Category Archives: events

Technology for marketing & advertising – the event.

As a student, attending one of these events may seem a little daft, but with the promise of sessions discussing topics such as content strategy,  SEO, website design and usability, and the use of analytics and social media metrics how could I afford to miss it?

These topics all have a bearing on my degree subjects and any future career choices based upon that degree, the fact they were coming from the marketing perspective as opposed to a technical one shouldn’t really matter..

Should it?

..But first a word about the event itself, the chosen venue was easy to find as Earls court is directly opposite an underground station – definitely a bonus over a few other events I’ve been to in London, but the wifi was sadly flaky at best and as mentioned by another a blogger in the blur group the event app (should you have been able to locate and download it) was made pretty useless by this fact.

Seating areas were few and far between and the chairs used in the sessions were not designed with short folk like me in mind – It gets very tiring very quickly trying to balance a notepad or laptop on your lap when your feet are swinging 2 inches off the floor! Not exactly a fantastic scenario for someone who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome when combined with all the travelling and walking attending such an event necessitates.

Session 1

The first session in my ‘not to be missed’ schedule was given by Neil Burton representing Web Spiders the company responsible for creating the seemingly elusive web app for the event.  I have to say he presented his material incredibly well – that may sound patronising but having tried my hand at presenting I know it’s no piece of cake.

He knew his audience and distilled usability principles into bite size demonstrable chunks without naming folk like Schneiderman and Nielsen to get the point across. The one page shopping cart he demonstrated was truly a thing of beauty and had me itching to find out if it was built in flash or used jquery (as you’ll see if you click the link; it’s flash.)

I will admit much of what he covered was old news to me but I admired his delivery. However he also covered something I should have been more aware of but coming from a tech rather than marketing or design background had not really looked into in this way before: multivariable testing along with a useful statistic and source for my soon to be written final report:

22% of companies spending at least £50000pa on seo (source; econsultancy search engine marketing benchmark report 2010)

(So that alone made the trip into London worth it for me)

session 2

The second session I attended was “SEO the latest keys to success; John Heffernan, MediaCo (UK) Ltd.” as I tweeted at the time; some of the information he gave had me arguing with him in my notes so that I wouldn’t vocalise my dissent and disrupt the session.

I’m not an SEO expert – or even practitioner (yet) but having attended more than a few mediaCamps and social media gatherings I know a little more than the average joe – and I like to think that the information I cull from my twitter stream along with the books I read help to add to that knowledge daily.

The claims made about this session were that the audience would:

  1. Gain a clear understanding of what Social Media is in practical business terms.
  2. Gain a clear understanding of Social Media fundamentals and how to get them right

It is these points on which I’d quite strongly disagree.
He had slides with a lot of different social media sites on them, he didn’t mention the need to see which ones fit best with your customer profile but you’d hopefully expect the audience to figure that out for themselves, he did however make the very valid point that in a marketing sense:

Social media is about syndicating content back to you – direct quote.

What he didn’t say ONCE to all these impressionable eager to learn people is that social media as a marketing tool is NOT a broadcast medium. It is about building relationships and hopefully fostering a sense of ownership amongst your audience in order to derive feelings of loyalty and positivity towards your brand.

Yes, he mentioned making link backs natural (and JC Penny was spoken about) and he eventually mentioned that a successful use of social media needed time devoted to monitoring the channels (with HSBC and a prominent house builder given as an example of #fail)

..but the most basic and fundamental thing about social media is that it is SOCIAL, and not once did that observation raise it’s hand.

Despite learning several things of interest during the session that one lack left a taste of disappointment as it felt like I’d seen an intelligent guy almost get it right.

Arrogant of me? Perhaps, but learning is subjective and that was my take away from Johns session.

If you’ve managed to get this far; congratulations! You’ll be pleased to learn I have only one more session to discuss:

Session 3

This was one I’d actually been incredibly excited about after reading the session page on the TFM&A website; Catherine Toole; Kingmakers: why 2011 is the year of the content strategist.

..Perhaps I’d been too excited because the 30minutes of waffle and example upon example boiled down to 2 points:

  1. Reduce effort – make everything as quick and seamless as possible for the user
  2. Use text and images effectively – have professionally written copy so great ideas from the top don’t fall at the bottom rung.

Now to be fair, the lass started on the back foot due to several technical issues (microphone not working, new mic battery died, laptop power started going 5 minutes into the presentation..) so maybe she is normally more of a Neil Burton type of presenter, but my attention began drifting after the 4th slide of examples and her offer to carry on into the lunch break for questions held no appeal for me whatsoever.

That being said, again I received a source that made the trip into London worthwhile; upon her recommendation I’ve read a couple of articles from the Harvard Business Review and can see how this one at least will be a useful citation in my forthcoming report.

Conclusion

After these three sessions I couldn’t summon any enthusiasm for the others I’d jotted into my schedule; my back was killing me from trying to balance on the slightly too high chairs and my disappointment at not learning as much as I’d hoped in those sessions was tempered slightly by the knowledge I know more on those subjects than I previously thought.
I wish I’d taken the time to track down the web spiders stand but as I had company it was hard to fit in the things we both wished to do – I’m especially gutted I gave into tiredness when I did as it meant I missed out on meeting up with @farhan who was also in attendance and tweeted the fact while my train was heading homewards, but all told it was a good day.

