andre holding a cup of the stuff. You can insert your own gag on both launches here.

Whether the iPad will live up to the hype remains to be seen but it took three incarnations of the iPhone before everybody got it and wanted one or something like it. I suspect that the iPad will have the same effect in a few years when it seems natural that we sit watching TV surfing the web using something that can double as an expensive chopping board. So do I want one? Of course, but purely for testing our new mobile sites on it, not because it’s cool or anything! So while I wait for the UK launch I will keep listening to music on my iPod while taking calls on the iPhone, perhaps I’ll also have a flat white while I wait.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

New Year Predictions

So here we are dear readers, a new decade starts but this time without all the bangs and whistles of the start of the last 10 years. For my first column of the new decade I thought I would provide you with my own musings on things that may or may not happen in the media 2010.

Let’s start with television and unfortunately this will not be the year that reality television dies. This is the year that will see the mother of reality shows finish in the UK as the last Big Brother will screen over the summer months. BB started out as a genuine genius of a programme idea. An experiment to see how strangers would cope living together for a long time in a confined environment. It is now just a way to get on the front cover of Nuts so will not be missed. However this year the celebrity talent show will continue unabridged.

The big question will be who replaces Jonathan Ross once he leaves the BBC in July. My predictions are for Mark Kermode for Film 2010 and watch this space to see if Chris Evans returns to TV for the chat show. Simon Cowell will continue his dominance having now agreed the deal to take X Factor to the US as both presenter and producer, thus moving him closer to becoming a modern day King Midas. The real story of this year however will be 3D television. Just as you thought you had got your heads around HD TV along comes 3D TV and having seen a set, trust me you will want one.

On the airwaves radio will continue to be dominated by the BBC. It will be interesting to see if whether Radio 1 actually gives Chris Moyles his cards as it is reminded of its remit as a youth music radio station not a speech station. On Radio 2 Chris Evans has allegedly been told he can loose up to a million Wogan diehards but what his audience will be will be the source of many columns in the Daily Mail.

So finally to newspapers. Last year was an annus horribilus for all sectors of the press both national and regional. However throughout last year there were some highs as well as the lows. Yes London lost its two main free evenings but now the Evening Standard is both free and still currently exactly the same quality as the old paid for no one is complaining. We also now have Russian oligarchs owning papers in the way they do Premiership football clubs. So don’t be surprised if Alexander Lebedev extends the Standard empire and buys the Independent.

I am sure that 2010 will bring many twists and turns for the world of media and as consumers you will have more choice and more say on what you choose to consume with the little spare time you have. Oh and lets not forget we have a general election to look forward to as well so I know how much you are all looking forward to all that political advertising. Happy New Year readers.