Thursday, 24 December 2009

Firefox goes mobile...

We're big fans of Mozilla's Firefox browser and we have 22% of our site visitors using the browser. So, we're all looking forward to the release of Firefox for mobile and the interesting features that will be available! The one we're looking forward to is the ability to share your Firefox preferences, history, and bookmarks between your desktop and mobile. Creating a seamless browsing experience will allow users to continue their browsing on the commute home from where they left off at work. There's also a rather nifty way of displaying tabs which you can see in the video below.

We've seen a rise in the use of mobile browsers to access our websites, the most notable being the iPhone's Safari browser and Opera Mini, to the point of having 1.42% of all our visitors on a mobile device. Not a huge amount but up considerably on last year and we're expecting it to continue to rise as mobile browsers and browsing speeds improve.

The Firefox mobile browser will initially be available for Nokia's N900 but other handsets are expected to follow shortly. Check out the highlight video below or visit the site for a Beta version if you're lucky enough to have a Nokia N900.


video

Monday, 21 December 2009

Google Analytics URL Builder...

If, like us, you use Google Analytics for your website tracking you may also like the campaign tracking tools that are included with it... for free! If you have an advertising campaign across different media then you can look at using the campaign tracking tools to keep all of your data in one place. Once you login to your analytics account, click on Traffic Sources and then onto Campaigns. If you have an adwords account associated with your analytics account then all of your adwords campaigns will be listed in here.

So, to help with adding in a new campaign Google have supplied this handy URL builder. Simply enter an overall campaign name, such as 'Winter Recruitment', a campaign source and medium and click Generate URL. The resulting URL can be used for web banners or email newsletter links and if you are putting it in print, we usually generate a shortcut URL and point it to the campaign tracking address.

You can see the results (in the image above) from a small MSc Computer Animation mailing sent out via a 3rd party with a text link and banner button included, both pointing to the same landing page. Obviously the banner brings in some traffic than the text and wil be fed back into the decision making process for future use of that company's mailing list!

Useful functionality that helps to organise the masses of data we have to deal with!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Telephone response monitoring... more stats!

So, last week I received an email from a company offering a 60 day free trial of telephone response monitoring. Obviously, the free part caught my attention as it's something i've been thinking about trying for a while. The idea behind this came from a question I had of "I wonder how many people call us after having viewed the website?". As the numbers on the site will only be used on the site and nowhere else, we can reasonably say that that is the number of web generated phone calls we receive! So, i've bitten the bullet and signed up, the trial covers two phone numbers that can be masked with an 0844 number, luckily we have two admissions numbers to use.

As of Tuesday the numbers have been changed on the site to reflect the new 0844 numbers and the final change over will be happening tomorrow with the course listing numbers being changed. So far, the reporting looks good with an indication of what network people are on, how long the call lasts and how long it takes to be answered! Clever stuff but the part we're most interested in is the geographic location which will help to feed into the comms planning for our local campaigns.

The wonders of modern technology, plus, it's very low cost to continue with so we can look at adding unique numbers to campaigns well!

UPDATE: Just to address a comment that was left about the use of 0844 numbers and call charges. All 0844 numbers can charge different rates per minute dependant on the following three digits (BT Info here). The numbers we are using cost 4.9p per minute from a landline and are included in BT minute allowances. Also, they are now included in mobile contract minutes with O2 and we are expecting the other mobile providers to follow suit with that inclusion.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Demand Five lands on YouTube...

Following on from the posting on the 24th November this year, as predicted Five have now launched their on demand service on YouTube. Check out the channel if you want to catch up on The Gadget Show, Home & Away and many more...

Demand Five on YouTube

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Silver CIPR PRide award for in.beds.ac.uk

Friday night was a good night for the University of Bedfordshire, the internal staff website (in.beds.ac.uk) won a Silver CIPR award for best 'Internal Communications 2009'. A great achievement for a website that was only launched a little over a year ago. The University staff site is maintained within the Silva Content Management System which also runs the main external facing recruitment site (www.beds.ac.uk) which picked up a Silver award from the CIPR in 2007.