..and having a small child exclaiming in delight over the red ball and flower pen I obtained for her from the confex side just made it all that more worthwhile *grin*

Thursday at the Gadget Show Live

As the NEC is such a large place you can probably guess that this post will not be especially short so I apologies in advance for that.

I won’t bore you with the grumbles about a 5:30am start – nor will I regale you with the 8 near death experiences on the killer HGV infested motorways (mirrors guys – use ’em!) and you really don’t want to hear about the merciless teasing I endured from my party for taking the time to research the show and create an itinerary (which was nowt compared to the teasing I got for tweeting the show as we walked around)

Many a gadget was seen, admired, played with and despaired over – mainly due to the pitiful state of our bank balance. A great day over all with some definite tech to look forward to over the next year or so.

My first stop of the day was scheduled for stand OZ6 where the primal lifestyle lads were selling the vibram five fingers footwear. I’d hoped they would also be selling their coconut water and superfood mixes and my plan was to stock up for the gruelling day ahead of non stop walking and standing.

Sadly, they had decided a tech show would not appreciate such products and had instead stocked up on the footwear – I love the idea, just can’t get past the awful feeling of things between my toes having once used a pair of socks that did the same thing..

From there I wandered around to the test track to see if you needed to sign up ahead of time for a chance at playing with some of the toys on offer, I needn’t have bothered because they were using a first come first served policy as shown by the large queues around the track throughout the day.

While I was there I thought I’d get a proper look at the yike bike – I’ve been excited about having a go on one of these babies since I first heard about them, it’s likely the closest I’d get to a motorbike ever again with my health issues – and the way it folds up makes it the perfect solution to my fatigue travel issues.

The guy I chatted to on the stand was indeed a lovely bloke, more than happy to demonstrate the product, fold it up, let me hold it and play with the buttons – even though in the first 30 seconds of our conversation it was established that I’d never be able to buy one in its current incarnation, not because of price (though that is an issue) but as I’m PHYSICALLY TOO SHORT! ..By three inches.

I was gutted. There went an hour of my carefully planned schedule along with a vast amount of shine to the day – this was one product I’ve been salivating over for ages and to find that I couldn’t even get on it because of my petite stature was more disappointing than you can imagine.

..BUT, there is apparently a plan for smaller (and less expensive) versions of the bike.

Currently it retails at £2999 mainly due to the carbon fibre necessary for the weight, they are looking at other materials to bring down the price without too much compromise on the weight front, but for me – the issue is size, fingers crossed all issues are sorted by next years show so I can have a go and possibly plonk down some wonga.

From there I walked around in a slightly aimless daze, too upset to stick to any plan – until I came across the kung-fu live game, this was another piece of tech that I’ve been looking forward to trying, I used to dabble in the martial arts before being struck down with ME/CFS (as any long term reader here knows) so this would be a way of bringing that aspect of my old life back without too much risk.

..or so I thought! I managed to make it to round 3 but think I got more of a work out from those 2 rounds than I ever have from wii sports and wii fit combined. I was shattered and it was only 10:20 in the morning. But I love the game and I love the ideas that the team behind it are working on to improve it so that it will finally be ready for market.

Kung-fu live by The Virtual Air Guitar Company will be THE game to make me finally embrace the PS3 – if they can make it so that folks can play against each other online it’ll be unstoppable (sadly that wasn’t a plan they mentioned that I can recall)

From there I staggered off to find the rest of my party and drag them back to have a look, they were at the Roland V-drum stand (tech that I’ve wanted for at least a decade so won’t gush over now because I know that bella will get it at some point if she shows a liking for drums..)

They all declined to look like idiots in front of the crowd so we ambled around to the next stand and there I fell in love – this piece of tech has been added to my christmas wishlist.

The Neurosky mindset headset was something that looked a bit too new and a bit ‘meh’ at first glance, the stand just had the demonstrator (Jim Sullivan – lovely bloke from San Jose) and a couple of rather bulky looking headsets, one being used by a lass to play an arcade style space invaders game, the other just sat by a laptop.

Sadly Jim probably didn’t help make a sale because he talked passionately to us about the chip and the tech behind the headset and it’s other applications as opposed to showing what the headset itself could do – all very exciting stuff but not of interest to my beloved if he couldn’t see it then and there.

Anyhow, we then were offered a chance to see an explanation of what he was talking about, the laptop was opened up and the 2nd set of headphones placed on my head with the ”mind reading prong” (our words not his) adjusted so that it made a decent contact.

The brainwave visualizer was then able to pick up my brain waves and display them on screen – but that wasn’t the fun bit, the ‘speed’ dials on the right showed your concentration and calmness levels (calmness being called meditation for some reason) you had to try and get the indicator to hit the 100 mark on the concentration dial. I managed an (apparantly) respectable 96, my other half got a ‘normal’ 70

..so yah boo sucks Mr ‘why don’t you concentrate?’ I obviously concentrate more than you! *ahem* ..mind you Officer brother-in-law managed the full 100 in half the time it took me so I guess gloating is not a possibility here.

