Waterstone’s Spy Games

Waterstones Oxford Street I’ve moaned before about the obnoxious ‘RT and/or follow us to win a free iPad’ marketing strategy on Twitter before, and I had another little moan today. It’s depressing that so many of the people I choose to follow see no problem with sending unsolicited spam my way for the outside possibility of winning something or other. It’s human nature I guess.

A little later, @WstonesOxfordSt demonstrated a different kind of Twitter marketing. If only more corporate Twitter accounts would follow their example.

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“Valve has no formal management or hierarchy at all”

Quote

Michael Abrash on Valve:

Once Doom had been released, any of thousands of programmers and artists could create something similar (and many did), but none of those had anywhere near the same impact. Similarly, if you’re a programmer, you’re probably perfectly capable of writing Facebook or the Google search engine or Twitter or a browser, and you certainly could churn out Tetris or Angry Birds or Words with Friends or Farmville or any of hundreds of enormously successful programs. There’s little value in doing so, though, and that’s the point – in the Internet age, software has close to zero cost of replication and massive network effects, so there’s a positive feedback spiral that means that the first mover dominates.

Valve: How I Got Here, What It’s Like, and What I’m Doing – blogs.valvesoftware.com

The Puzzlejuice emails: Designing an iOS app

This might be the blog post that goes on to define TL;DR.

Puzzlejuice logo So begins an epic multi-part blog post containing the entire email conversation between Asher Vollmer the developer of an iOS puzzle game, and Greg Wohlwend, a designer he brings on board to add some serious good looks. The result is Puzzlejuice (now in the app store).

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Physibles: Data objects for 3D printing.

We believe that the next step in copying will be made from digital form into physical form. It will be physical objects. Or as we decided to call them: Physibles. Data objects that are able (and feasible) to become physical. We believe that things like three dimensional printers, scanners and such are just the first step. We believe that in the nearby future you will print your spare sparts for your vehicles. You will download your sneakers within 20 years.

(via thepiratebay.org)

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Jonathan Coulton on piracy and making money from art

Make good stuff, then make it easy for people to buy it. There’s your anti-piracy plan. The big content companies are TERRIBLE at doing both of these things, so it’s no wonder they’re not doing so well in the current environment. And right now everyone’s fighting to control distribution channels, which is why I can’t watch Star Wars on Netflix or iTunes. It’s fine if you want to have that fight, but don’t yell and scream about how you’re losing business to piracy when your stuff isn’t even available in the box I have on top of my TV.

Jonathan Coulton on piracy and making money from art. Continue reading

Kickstarter 2011, by numbers

Kickstarter have posted some facts and figures about their 2011, compared with 2010:

The largest categories continued to be Film ($32 million pledged) and Music ($19 million pledged), however Design saw the biggest growth in launched projects (235 in 2010 vs. 1,060 in 2011), Games saw the largest percentage increase in backers (up 730%), and Dance had the highest success rate (74%). All 13 categories saw at least $1 million in pledges.

I took the numbers and had a play to see if there were any interesting observations to be made. Continue reading

Helipad.me: Turn your Facebook fan page into a proper website

Every small business that uses Facebook as their main presence online should take a look at Helipad.me.

An example of s site created by Helipad.me This service builds you an attractive and useful web page for your business that pulls your news items, photo albums, status updates, videos and customer information directly from your existing Facebook fan page. At present they only have one template design (in four colours), but I imagine they’ll be quick to expand this and add some customisation features, like the ability to upload company logos and re-arrange the content.

This is a great idea for small businesses who won’t have to worry about managing another website, but will give them a presence on the open web for non-Facebook users like myself. If the day ever comes when they want leave Facebook behind, they’ll already have an established, ranking domain to build up from.

A guide to brand colours

This graphic from Usability Post draws data from Cymbolism, a web site attempting to classify the meanings behind colours:

One of the key elements of building a strong brand is color selection. Every color has a different feel and various associations. By choosing a color or a combination of colors for your brand identity, you will take on those associations. Colors will evoke certain emotions and feelings towards your brand so it is vital to choose a color that will represent your identity effectively.

A Guide to Choosing Colors for Your Brand – usabilitypost.com

I also appreciated the insight in this post on the function of rounded corners.

