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  • Getting to know your Twitter followers & why that matters

    8th March 10

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in Uncategorized

    screen-shot-2010-03-07-at-121125-pm

    Last week Aaron Richard (@ralphthemagi) contacted us at BBH Labs with something pretty cool, and we wanted to share it.

    Aaron was most recently a digital strategist at Big Spaceship in Brooklyn. A while back Aaron created a map showing where @bigspaceship’s many thousands of followers lived (or claimed to live). I contacted Michael Lebowitz at BS and asked how they’d done it . . . a few days later Aaron wrote to us with our very own version of the data, mapped and analyzed. Brilliant.

    Aaron goes into great detail on his site about how he did this, the problems he encountered, the choices he made in filtering, and so on. In short, he used the publicly accessible Twitter API combined with cURL software to play around with the data shared by our c.12,600 followers on Twitter.

    After some fairly smart sounding parsing of the follower base to weed out spammers (or at least people who looked most like spammers) and non-actives (see his post for the detail) Aaron pulled down the following public data on each of the remaining followers.

    • ID
    • Name
    • Username
    • Location
    • Profile Bio
    • Profile Picture
    • Web URL
    • Privacy Settings
    • # of Followers
    • # of Friends (“following”)
    • Account Creation Date
    • # of Favorites
    • UTC Offest
    • Time Zone
    • Per-tweet Geolocation Status
    • Verified User Status
    • # of Tweets

    He then used one of Google’s Lab projects, Fusion Tables, to geo-code the massive amount of information he had in CSV form.

    The result was two forms of map. First, a fully interactive Google map (launch it and take a look, click on the dots for detail), and second a heatmap showing concentration of followers by major cities. With the interactive map it’s possible to click on a follower and see the data that Twitter holds for them (which is a little scary, but I guess comes with the territory).

    Aaron also looked at our follower data and pulled put out some insight about our followers, which we found fascinating.

    • Average # of followers: 1,746 | Median: 163
    • Average # of friends: 982 | Median: 206
    • Average # of tweets: 987 | Median: 247
    • 6% of followers keep their tweets private
    • 9% have per-tweet geolocation enabled
    • 12 followers are “verified”

    As Aaron notes, one can see by the deltas between means and medians, all followers are not created equal.

    So all this is fascinating to us (for example, to learn that @bigspaceship and @BBHLabs share the same two followers in Iceland . . . hi Islenka and Finnur). But I wanted to see what additional uses might be made of this kind of data and insight. For example, for brands, or for non-profits, or just for individuals. I pinged Aaron a few questions on this theme:

    BBH LABS: So Aaron, thanks for this – this is fantastic. But thinking more broadly of potential uses of this kind of insight for marketers, brands and individuals, how do you think this might be used in a more applied way?

    AARON: I think this kind of information can be used for setting better goals. Asking better questions and finding better answers. I think a lot of brand teams have this preconceived notion that they are using social media effectively if they have a lot of fans, followers, etc … I just don’t think that’s true.

    BBH LABS: Give us some examples of what you mean.

    AARON: The particular data set I pulled for BBH could be used in a number of ways. For example, say you wanted to give away something to a few Twitter followers with the goal of growing your network. Send them an iPod Shuffle, get them to tweet about it, drive a little positive PR. But how would you decide who to give stuff to if you wanted to maximize every give away?  Well, with data like this you could easily find the top 20 people with the most followers and target them. Or look at the top 50 people with the most followers, then look at those with who have the least number of tweets (there’s something interesting about people with a lot of followers and few tweets, because when they do tweet their message tends to get retweeted a lot and cuts through the clutter).

    BBH LABS: And for brands, can you give us an example of how they might make use of this? Maybe to make their stream more relevant? Maybe to get closer to their most valuable customers?

    AARON: Sure. You can start to see how you might use this kind of information to challenge large incumbent brands. Imagine you wanted to take on Comcast as a small regional ISP. You could pull the data for everyone who follows Comcast Cares [on Twitter] then look at all the people in your region and start following them or sending them public messages. You could even target the people who are pissed off at Comcast and give them a special offer. Dell Outlet [on Twitter] has +1.5m followers. That’s 1.5m potential new customers for HP, if they provide the right incentive to get a customer to switch.

    BBH LABS: This is only one particular series of API calls, as you point out. What else can you envisage coming out of the Twitter API?

