The massively intimidating size of the internet visualized

[First posted on January 28, 2011]



Interesting infographic I grabbed off Gizmodo.
At last count, the world population was 6.7b (IIRC), and there are 2b people online.
Out of these 2b, 600m have a Facebook account…whoah!

Also another interesting stat I read from somewhere out there – New Year’s Eve 2010 weekend: 750m photos were uploaded onto Facebook – and that is just one site.

Take a moment and ponder the immensity of the internet; definitely mind-blowing!


Gearing up for 2011: Malaysia

[First posted on January 26, 2011]

What will the themes Exchange, Expectations and Experience mean to you as a consumer this year? How will it shape businesses or shift behaviors?

We share some thoughts on emerging spaces and themes for Malaysia in 2011. Enjoy!

What’s your take? Let’s hear it.

My three game changing ideas

[First posted on January 18, 2011]

I’ve been invited to a small but exciting gathering of digital practitioners calledMashup. This is a very encouraging sign of industry growth and the willingness of collaboration irregardless of background; it’s not something that you can find in any media industry.

The session that I’ve been invited to, only the second one since its inception, is themed “3 game changing ideas that if/when implemented, they’d change the way we view life”. I quickly jogged down a few ideas in my notebook and thought of sharing these ideas here before I design a simple 5 minute deck for the Mashup session.

Social Traveling

Assigned flight seats are a norm, so are pre-arranged meals. They are not just limited to business and first class travels, but also economy as well. So make sure you choose the right airline. Now what if your favourite airline could do much more than that? What if your airline, or even a 3rd party company, could tell you whether a friend or acquaintance of yours is also travelling to the same destination on the same flight? Or to a lesser extent, you’re able to find out who else would be at the airport at the same time as you without the need to announce on Facebook or Twitter that you’re bored to your wits waiting for a delayed flight.

As a frequent traveler (I consider once a month as frequent?), I can say that my experience of travelling would almost completely change. As I check in my flight via mobile a day before, I am able to check whether any of my other friends would be flying on the same flight or other flights at around the same time. If not, I’m able to fill out a simple psychographic profile of myself and enable the system to match my interests with someone compatible. I get to choose whether to sit together with that person during the flight…has to be a mutual consenting process, of course. No one likes stalkers.

As I check into the airport via a dominant service provider (could be 4SQ or FB Places), the airline/airport immediately finds out of my arrival. My profile is pulled up that shows what books I like, what shows I watch, how influential I am (Klout scores, anyone?), how frequent I travel, how I like my meals, do I like being woken up for meals (very important to a lot of people), and the whole lot. A message is sent to me to physically check in at a customer service counter, not check in the flight, but to receive a welcome gift/beverage while at the same time relevant retail and F&B promotions are sent to me based on my interest.

Would all these require extra miles from the airlines/airports? Probably. But if both on ground and air service staffs are trained differently to be savvy to these new ways of understanding customers, I reckon these solutions would even make customer service easier and more efficient. Imagine stewardesses holding tablets that pull customer info as they go about their duty – hot 🙂

Social Brand Loyalty Programmes

Two words: mobility and crowd-sourcing. I wonder when the likes of Bonus Link and Real Rewards will consider changing their modus operandi; there is an inevitable evolution shifting towards digital and mobile integration if they are to truly capitalize on changing consumer consumption trends. Let me challenge curent practice: we don’t need to swipe loyalty cards to earn points. We simply need to check in. I’ll challenge the norm again: we don’t need a list of unattractive, repetitive and over-valued items to redeem as rewards after a long wait of saving points only to find out they’re out of stock, we redeem for the things we like and consume like a pint of beer, send a friend a birthday gift, get upgraded to first class, a free movie ticket, etc.

In fact, if a bunch of friends check in together and spend a good time buying stuff, we’d get extra benefits/points.We can share part of the benefits with other friends and poof – instant customer referral. New customer visits from friends as a result of our recommendation will give us referral points for being a goodcustomer friend. For thrifty consumers who would rather save, continue to offer big ticket items as redemption for larger cumulated points.

Farmville and Cityville did not become the behemoth of games they are today without some well-thought viral ideas, and they are excellent ideas readily applicable (with some modifications) to real life businesses.


Mobile commerce has not gained traction in Malaysia yet, I would love to be proven wrong. When it does, we’ll look at shopping very differently. Especially the men.