At the same awards ceremony the University publication 'Life' won a Gold award for 'Best Magazine'. Congratulations to all of the team involved!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

4oD lands on YouTube...

In what could be a move away from in-house streaming servers to massive outsourcing, 4oD has just launched it's own channel on YouTube.

This could be a reactive move to the break down of negotiations to open up the BBC iPlayer functionality to additional channels or it could be a genius use of a social media channel. Channel 4 are still running the 4oD channel on their website and are still hosting the video content themselves. However, if the YouTube channel takes off, it would be relatively easy for them to start embedding the hosted video content within their own site instead.

With two routes to market and the added buzz of the YouTube name it's surely a 'win win' situation for Channel 4.

For YouTube, this could be the beginnings of a much bigger project, they're hosting films, events and contests already. The most telling part of possible expansion plans is that they have 'Featured Broadcasters', only 4oD is featured at the moment but this surely means that others will follow... Channel 5 anyone?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Facebook integrates with the PS3... we didn't see that coming!

In an interesting move to jump on the Facebook bandwagon the developers at Sony have decided to integrate Facebook functionality within the latest PS3 firmware update (v3.10). Just a marketing ploy to exploit the current buzz around Facebook or could this be a genuine move to integrate more social media within the PS3's core functionality. Could in-game Tweeting be next?!

Watch the PS3 Firmware overview below.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Google eyes up mobile marketing...

Google has just snapped up the mobile marketing firm Admob for £449m in stock. Google already offers limited mobile advertising with keyword and mini banners available on the Google search functionality on mobile phones. However, Admob offers 15,000 mobile Web sites and applications in their network, all running paid for advertising and potentially a great addition to Google's advertising network.

But will the acquisition prove to provide a good ROI for Google? Well, Admob's total global impressions served so far are 126,148,219,631, so a pretty good indicator that they're doing something right!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Microsoft sinks the modern day pirates!

So, it seems as though Microsoft has managed to work out who has chipped their Xbox... and disconnected them from Xbox Live!

As reported by the BBC (read the article here) Microsoft have disconnected up to 600,000 gamers from the Xbox Live service whilst the Guardian are estimating it could be up to 1 million.

This is a rather bold from the company and does make you wonder how well they are going to manage the potential fallout from such a decision. Legally, they've taken the correct decision but from a PR stance it could be a complete disaster! The most prominent question being asked at the moment is how do MS know who the pirates are? In order to disconnect people they must have been receiving information about the system status and any modifications the user has made. This opens up questions about what else MS are doing with the information they have collected and what privacy issues this may expose.

At the time of writing 65 high profile news publications were running the story with only a statement comment from Microsoft of:

"All consumers should know that piracy is illegal and that modifying their Xbox 360 console to play pirated discs violates the Xbox Live terms of use, will void their warranty and result in a ban from Xbox Live"

We'll have to wait and see if the negative press has any lasting effect on an already damaged (from Vista) Microsoft brand.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

YouTube in 3D... with amazing extras!



So, YouTube is looking to push 3D video content on their site... nothing new really as 3D seems to be a buzz word for 2009! However, YouTube have added some amazingly simple functionality that means there is no longer a need to scramble around to find a specific type of 3D glasses. Multiple options for which type you own sits in a drop down underneath the video just select your type and the video switches to that format.

No more sitting around in paper green/red glasses anymore, it's parallel split all the way for us! Watch the video above and visit the page on YouTube for the drop down options...

