New fashioned viral goodness

designers and developers make up thx 2 Microsoft software

More exciting stuff for Microsoft – encouraging new approaches in the age old battle between the web designer and the web developer. This may be a little bit too much information for some (particularly those pretending to “put digital at the centre” these days) but for those who are really in the know in the world of web, there has always been angst and other great scrabble words dividing the developer and designer communities. Unlayered photoshop files, for example, or file structures, or nomenclature, or “here’s a pdf, please turn into HTML” and so on. Bad memories for many, but still going on across the industry.

A couple of the team here developed a while back a lovely thing called “bridging the stairwell” which brought designers and developers together to solve problems together, with some new understanding of each other’s disciplines around a shared belief in quality output and easier working. Funnily enough, Microsoft have been developing a new suite of tools to help crack this, and this viral (or should I say social media) campaign has been launched to promote it. It’s also been developed in Silverlight, (which really is the latest technology and we’re dead pleased with that) and you can see it here.

Communities are the future.

We’re building a connected agency. Forrester’s latest report into the infrastructure of Agency networks and Clients’ requirements in the face of increased consumer rejection of normal advertising techniques shows that there is a sweeping change required in our industry. Is it scary or exciting? I’d plump for the latter.

Consumers are increasingly switching off from advertising. Not only in message consumption, but also in credibility. Forrester says 6% of UK net users don’t believe claims made by advertisers in advertising. But they continue to seek advice from unexpected places. Random blogs. Not so random blogs. Google. One’s Mum. (Who else would you ask about washing powder or vacuum cleaners? Think about it.) Good food for thought, but the intrigue remains around how agency constructs that deliver single media messages, no matter how delightfully (eg Cadbury’s Gorilla) will continue to warrant the investments advertisers make in them. I think we’re trying to challenge the norms at our place. We recognize it’s harder, more labour intensive, and deeper skills are required, to be successful in running digital campaigns. It’s still not enough though, to be good at that.

I could be wrong (and am happy to admit it when I am) but we have to think of new models that recognise consumer behaviours around crowds, collective endorsement and redistributed social media customer representation. Are we always right to keep shoving messages we invent based on brand and value propositions in front of consumers when they are clearly telling us they are interested in buying something and just want a bit of help to decide on the details? Will communities be the dictators of content in the future?

Customer Service wins out again

Having flown across the Atlantic more times than one’s carbon footprint can take in the past month, I was interested to see that Virgin Atlantic has topped an online customer advocacy survey.

I can see why. Every little detail is thought through. They want you to have a good time. Nobody likes being cooped up 30,000 feet up travelling at 300 miles per hour, when all you want to do is sleep or arrive at your destination. And referenceability for airlines is so important, so if you have a bad time, you’ll know about it. Twenty years ago I went to Australia, and booked a ticket on Malaysian Airlines for what seemed to me to be a lot of money at the time. I remember chatting to a colleague at work about it, and he said “Oh yes, they are the best to Australia aren’t they.” I had no idea why he said that, or on what basis, but it made me feel hugely better about such an expensive trip and confident in my purchase. How do we measure that? Give Virgin Atlantic it’s due – it’s making a huge effort as a company to get my confidence.