What would be the ideal mobile shopping? Even in the US, prominent retailers are only beginning to find the right formula. Nevertheless, an ideal experience for me would one of tailored and private shopping. Utilizing a universal social graph (I’m assuming there’s one, and Facebook is front runner to create it), the retailer remembers me and my past purchases. I’m able to create an avatar of myself that allows me to ‘try on’ clothing before I buy. While browsing goods, I’m able to see if my friends are shopping as well – I’d have in-shopping chat with a friend while contemplating on purchase. If privacy allows, I’d also be able to see what other friends have bought and recommendations of relevant items. Upon purchase, I get to share a RM20 coupon with a friend for the same clothing line. Most importantly, while all the shopping happens, I’ve total control over whether anyone has view of my purchase. I won’t want anyone to know if I’m buying lingerie, right? *yikes!*

Lastly, retailers should do it the Zappos way: purchase returns at full refund within a 365 day grace period. Okay…before I get labeled an idealist, they should limit this to certain items only that’d help minimize risk to retailers. At the end of the day, when the product brand name and quality relegate to second-tier priority and shopping experience moves up, these retailers won’t be selling physical goods anymore. They’d be selling customer service.

Using POEM to connect to our clients

[First posted on January 14, 2011]

An excerpt from Rishad Tobaccowala’s Four Key Trends 2011

Paid, Owned, Earned (POE) will replace Analog/Digital and Above Line/Below Line in marketing vernacular: Because of the Internet and Social Networks, marketers and their agencies will utilize the terms paid, owned and earned in their vocabulary more than the analog/digital or above the line/below the line lingo of the past.

It has become clear that marketers today have three ways to connect to their customers. They can do so by spending money in advertising and promotion among other things. This is Paid media. They have the opportunity to leverage their own physical assets from packaging to storefronts or their own content/service assets such as film, database and expertise, which is Owned media. And finally because of social networks they can listen and engage with what people are saying and passing along about their brand, which is Earned media.

All evidence suggests that these three media types need to be connected and leveraged together. How companies organize, partner and measure across this platform will be a key development from 2011 onwards.”


So, what does it mean to Brand owners and Agencies in Malaysia?

In today’s 24/7 connectivity climate where consumers are firmly in control of what content to consume, when to consume and where to consume, the “Prime Time” we marketers know no longer exists. To consumers today, whatever time they have on their own is prime time or “My time” ie. MyTime is the new PrimeTime. Let me attempt to illustrate this.

I have a colleague who would download Korean series from the Net, watch it halfway through on her notebook and continues the other half on her smart phone/tablet computer as she commutes to work. Just before she starts work, she has breakfast at a kopitiam nearby the office. She googles the handsome Korean actor on her smart phone and updates how she feels about him to 256 of her friends on Facebook. Lunch time (realistically, it’s probably an hour before lunch) she checks her fb status and there are 7 comments to her earlier updates. One of it has a link to a fan website of the Korean hunk (pictures of him with no shirt on, *so handsome!*). Familiar?

Today, media touchpoints are highly fragmented. It’s hard to target the elusive consumer. The POEM (Paid, Owned and Earned Media) framework offers a simple and meaningful way to make sense of all these.

What POEM suggests is that marketers today cannot afford to just spend money in buying media spaces but should seriously consider leveraging and building scalable capabilities around their Owned Media to connect with consumers. And let’s not forget peer to peer marketing (Earned Media) where your consumers become the channel – chatting your product or service experience away to their friends. (Side note: Earned Media or Word-of-Mouth marketing is the most powerful form of marketing and has been around for ages. But with super social media platforms these days, WOM gets amplified at the speed of a click.)

The digital strategy is for Brand owners to be Omnipresent (be everywhere 24/7) on the Internet, in various forms: display ad, search result page, blog post, fb fan page, wikipedia, google maps, forum thread, official Brand video, fan made video etc. and easily Searchable by consumers across POEM. Brands that are not looking into populating themselves in these touchpoints anytime soon, I believe will lose out big time. Tell me, in this scenario, which Car Brand will win the minds and hearts of consumers researching to purchase a car? Car Brand A who depends on their expensive looking corporate website as web presence or Car Brand X who’s web presence are manifested as threads in forums, blog post, tweets, facebook conversations, banner ads, search ads, organic search results, google maps, youtube videos and of course, their corporate website?

Thanks (or no thanks) to the Digital Revolution, Brand owners and especially Agencies today have to work harder than before to play catch up with consumers. No longer can we just depend on a full page full colour print ad or a 60 secs TV commercial to launch a product but we have to be resourceful and align ourselves with the people network to ensure our Brand messaging is simple, meaningful and real-time.

2011 and 2012 will be exciting times, let’s press on!