Friday, 23 October 2009

Welcome to the world Windows 7

So, after the slightly lack luster take up on Vista and it's well documented failings (!) Microsoft has launched it's new operating system, Windows 7. Having had a chance to try out an early beta I was pleasantly surprised at the speed the system runs at and the styling applied throughout. It's a massive performance improvement on Vista and a stylistic improvement on XP so, a winning combination? Microsoft are hoping so, as the BBC commented "Should Microsoft rest on its Windows 7 laurels, it might end up being its most, but also its last, successful operating system. "

We need to remember that there are now many more operating systems out there than just Windows. Apple are having a revival with hardware sales figures up year on year with the help of the iPhone, iPod & iTunes and let's not forget about Linux for the PC users. As Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation says, "Linux is younger and cheaper than Windows, and we are very patient." This really could be a prime contender for the small business area. Also, very soon on the horizon is the cloud computing option of Google's Chrome OS which could change the way operating systems work completely!

It waits to be seen if Windows 7 can replace XP as the preferred PC OS but early indicators do show that daily sales activity is up 180% compared to Vista!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Our Digital signage has been implemented!

After weeks of planning and climbing up & down ladders (!) phase 1 of the digital signage project at the University is now complete!

As anyone who has tried to manage communications across multiple areas with multiple administrators will know, not all messages are delivered in a timely manner! So, we have put in place a Onelan solution which incorporates a large distribution box based centrally and then 17 screens which poll for information. This allows us to offer a branded solution whilst still allowing for a mixture of local & central messages to be displayed.

With the addition of being able to stream live TV across the network and support for more formats than we knew existed we're all pretty happy with the new system.

Now begins the task of training...!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Apple iPhone is turning Orange

Following the news that Orange and T-Mobile will be looking to merge is the news that O2 has lost the exclusivity deal to supply the iPhone 3GS to the UK market. In a deal that has been rumored about for the last few months Orange will be offering the iPhone to UK customer 'before the end of the year'.

The possible advantages to having more than one service provider is that the tariff costs should start to come down! No idea yet as to what packages Orange will offer but I think it's a given that they'll match and probably beat the O2 offerings from the start.

They're currently asking for people to 'register their interest' so if you fancy a shiny Apple iPhone 3GS with an Orange sheen, head over to their site: Orange Mobile

UPDATE: Hot on the tail of the Orange announcement is the news that Vodafone will also be offering the iPhone 3GS, visit the store to register your interest!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Just a minute... video information!

Are you looking for ways to push content to your audience? Well, our friends over in Learning Resources have come up with an idea of one minute videos.

A quick and easy way to present a lot of information in bite sized chunks. They have a series of these planned and we'll be adding them to a playlist on our YouTube channel so if they look of interest make sure you subscribe!

Easy shortening of URL's tip

If you're looking for a way of shortening your URL's for Twitter posts then why not try out the services of bit.ly

It turns URL's such as this: http://www.beds.ac.uk/courses/bysubject/artdes/ba-intarc

Into Twitter friendly URL's like this: http://bit.ly/ytTuy

Ideal if you're short on characters in a Twitter post or SMS message!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

'Battle of the Brands' - Could it result in T-Orange?

So, T-Mobile and Orange have proposed a joint venture? Could this mean the appearance of a new brand in the next two years or will one of the companies come out victorious? Personally, I think the Orange name will stay and the T-Mobile client base will be absorbed to form a mobile provider with a 37% market share. This would put Orange as the largest provider in the UK, ahead of O2.

The issue of who's brand should remain when two large organisations merge can have a huge knock-on effect to the customer. Those with a loyalty to one brand may feel so disheartened by the loss of their beloved companies name that they leave all together. The management of the process and softening the blow can be crucial in ensuring that the joining of the companies keeps a significant enough proportion of the customer base to warrant the merge in the first place!

Fallon currently handle the advertising for Orange with Saatchi & Saatchi looking after T-Mobile so another battle will be on the cards for who takes over that account!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

We've been shortlisted...


Great news for our new internal staff site, it's been shortlisted for a CIPR award! The new staff website was launched in August 2008 having had a complete transformation from a flat HTML website to a site sitting within our Content Management System (CMS). It was completely redesigned to match in with the new University of Bedfordshire branding and has shown some rather impressive stats for an internal site.