    AARON: Absolutely, this is really just one tiny piece of the data that’s available. I did this more for fun and to get a better idea of how to manage large API pulled data sets than I did to answer a specific question. Twitter has calls for search, tweets, retweets, lists, etc.. If, for example, you wanted to track something like brand mentions you could do that—and not just by using the regular old search.twitter.com or paying for something like radian6 (who’d never give you the raw data). You could look at all tweets by keyword, replies, retweets, etc., and then figure out who’s saying these things, where they live, and what (or who) they have in common.

    I’m going to do a followup to this that talks about how to use API data in a more tactical way, using Facebook (and probably Coke) as an example to find the answer to things like, “What day of the week should I post something in order to maximize likes, comments, etc.?”

    BBH LABS: Thanks again Aaron. Keep us in the loop. We’re keen to learn more as we go.

    If you have any questions for Aaron feel free to post them under this post, or on Aaron’s own blog.

  • A Day in the Life of New York City, in miniature

    27th February 10

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in awesomeness, online video

    The Sandpit from Sam O’Hare on Vimeo.

    This is a stunning piece of film, shot by Sam O’Hare in NYC, in miniature and using a shallow depth of field. Worth noting right at the outset that the tilt-shift effect was faked in post (but the overall effect is far from lessened because of this).

    For best results hit HD and watch in full screen. And turn it up.

    There’s a really great interview with O’Hare here, on the Aero Film site. Here’s a sample, in which O’Hare talks about the equipment he used in putting this together. It involved over 35,000 stills.

    screen-shot-2010-02-27-at-71705-am

    The music is perfectly matched. It was specially written by Rosi Golan and Alex Wong, and composed by Human.

    If you watch carefully there are some priceless moments, usually involving tiny characters doing things that look other-worldly when viewed in this way (I particularly like the scene in which someone sneaks out on their roof – this is shot in the height of the hottest part of the summer of 09 – to have a quick cigarette). One of the slightly odder things about the film is that despite seeing hundreds of people across the five minute piece, we don’t see a single face. This adds to the surreal, almost fake quality of the film.

    Thanks to @finnbarrw for the heads-up.

  • Burberry Global 3D Fashion Show – Watch it live here at 4pm GMT / 11am EST

    23rd February 10

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in creativity, culture

    BBH Labs will be streaming today’s Burberry London Fashion Week show live in the below video players from 4pm GMT / 11am EST.  Thanks to some clever player tech, the show will be broadcast on 73 other websites including Vogue, Grazia, CNN, Sky News, The Times, The Daily Beast and Yahoo. The player is also optimised for iPhone viewing.

    High Definition

    Standard Definition

    Over at http://live.burberry.com the video stream will be complimented by live comments from global Burberry fans. Visitors can log in with their Facebook / Twitter sign in and post comments live as the new collection comes down the catwalk.

    Finally, in a fashion and technology first, the show will also be broadcast live in stunning 3D to global VIP events in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Dubai and Tokyo. You can read more about the project here:

    In Vogue.

    In Grazia.

    In The Daily Telegraph.

    Thanks to VideoJuicer for some very clever player technology.

    BBH is a strategic digital partner of Burberry.

  • BBH New York are hiring Creative Technologists

    22nd February 10

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in creativity, technology

    Posted by: Richard Schatzberger, Director of Creative Technology, BBH New York

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    BBH is looking for a rare breed of person to be part of the evolving Creative Technology team in New York. Creative Technology at BBH is the fusion point between bleeding edge technology, the creative teams, brands, & people. Inventing and discovering new ways to connect with people and bring rich creative ideas for brands to life in the digital world.

    Does this sound like you? Read on . . .

    First and foremost you are a creative visionary with a deep passion and knowledge of the digital world; most importantly, you actually *make* things.

    You never stop tinkering, playing with things, hacking and combining to create new species. Your life is a digital social experiment; the way you live exposes the way you think, and what you make defines who you are. You love to watch people and uncover the nuances in life where you can make a difference in peoples lives. Technology is your oxygen you need it every second of the day and always want the freshest air, but you understand that not everyone is like you, so you can translate it into natural consumable language.

    Do you have these type of skills? Actionscript 3, CSS/HTML, PHP, Processing, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, iPhone, Android, Arduino … and can create exquisite interfaces in Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash etc?

    If so, email your resume and examples of things you’ve made to richard.schatzberger@bbh-usa.com with ‘Creative Technology’ in the subject.

    (Read more about creative technologists in this AdWeek piece).

  • Where does the agency end, and the crowd begin?

    3rd February 10

    Photo: Dunechaser, Flickr, http://j.mp/c6kd2o

    Photo: Dunechaser, Flickr, http://j.mp/c6kd2o

    I went to the ‘Crowdsourcery Potions 101′ event at JWT yesterday as part of Social Media Week in NYC. Not so sure about the event name, but the content was great, and the panel line up was genuinely stellar.