I just think this application alone makes it worth my money – being able to see how my brain readings differ during an ME/CFS episode compared to when I’m ‘normal’ might help me understand the condition a little more – or to accept it at least, physical proof of a change in my brain chemistry would go a long way to alleviating the constant guilt and worry I feel at not being able to ‘pull my own weight’ ..but that’s just supposition, probably to justify the want *grin* I REALLY want one of these things!

Check out their website and if you go to the show have a ganders because the possibilities it raises for future tech are amazing.

If the headset doesn’t thrill you but a physical game might then at stand G20 is the Mattell Mind flex game based on the same technology, sadly not available in the UK until July according to the lad I spoke to and will cost around £80.

At stand H12 was another disappointment for me – Laptek International were showing off some incredibly useful little laptop bag workstations, only available to buy wholesale. I think I would have bought one then and there even at the £70.00 pricetag, purely for the usefulness of it.

Added to my list of personal disappointment was the Elonix stand. Showing on signage that could be seen across many stands was an e-reader incorporating a seperate colour lcd screen. I rushed over for a look because despite much reading up on e-readers this one had flown beneath my radar!

..For a reason, it’s not yet in production despite showing on all their glossy pamphlets.

We looked at the mini projectors that most of the presenting tech crowd have salivated over for months, we stumbled blindly through the gaming crowd (not a free station in sight, these lads and lasses were playing for the day!) I got caught up on the band hero stand as no one would take the mic from me (so I murdered bring me to life, ABC and managed to do justice to black horse and a cherry tree before tricking some lass into holding the mic while I ducked out of the crowd and made my escape)

Thankfully there was plentiful seating around so I had plenty of rest breaks throughout the day, thanks to sister-in-law we were fed and watered regularly (she’s such a great mother hen) so I had nary a crash despite all this activity.

One stand did nearly kill me off though and I needed the respite at the bar afterwards – the backinaction mobiliser was being given the hardsell by a team of very motivated individuals. I will admit the literature was interesting, the very fact that the lass had a sheet specifically tailored for folks with ME/MS and Fibromyalgia caught my attention.

Sadly after lying on this torture device for not even the full three minutes I could see no way of them parting me from such a hefty wedge of cash for the ‘treatment’ I left the ‘no pain, no gain’ mindset back in the 80’s!

The only problem was, after getting up from this massage table I was shaking from the inside out, I felt really woozy (weird!) and all day my back and buttocks were in pain – if you like a really deep intense massage then this one is for you – it’s definitely a powerful machine! ..but I’m a delicate lil flower and pain is REALLY not my game.

Another interesting ‘health’ option was the holographic technology being touted by EFX sports. The gent gave me a balance test that despite being very convincing just couldn’t rid me of my skepticism. He claimed that their holograms could help with RSI and muscle injuries as well as the touted balance and performance.

Perhaps if I hadn’t the experience of being targeted over the years for ‘cures’ for my various illnesses then I’d be more receptive; it would be great if I could find relief from a couple of shiny stickers – but sadly I’m no longer that gullible – seductive as the idea is..

The afternoon was spent mopping up and checking out the areas too crowded earlier to see properly, We very nearly purchased an ibird for Isabella but decided that she’d destroy such a fragile thing in seconds, we also very nearly purchased a papershow kit but then after discussing our product options decided we wouldn’t use it as much as we could in an effort to preserve the paper (thereby negating the purpose of it in an attempt to save cash)

Which is why the yogen charger for life was my first purchase of the day, I have a G1 and it needs to be charged daily, sometimes twice daily depending on usage – this little beauty will give me enough for that emergency call or text if I’m out and about and have an ME/CFS episode without stef – well worth the cash on my part!

Our second and final purchase (since I wasn’t allowed the neurosky headset) was the Interactive Digital Eye massager ID900 – fabulous bit of kit! We own many stimulating products but no relaxing ones, since after about 30 seconds of using it at the stand I wanted my bed we were sold.

Sadly upon using it at home in a quiet room the effects were not as relaxing, the unit beeps very loudly and the whirring seems fairly annoying – but despite that it is still a very pleasent sensation and i’m betting the next headache I get is massaged into non existance by this little beauty.

So, that was my take on the gadgets show live. I know I’ve failed to mention the 101 home cinema and surround sound systems, the plethora of tv viewing devices (and tvs in general) but we bypassed those – especially after hearing the Pioneer IT guy say that using a default wifi router password would be sufficient to protect your connection (um.. not now the digital economy bill has passed, dodgy folks will be looking to crack as many wireless connections as possible to hide illegal activity and default passwords are easy to crack!)

Let me know if there’s anything you preferred because despite my best efforts I’m sure I missed something – and if you disagree/ agree with my opinions it’ll be interesting to know why so feel free to leave a comment and link to your own record of the day.