The awards aren't decided until the end of November so we'll be keeping our fingers crossed that we'll be able to class the staff site as award winning as well as the main site!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The joys of Google Analytics... the frustrations of reality!

Well, we are well and truly into the Clearing campaign and things are looking rather rosy... for our website traffic anyway! The initial report for August puts our overall site traffic up 31.2% on last year and the Clearing specific traffic is up an impressive 51.4% in total.

This may be down to a small, more targeted marketing campaign this year or it could be due to the increased number of Universities that potential students are looking to apply to. Unfortunately though, a large part of the increase is probably down to the media frenzy that has surrounded Clearing this year. Stories such as 'Student place scramble continues' on the BBC and 'Mad scramble for limited university places after record A-level year' on the Times Online have helped to increase a sense of panic with A-Level students.

Yes, the media have taken the opportunity to build up the story to a maddening level, it is silly season after all, but the sad reality is that available places have been capped this year and that means that some people will miss out on a place at University. I
f the Government want a population of well educated and skilled individuals they need to ensure that those students who have the relevant qualifications and the interest to go to University are able to secure a place!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

UCAS Clearing 2009 explained by the University of Bedfordshire

As Clearing is starting up tomorrow I thought i'd add a video to the blog to show how a single source of information can be shared amongst various sites. This is running in YouTube, on our staff website and our main website and now on this Blogger page.

The wonders of having the ability to embed content from different sources! This post was actually written within YouTube and posted directly from there... yet more functionality from Google!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

I have seen the future... and it's name is Media Neutral Planning!


Reading through the latest copy of Marketing Week this morning I spotted an interesting, albeit small, article on Sony Europe reviewing it's advertising plan for this year. With an estimated £50 million to spend they have decided to move away from TV advertising, which has served them well with the memorable BRAVIA adverts, towards a more media-neutral brand strategy.

Although this is far from a new idea, I think this is probably a move many large companies are looking to adopt. I have been looking at ideas around Media Neutral Planning (MNP) for the last 6 months. To help explain what MNP is Dave Chaffey has a sum-up on his blog:

"An approach to planning ad campaigns to maximize response across different media according to consumer usage of these media."

Essential, MNP is the idea of taking the bias away from your planning strategy and instead ensuring that the most used areas are maximised in the planning stage. No more "I like TV adverts so we'll spend our money there!"

With a small budget and a niche market such as ours in the HE sector it's even more important to ensure that every penny counts and MNP can certainly help with this. As mentioned in the article the internet and explosion in social media is driving the consumers behaviour and anyone working in marketing needs to ensure they're as flexible and open minded as possible!

All online advertising can be a click away from going viral or failing miserably and it's usually the things you least expect that reap the highest rewards. Keeping an open mind at the planning stage and not favouring any particular strand can mean you have the best possible chance of achieving a high return for your investment.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The 'mega footer' has landed

Well, it's been in the pipeline for a while but we have finally moved the 'mega footer' over to the live website.

I'm assuming that many of you are thinking "What's a mega footer?"

Well, the area at the bottom of the page which normally holds information about disclaimers and when the page was updated is called the footer. What we and a fair few other people have done is expand this to include deep links and secondary navigation. We've also moved our social bookmarking links into the mega footer to tidy up the site and reduce the length of the page.

As an additional bonus, it has allowed us to include links to other University services such as the Library, BREO, Careers, etc, something we have been meaning to include for a while!

We'll be monitoring the usage of the mega footer over the coming months to tweak the links that it contains to ensure it's working as well as it can.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Second Life is dead! Long live... well, anything really!

Ah, Second Life, the ultimate virtual world where you can have a unique personality, fly through the sky and gracefully land on an island designed by an artistic genius where everything is paradise. This was also briefly touted as the new step in the virtual classroom...