    We watched John Winsor (Victors & Spoils Founder) lead a discussion that featured Ty Montague (Co-President & CCO, JWT North America), Saneel Radia (Alchemist / Chief Potion Master, Denuo), Michael Lebowitz (Founder & CEO, Big Spaceship) and the inimitable Faris Yakob (Chief Technology Dude, McCann NY).

    Thanks to the appliance of science, the whole thing is viewable at the bottom of this post, on video. Lots of useful, practical discussion around the kind of cultures, systems, and processes that would enable new forms of creative collaboration. I particularly liked the metaphor of ‘scaffolding’: the structures that are required for successful collaboration efforts (the filters, the creative direction, the incentive model, the access requirements, and so on).

    Anyway, I was struck by one area of the debate in particular, and I’ve been reflecting on that since. There were a number of observations about how business models (around agencies, and how they construct themselves, most specifically) were being challenged, and indeed how the definition of what constituted ‘the agency’ was evolving rapidly in new and interesting ways.

    As Ty Montague suggested, ‘we’re on the verge of a remaking of business and what a company is’. Bold and exciting words from the leader of one of the largest and most powerful agencies around. In particular, Ty was talking about a point John Winsor had made just a moment before, around the idea that the distinction between JWT and *beyond JWT* was blurring, and would continue to blur. As creative businesses continue to experiment with new models of creative collaboration, and explore different approaches to maintaining a creative arsenal comprising the highest quality individuals and partners, it is inevitable that which was once almost wholly contained within an agency will become, to some extent, located outside the formal confines of that business.

    Creative agencies need to move towards becoming permeable organizations. Those in networks need to be reconfigured as networked organizations versus simply organizations within networks. Creative business must be able to draw on not just the talent within the building, but the many skills and areas of expertise that lie beyond those walls. And they need to be able to draw on this external resource. Like immediately. Certainly within BBH Labs we believe this is the *only* way the future can look; and of course it comes with challenges.

    For us (probably like many, I’m in no way suggesting we’re unique here), this means building and curating a broader group of people and companies with whom we create and produce ideas, and of course, we’re busy doing just that. It was an ex-CEO of Sun Microsystems who once said, ‘no matter where you work, most of the smart people work somewhere else’. Whilst challenging to orthodoxy, there’s definitely something in that.

    Back to Crowdsourcery Potions . . . Ty was hinting that one logical manifestation of this philosophy would be the formation of a broader pool of potential creative collaborators, perhaps more akin to the curated creative group put together by the team at Victors & Spoils. I also sometimes think the Alessi example is helpful here. Alessi occasionally put together hand-picked ‘crowds’ outside their company to help them on specific projects. So for example, on their program to create new ‘postmodern’ style product designs, they curated an invite-only ‘crowd of around 200 postmodern architects to submit work. This seems smart. It also signals a potential way forward for agencies looking to innovate new modes of creative collaboration.

    But it also raises what for me is *the big question*. In fact, two related sets of questions.

    1. CULTURE: If the culture of an organization is one of the key elements of differentiation between one agency and another, when does the definition of an agency blur to the point of intangibility? When does JWT (or BBH, or Victors & Spoils, or IDEO for that matter) cease to be JWT? When does JWT become Victors & Spoils? When does it simply become a set of senior and experienced curators of skills, talent and partnerships? And does this matter, if it does happen?

    2. INCENTIVES: What kinds of models are right for incentivizing the crowd? If the model of the future is going to involve fluid boundaries between ‘working for’ and ‘working with’, what does that mean for how people are incentivized? Not just in the crowd outside the agency, but within the crowd inside the agency? And linked to the first point, what value does one place on the cultural DNA found within agencies (which surely *must* have a commercial value) versus the more flexible and emerging skills found outside?

    Early days, but exciting days.

    All ideas, challenges, thoughts or builds welcome.

    —-

    Notes

    For more coverage of the debate check out Jonny Makkar’s (@jsmakr) neat summary blog post here, Faris’s here, or John Winsor’s short but kinda sweet piece here.

    For more on the critically important role of culture, see Grant McCracken’s excellent and provocative new book: “Chief Culture Officer: How to create a living breathing corporation“.

    Watch live streaming video from smw_newyork at livestream.com
  • We Need Your Help with Pencils of Promise: one click, ten seconds, is all it takes

    18th January 10

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in Sustainability

    pencils_logo_2color_4c_c

    We need your help.

    Aside from reading this (60 seconds) we also need just 10 seconds of your time.

