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Friday, 31 August 2007

The power of Facebook


Did you pick up on the decision by HSBC to reverse its plans on overdraft charges for students on the basis of pressure from the NUS who set up a protest site on Facebook?

A great example of the power the social networks.

Digital rights


Planning to place your lovely TV spot in a banner or on a mobile device? Check you've got those rights in place.

Enjoy your weekends

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Virtual confusion?


If the subject of virtual worlds brings you out in a cold sweat then I'm happy to recommend a book that is non-technical, easy to read and provides a great insight into these worlds, their value to their users and why people take part.

Virtual Lives by Tim Guest is a personal guide through worlds such as the well known Second Life the massive Lineage II (huge in Korea), World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies and many others. Tim talks to the players/residents and the companies behind these worlds.

Apparently in 2005 World of Warcraft made circa $300m for its creators, Blizzard Entertainment, where the movie Titanic took $420m. The attraction for creators is ongoing revenue.

Well worth a few real world hours of your time.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Arrangement fees


I am now about to join the ranks of the thousands whose mortgage is coming out of a fixed rate after 5 years and the marketplace is a very different one. Arrangement fees seem to have headed north quite dramatically.

I did enjoy the conversation with my existing lender when asked about the £999 arrangement fee. They obviously have a script for this and the adviser stuck to it but at no point could they justify that an existing customer who is staying with them, borrowing the same amount, over the same period justified £1,000 in fees. What kind of hourly rate would that be for a few keyboard strokes and the minimum of admin?

Reclaiming bank charges is one thing, reclaiming mortgage arrangement fees is far more appealing.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007


What is the high street coming to?

I’ve heard loads in recent years about the death of the high street but help seems to be at hand from the financial services quarter.

I don’t know whether you’ve read recently that NS&I is to start selling its premium bond product through WH Smiths and it got me to wondering what will be the future of Savings and Investment products in the High Street?

Will I be able to pop into McDonalds and get a quick CTF with my kids happy meals [all Carrot sticks and water, I can assure you] or will we get the chance to place a punt on the mid250 fund at Kempton park at Corals or Ladbrokes?

Where do you think the obvious opportunities will come from?

Good article on the value of blogging


I found this article on FTSE CEO's and blogging of interest on Times Online.

How true the connection between blogging and share price might be is open for debate but it's a brave shot at attributing value to corporate blogging.

IAB set's up standards for Search marketing


It's good to see the Internet Advertising Bureau flexing it's muscles and starting to get involved in the world of search marketing.

Teaming up with the DMA they have established a charter for search marketing companies to adhere to.

Given that the world of FS is one of the biggest investors in cost per click advertising this is only good news. Despite a ban on buying trademarked names it's still possible to set up a campaign and target your ads to your competitors brand names. In the hyper competitive and price sensitive world of general insurance this can be very detrimental to any client's activity.

The charter is aimed directly at search companies themselves. The interesting point to note is that the companies, to comply, must be certified by either Google or Microsoft (with others to follow). Makes me wonder what the hold up is with Yahoo?

Friday, 17 August 2007

Not completely e-Bay


An eBay catalogue arrived through my door the other day. And after my initial confusion that the items displayed within it did not need to be purchased in the next few hours, and they were, in fact, sample products from some of the site’s more established traders, I noticed a more significant point about the company’s approach to external communications.

As a web-based outfit, you could be forgiven for thinking that eBay might solely promote itself online, but they are big enough and wise enough to know that a more holistic approach works best.

We all know the power and effectiveness of e-comms, but there is something to be said for good old human habit. If I’ve got five minutes to kill before the football comes on, I might well flick through the Ikea, Argos or (since two days ago) eBay catalogues – but I’m not going to get the laptop out specifically to do it for that amount of time.

This also backs a viewpoint that traditional hard-copy newspapers will never die out as sources of news – so they, along with online news sites, should continue to be a priority for PR activity. People, by their very nature, are habitual ‘flickers’. And I’m not talking about a photo-sharing web forum.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Integrating off and online is best!

Jo Parker

Great to see some research from the Royal Mail today that shows that consumers spend almost 25% more when digital advertising is integrated with direct mail campaigns.

Shoppers who prefer to engage with both direct mail and online advertising spend on average £105 a month on goods and services after receiving a combination of the two - £19 more than those who like online ads only and £34 more than those who would choose only direct mail.

The research, carried out by Quadrangle, also revealed consumers’ views on email communications:

69% feel that email is best used for supporting or clarifying the mail they receive

Six in ten agreed that they would prefer a company to approach them first by post, than by email

Over half of respondents believe that DM gives a better impression of a company than email

Eight in ten believe that email is best for communicating brief messages

66% prefer to receive detailed information by direct mail

69% prefer to receive important or sensitive messages by direct mail

This is great because it backs up our own advice to clients. We have seen a huge shift towards email (and the cost savings and targeting advantages are compelling) but at the cost of traditional direct mail. At the end of the day, the media selection must be based on what works best for the consumer.

wikipedia manipulation


Despite lessons learnt by organisations attempting to manipulate blogs, forums and online communities it seems a lot of agencies/clients still are at it.

Recently Wikipedia caught the Vatican, the CIA and the Labour Party (don't read anything into the order they appear here) tweaking information to improve their public images using its Wikipedia Scanner tool.

So it's a tough call for brands and organisations. If something is blatantly untrue the best course of action is to complain directly to Wikipedia rather than amend the entry yourself. If something is not to your liking but not untrue then you may need to leave it to your brand guardians (have you tracked them down yet?) to police it for you.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Capita Enabler

It was good to see Capita offer a useful package to advisers with the launch of the Capita Enabler - allowing an adviser to develop and maintain their own website. You can see the full story here on IFA Online.

For any business the creation of their first web site can be a step into the unknown. Combine this with a lack of internal resource to maintain content (out of date content is a killer in terms of brand image) and you can see the logic in Capita's move. If this solves the issue of designing, building, hosting and updating content on a basic site then it's a good move all round.

The only negative may be that the adviser is tied to Capita's systems should they wish to upgrade their site or take full ownership - this kind of stuff is rarely discussed in the short term but is worth considering in the long term.

Who owns the content on your site?