Well, that was the idea sold by the press and Linden Labs, the owners of Second Life. Unfortunately, the reality is that there are not that many active users in Second Life and the majority that are in there aren't interested in anything educational!

I originally created a University of Bedfordshire island within Second Life to allow a virtual walk through of some of our campus buildings and also to display a gallery of our pieces from our media graduates. Although the initial traffic was reasonably good with around 600 visitors a month this has now declined to under 200 sometimes even under 100... So, with a slight wheeze and a cough it's time to retire the Second Life island and not renew the contract for next year.

Another 'next best thing' is resigned to the archives! It's only a matter of time to see if the decline in Second Life's usage and appeal will eventually mean the closure of the Second Life world as a whole!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Microsoft Office is heading online!

In another move to try and take some of the shine off Google, Microsoft has announced today that they will be releasing a stripped down, web based version of Office with the release of Office 2010.

This is an interesting move by Microsoft who have just recently launched their new search site 'Bing' which is already driving around 4% of searches to our site and is showing a promising start.

In direct competition with Google Docs it will offer lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The applications will be free to use and are to be offered to Windows Live consumers, currently around 400 million people.

No idea on an official launch date as of yet but it will be at some point next year.

Read the full story here: Microsoft Office takes to the web

Monday, 13 July 2009

Advertising on Twitter?

Twitters revenue model has been notoriously ropey... mainly due to the fact that it hadn't run any advertising or shown any way of making money!

That appears to be changing, an article on ReadWriteWeb has highlighted the little known, or noticed, Twitter advert. Could this be the beginnings of a shift at Twitter towards a sustainable business model?

Read the full story here: Ads spotted on Twitter.com

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Blyk mobile network


We've been watching with interest the development of the Blyk mobile network for some time now. For people not familiar with Blyk they are a virtual mobile network provider aimed at 16 to 24 year olds who offer free credit in exchange for accepting advertising.

The idea of it sounds great and although they only claim to have 200,000 subscribers the targeting to those people can be very precise. However, reading through NMA this morning I came across an article about Blyk no longer running as an independent network and instead partnering with Orange, who it already rents it's network space from.

As the network has failed to attract sufficient revenue from advertising it could mean that the only viable way to continue to operate is as a partnership model only. It remains to be seen if Blyk is able to retain it's name following the deal though!

Read the full article here: Blyk in talks with Orange over first partnership deal

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Twitter tool tips


If you're already using Twitter then you'll realise that it can be a little restrictive on features! Check out this posting from TwiTip on '10 Twitter Tools that Help You Work Smarter', it offer some interesting functionality as well as tool to help with integration of Twitter onto your site or blog.

Read the full top 10 at 10 Twitter Tools that Help You Work Smarter

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Website chat applications


At the moment we're looking at ways of engaging our site visitors and offering easier ways to contact us. One of these is the use of IM embedded within the website to allow for our site visitors to have a quick chat with a member of staff or an academic.

There are plenty of offerings for IM software out there and we're currently reviewing which one is right for us as we'll need to offer multiple clients across our whole network... trickier than we first thought!

However, if you are after a free, easy to embed version of IM i've come across an application called Hab.la, it looks quick to embed and ties in with IM software you're already using. As a free service it may be worth a look, check it out here http://www.hab.la

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Digital Britain Report 2009

The Digital Britain Report was released on June 16 2009 as part of the Governments review of the importance of understanding, appreciating and planning for the Digital World and the future of Digital in the UK. This could have implications on the accessibility level people have to online resources and the advancement of delivering high quality video and Flash content without the concerns of connection speed.

Have a look and download the Digital Britain Report from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport website.

It's not a bird, it's not a plane, it's a flogo...

Could this be the beginning of a new trend towards foam based marketing ideas? Possibly not... but the idea of using a red tinted flogo at the University does offer up some interesting possibilities! Mainly used in the US at the moment it might be worth keeping an eye on the future of flogos in the UK, check out the website here:

http://www.flogos.net