consumer experience, regulation, social media, technologies

How to report online abuse?

reporting abuseWith recent high profile cases leading to public outcry for standardised procedures, the subject of online abuse has rarely found itself under such a spotlight.

How can online abuse be reported and managed?  Is it even possible?  What are the right questions to ask?  Where should the burden of responsibility rest?  Government, police and relevant authorities?  Website Owners?  Internet Service Providers?  Another body?

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business, general communication, regulation

Chariots of Ire – a lecture on media regulation

An unmediated hero of London 2012

With little over a week until the findings of the Leveson Inquiry are released, on Wednesday evening Lord David Puttnam delivered Cardiff University’s Hadyn Ellis Distinguished Lecture: “The Lessons of Leveson – The future of media regulation in the internet age”.

The address to a Business School lecture began gently enough, with an explanation that the media debate is all about trust.   But Lord Puttnam’s words quickly grew caustic, laden with a powerful drama befitting his film producer credits.  Indeed these credits rather than media regulation seemed to be the subject of most chatter in the reception before the lecture, Chariots of Fire excitably mentioned several times.

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consumer experience, enterprise solutions, regulation, technologies

Breaks in the Cloud

What is Cloud Computing and what can it offer businesses?

A foggy November afternoon cloaked the new-build surroundings and military grade security around BT’s anonymous Cardiff Bay datacentre. I guessed at a right turn and considered that the subject of Cloud Computing was rather suitable. After offering my details to an intercom box, a man on the other side gave precise instructions where to park and a pair of mean looking gates clanked apart.

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consumer experience, regulation, technologies

Mobile messaging marketing: attitude & effectiveness research affirms validity

OverheadsThe Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Direct Marketing Association (DMA) recently commissioned research firm Brand Driver to carry out three phases of research on mobile messaging, concentrating on attitudes, effectiveness and qualitative focus group research.

(I was belatedly alerted to this study by a write-up from the ever insightful Mobile Marketing Magazine folks.  I’ve pasted parts from there.  Thanks chaps.)

The first research phase was an online survey of 1,000 people about attitudes to mobile messaging. Phase two looked at the effectiveness of mobile messaging across 1,000 people on Marks & Spencer’s opted-in database, and 1,000 on the O2 More and Orange Shots opted-in subscriber databases. In this phase, one group was sent SMS messages; a second received MMS messages; and a third, control group, received nothing. Phase three consisted of qualitative, focus group research among two groups, one who were opted in to a mobile marketing database, the other not.

Here are some of the main figures:

12 per cent – respondents opted in to receive SMS or MMS messages from a mobile operator 15 per cent – respondents opted in to receive SMS or MMS from a company or brand
74 per cent – not opted in to a database but would do with the right incentive
62 per cent – read a message within five minutes, even if it’s from someone they don’t know.

Awareness
In an effectiveness study, advertising awareness was tested amongst three groups (control, SMS recipients and MMS recipients). The control and SMS groups scored 79 per cent; the MMS group scored 86 per cent.

Asked about their likelihood of visiting an M&S store, the control cell scored 83 per cent, the SMS cell 80 per cent and the MMS group 80 per cent, a finding which challenges the view that mobile drives retail footfall.

Asked about their likelihood of visiting the M&S mobile site, the control group scored 4 per cent, the SMS group 3 per cent and the MMS group 10 per cent.

SMS and MMS messages were sent to M&S customers who were also on either the Orange Shots or O2 opt-in databases.  Prompted advertising awareness was 55 per cent in the control group, 59 per cent in the SMS group, and 70 per cent in the MMS group.

Control
Attitudes towards mobile messaging

41 per cent – more likely to opt in if the advertising could be controlled
39 per cent – more likely to opt in if they could control which types of brands contacted them

32 per cent – unaware the type of service existed
71 per cent – wary of the costs of receiving this type of message.

Additional barriers included receiving spam or untargeted offers (both 71 per cent); having to give personal information (64 per cent); and not being able to opt out once they were opted in (61 per cent).

Everything’s illuminated (?)

The numbers from this study clearly paint the challenges and opportunities in messaging which have been evident for some time.  While there is clearly a growing awareness and appetite for these messages in the audience studied – particularly around those who have happily received them, there’s still reticence on some parts, and arguably plain uninterest.

Making messages relevant, useful and entertaining, as well as ensuring the subscriber is transparently informed of cost, will be critical in extended adoption of messaging marketing.  That Orange and O2 are investing in such schemes clearly shows their commitment and belief in the medium, and the relationships it can nurture with both brands and consumers.