    If we can persuade enough people to give us 10 seconds and one click, we’ll help achieve something extremely worthwhile.

    Read on . . .

    In between some fairly insanely busy day jobs, a few BBHers from our New York office have been busy on a project called ‘Pencils of Promise’ (PoP), a startup non-profit organization dedicated to building sustainable education in the developing world. PoP is one of one hundred organizations participating in a $1MM competition (sponsored by Chase) called the Chase Community Giving Program. The competition is being run through Facebook as a voting contest, and the organization that receives the most votes will receive a $1MM grant. The five runners up will each receive $100,000. Voting ends Jan 22nd.

    PoP is (as of today, Sunday morning ET) in 9th position, but only 1000 votes off the top 5 and 20,000 votes off top spot. Most of the organizations participating are leveraging massive databases and established relationships with celebrities to spread the word. Fair play. PoP doesn’t have that, so BBH Labs is attempting to activate our extended network of friends, bloggers and tweeters to spread the word today and activate some votes.

    Pencils of Promise is also well-placed to make an immediate impact in light of last weeks horrific events in Haiti. With a commitment to sustainability and on-the-ground impact, the organization has committed, should they win the grand prize, at least $100,000 to youth focused projects in Haiti; they will personally oversee and develop these. That seems pretty awesome to us; once the immediate emergency aid is up and running it’s clear that the young people of Haiti are going to be central to the recovery. In it’s modest way, this should help.

    Please help PoP and do two things . . . ideally right now:

    1. Vote for PoP on Facebook: http://bit.ly/4DYKIV

    2. We don’t usually ask for RTs at Labs but we think this is an exception, so please retweet the tweet that sent you here, or cut and paste this into Twitter:

    We need your help with ‘Pencils of Promise’: ten seconds, one click is all it takes: http://j.mp/8naMZJ (please RT)

    One click, ten seconds.

    Thanks

    Brad Haugen (BBH NY; @hoogs), Michelle Keith (ex-BBH NY; @michelleakeith), Ben Malbon (BBH Labs; @malbonnington)

    @pencilsofpromis

    For a 99 second intro on YouTube: youtube.com/pencilsofpromise

    ——

    ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION

    Pencils of Promise is a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that builds sustainable schools, partnerships and solutions to enable basic education for under-served children in the developing world. Pencils of Promise is a passionate community of individual volunteers dedicated to empowering each person regardless of status or position to make a positive impact on the world.

    Founded in October 2008, PoP uses for-profit business principles and non-profit ideals to work to empower Western youth to use their skills, abilities and networks to participate in the nonprofit process in a meaningful way. With more than 75 million children in the world without access to a preschool education, PoP helps bridge the gap of inadequate educational resources for the world’s most impoverished children.

    In 2009, the organization’s first year of operation, Pencils of Promise raised over $150,000 in donations through fundraising events and donor support, built three schools in Laos, and established a presence in more than 20 cities and college campuses throughout the country. In 2010, Pencils of Promise has goals to attract 5,000 new supporters across the globe, to build seven more schools in committed villages in Laos, Haiti and Nicaragua, and to continue to identify additional areas of impact around the world.

    More information about Pencils of Promise is available at pencilsofpromise.org.

  • Morgan Stanley’s Mobile Internet Report – Summary 2010

    17th January 10

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in Uncategorized

    This is a 92-slide *taster* from the full-blown report (which seems to have around 1000 slides).
    The general thrust is summed up in the final slide, as follows (I particularly like the last phrase):
    screen-shot-2010-01-16-at-84907-pm
    Here’s the 92-slider.
    Just vast amounts of data and insight to munch through.
    View more documents from Andrei Marinescu.
    Thanks to @mattrhodes for the original heads-up.
  • A Quick Glance Back – 10 of Our Favourite Posts From 2009

    29th December 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in BBH Labs

    black-labrador-photo

    What a year. Here within the BBH Labs team we’ve had our ups and our downs. But we’ve been facing only forwards. We thought today might be the one day of the year we allow ourselves a sneaky peek backwards. In particular in regard to our little blog.

    This blog’s grown from nothing, through embryonic to, well, at least something approaching pre-pubescence. Whilst we’ve not shared as much as we had hoped in these pages, since launching on April Fool’s Day 2009 we’ve managed around 70 posts.

    Looking back through the content it’s reassuring (at least to us) that we’ve managed a fair degree of consistency in terms of the topics we’ve  posted on, with some key themes emerging as core areas of Labs’ interest. We didn’t plan this when we started, it just happened. (We outline these themes – with links to example posts – underneath this list of our Favourite 10 from 2009.)