Another interesting one to keep tabs on is the trickle-down effect from operators to other mobile marketing providers in the form of aggregators of various sizes, technical solutions providers, enterprise developers and digital and creative agencies.

Market consolidation continues to impress malleability on this side of the business through mergers and acquisitions, occasionally making it tricky to figure overall strategies and where the main revenue is being generated.

It’s more mobile fierce than ever out there now too.  There’s not always the basic interest in messaging due to the multitude of other jostling mobile agendas.  Mobile applications, Augmented Reality, NFC and the minutiae of the latest operating system have deflected attention.  Messaging is the whining, timeless acoustic singer songwriter who might be trying to do innovative things, but can still get the shut up Granddad treatment.

Yet there’s a wealth of opportunity to be had in the side of messaging which integrates into databases and management systems for SMEs, as well as the web-based interfaces which are employed by local chip shops and garages.

Because messaging isn’t JUST for M&S, it’s for everyone.

consumer experience, regulation, technologies

Unlimited mobile data: RIP

traffic congestionO2 announced the end of unlimited mobile data tariffs and left several breathless towards the end of last week. But it was foreseeable and understandable.

Smartphones and predominantly iPhones are the first devices which have properly sold mobile content to a mass audience. As a result, data traffic has scaled leading to congested pipes and considerable performance issues – although only a fraction of users are said to be responsible for this.  Whenever any resources are limited, however limited they are, tight controls are needed and new measures occasionally need to be introduced.  The upshot is often that prices rise.

As the UK network with original iPhone exclusivity, O2 has had the Apple device in its ranks and taken the strain of its data demands for longer than any other network.  So it come as little surprise that they’re the first to do away with unlimited data.

In explaining the  new tiered system, O2’s Chief Executive, Ronan Dunne, likened it to variable speed limits on motorways which are necessary to ease congestion.

Dunne said that 97 per cent of its five million smartphone customers use less than 500 megabits a month, but the remaining 3 per cent, or 150,000 users, take up 30 per cent of network capacity.

O2, and all mobile network operators, need to equally balance the customer experience of the heavy user, the occasional user and the moderate user, with the investment they’re able to plough into their networks and infrastructure.

The rise of riche, consumer-friendly mobile media, added to an audience fraction with an almost insatiable appetite for data, has led to the end of unlimited tariffs. Most O2 customers will pay between £25 and £35 a month when signing new contracts, but heavy users can expect their deals to double to £60 a month for their present mobile internet use.

This is also a move which indicates the success of mobile content on smartphones. That such steps are necessary, and are likely to be followed by other mobile network operators, reflects well on mobile content providers who are evidently providing a broad range of services consumers want.

For developers and consumers

In the wake of tiered pricing the data requirements of these services – mainly mobile applications found on smartphones – need to be scrutinised in greater depth by both the providers and the consumers.

– What sort of product and service uses most data?
– What elements do I need and what is dispensable?
– Is the video element vital to this app? Is it why our consumers like it or is it merely a nice-to-have add on which most don’t have the patience to use?
– Can my target audience afford to use that data on a regular basis?
– Should we introduce data ‘lite’ and rich versions?


For the networks

iPlayer and iPlayer-like applications used on mobile devices squeeze bandwidth to an extreme, using months of ordinary mobile data consumption in one video play, and hogging network space as they do so.

The mobile networks are not banning this behaviour, but making heavy consumers aware that they will have to pay for the privilege of such consumption, using what are commercially owned and ultimately finite resources.

After helping to nurture a consumer appetite for sophisticated data services, networks should also make efforts to educate less frequent users about data intensive services. A quickly comprehensible and discreet certification system could be employed, visible or flagged upon download, which helps to counter potential consumer paranoia and encourage use from a broader audience.

Networks don’t wish to breed paranoia and fear of using data on their networks. They make money from it. Nor is there anything to be gained by misleading consumers into using more data than necessary – if caps are exceeded, data will continue to be delivered but at a reduced speed.

A world of tiered pricing is a simple necessity due to significant data congestion, the high quality range of mobile content products, and the consumption habits of the hungriest ‘all you can eat’ers.

Tiered data pricing means a step back and a moment to appreciate that resources are often limited. We should breathe easy, decide how much we need, how much we want, how much we’re willing to pay, and eat accordingly. Is that so unreasonable?