    What made most of the posts even remotely interesting to start with was the commenting and opinion shared on the blog in response to them. We’d like to thank all those who took time not just to read but to improve our thoughts. We massively value your contribution, and we always look forward to reading your input, however challenging or provocative.

    More than anything, even more than the 900+ comments on these posts, what we’ve taken out of this first eight months of Labs blogging are some great new friends, partners & teachers. Long after the frothy excitement around this app or that platform recedes, and even after the buzz around great work might fade into Awards annuals, it’s this side of the blog that we will value most highly.

    Happy New Year. See you in 2010. Mel, Pats, Ben

    * * * *

    So, we thought we’d fish out ten posts that we either particularly enjoyed putting together, or that triggered a debate from which we learned a lot (often, it was both). Here they are, with links (via titles) to the originals & original comments.

    1. The Battle Between Art & The Algorithm

    The onset of increasingly ‘perfect’ information would suggest that the content we are served is ever more relevant, the choices we make are ever easier, and our levels of satisfaction should never have been higher (think the ultra relevance of Netflix, Fresh Direct, SatNav, Amazon recommends, Facebook suggests, Google search). We argue here, however, that this rise in relevance amounts to nothing less than the ‘end of surprise’, and that comes with a cost (think The Truman Show meets Minority Report). We focus on the opportunity: a role for genuinely inventive, interactive and surprising content and experiences in an era where the rough edges are too often being smoothed away.

    Read full post

  • Can you lend us your room for an exhibition?

    22nd December 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in creativity, culture

    We need your help.

    We’re after a big room, studio or small stage in NYC for three days in January (14-16th). We’re trying to find a space where we can re-create the Chrome Features short films we’ve just made for Google.

    For a start, we want to have a little party, and January seems like a good time to be doing that. But we’d like to open it up to anyone who wants to come along and have a look at how they were made.

    The space needs to be around 60 x 40 ft, with – ideally – some good height to the ceiling. If you have somewhere you can lend us, or you know someone who might, please email me at ben.malbon@bbh-labs.com

    THANKS & HAPPY HOLIDAYS

    Here are the films:

    YouTube Preview Image

    And here is a film about how we made them:

    YouTube Preview Image
  • What actually goes on at Boulder Digital Works?

    17th December 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in transformational change

    Boulder Digital Works at the University of Colorado (BDWCU) is a cutting edge new school designed to create ‘the leaders of the future’ in the design, tech and creative industries. Sounds great, but what do the first intake of students really think about it, so far? And what are the ‘works’ that actually go on there?

    Some background first.

    There are already a number of (very cool) dedicated digital programs in the US but they tend to focus on individual specialties, such as advertising, business, design, or technology. The starting point for BDWCU was how things actually work in practice, once the student leaves school. It’s a whole lot messier than a school syllabus, that’s for sure. At advertising and digital agencies, start-ups, and software companies, business, creative, and technology people work in much more of an integrated and fluid setting and are expected to be multi-disciplinary thinkers and problem solvers. So BDWCU sets out to be a more broad-based educational program that covers the full spectrum of digital disciplines and media.

    The program is impressive – take a look here. (I only wish I could attend.)

    I was honored to be asked to sit on the Board of Directors and have got to know the program and the set-up a little. What I think is the coolest thing about the school is that the program they offer is live, so is constantly changing to reflect what matters today and tomorrow (not what mattered yesterday) and is led by leading practitioners in key industries such as advertising, design, interactive, and innovation, as well as entrepreneurs and academics. The team led by David Slayden, Michael Lightner and Allison Kent-Smith have done an awesome job of gathering some exceptional faculty to bring genuinely leading edge content and insight to students.

    So, yes, as I said before, it all sounds great, but what’s it really like? What do the students think? And how are they finding it?

    The initial intake of 12 twelve trailblazers in the first Boulder Digital Works 60 Weeks Program finish their adventure in December 2010. To mark the one year pre-anniversary they have created the 12/10 Project. This short film takes stock of what they’ve learned so far, considers their hopes and plans for the upcoming year and sees them explore their dreams, goals and predictions more broadly. It is essential viewing for anyone in a creative business who has an eye on the talent pool of the future. It’s people just like these guys whom we will all by vying to hire.

    It’s striking that for many the reasons they went to the school in the first place are not always the reasons they’re staying.

    YouTube Preview Image

    (It’s available in HD on YouTube).

    Follow the 12/10 Project as it unfolds over the next 12 months. You never know, you might spot a rising star in the making.

    The 12/10 blog is here.

    If you’re interested, here’s a little more about BDWCU.

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