PressPausePlay: Download the documentary about our new digital culture for free

PressPausePlay, an award-winning documentary about our new digital culture, premiered at SXSW earlier this year. It is playing at film festivals and you can buy it on iTunes, Amazon, and other digital pay sites. If you don’t want to pay for it, you can now download it via a torrent for free. This free option was essential to the filmmakers. As Seth Godin says in the film, ideas that are free spread faster.

(via Buy This Movie Or Legally Download It For Free: Your Call – techcrunch.com)

I haven’t seen this yet, but I expect this will be something that all aspiring content creators will need to watch.

The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent in an unprecedented way, with unlimited opportunities. But does democratized culture mean better art or is true talent instead drowned out? This is the question addressed by PressPausePlay, a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world’s most influential creators of the digital era.

presspauseplay.com

UPDATE 2011.10.22

I finally around to watching this, and found it to be very lightweight. It was inspirational to see so many people working in cool workspaces on personal projects though.

I had a hard time taking these two seriously though:

The Aol Way: “a sadness factory for websites”

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Anyone who has worked at a large company will be familiar with these large PowerPoint documents that exist to plan out the obvious in excruciating detail. Well, this is a leaked copy of Aol’s ‘master plan’, full of flow charts, tables, lists and commissioned clipart.

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The Oatmeal is one of the top webcomics out there. Matthew talks about creating the site, his ideas and how he drove traffic to it. While sharing his favorite comic strips, he offers up some advice on how to create successful viral marketing campaigns.

(via How to Get 5 Million People to Read Your Website by Matthew Inman – youtube.com)

I think this mostly serves as an advert for The Oatmeal, which is very much against the spirit of Ignite. Still, there are some good tips in here.

(via @asittingduck)

Proof that paywalls don’t always have to drive readers away

Journalism Online says that pageviews fell between 0% and 20% and unique visits fell between just 0% and 7% (neither figure a huge disaster when you introduce a paywall), while advertising revenue didn’t fall at all for any of the titles.

It’s worth noting that the newspapers concerned didn’t block all content completely from non-paying visitors. Instead, only readers who view more than a set number of pages per month, usually between 5 and 20, have to pay.

The policy is stark contrast from the most high-profile recent paywall launches – those by Rupert Murdoch in the UK for his Times, Sunday Times and News of the World titles. In those cases, all content is completely blocked until you stump up some cash (or at least sign up for a free trial). We’re still to hear exactly how successful this policy has been. Publisher News International released some vague figures that weren’t very enlightening, while the unofficial word is that the policy didn’t start out well.

(via Proof that paywalls don’t always have to drive readers away – thenextweb.com)

Perhaps a paywall like this could work for community sites too.

If you set this meter conservatively, which we urge people to do, it’s a nonevent for 85, 90, 95 percent of the people who come to your Web site,” Mr. Brill said.

(via Journalism Online Examines Pay Model – nytimes.com)

What a brilliant name!

Natural Born Clickers: 50% drop in ad clickers

Heavy, Moderate, Light Display Ad Clicker Analysis
March 2009 vs. July 2007
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore
  Share of All Internet Users Share of Click-Throughs
Jul-07 Mar-09 Jul-07 Mar-09
Total Clickers 32% 16% 100% 100%
Heavy Clickers 6% 4% 50% 67%
Moderate Clickers 10% 4% 30% 18%
Light Clickers 16% 8% 20% 15%
Non-Clickers 68% 84% 0% 0%

[...]

“A click means nothing, earns no revenue and creates no brand equity. Your online advertising has some goal – and it’s certainly not to generate clicks,” said Starcom USA SVP/Director, Research & Analytics John Lowell. “You want people to visit your website, seek more information, purchase a product, become a lead, keep your brand top of mind, learn something new, feel differently – the list goes on. Regardless of whether the consumer clicked on an ad or not, the key is to determine how that ad unit influenced them to think, feel or do something they wouldn’t have done otherwise.”

(via comscore.com)

According to this, 8% of users are doing 85% of the clicking. Given that most email in circulation is spam, these few gullible clicker people have ruined the internet for everyone else…

3,910 projects kickstarted

2010 KickStarter Awards

Kickstarted have revealed some impressive stats about the projects they helped get funded last year:

Kickstarter 2010 Statistics:

Total Successfully Funded Projects: 3,910
Total Dollars Pledged: $27,638,318
Total Pledges: 386,373
Total Rewards Selected: 322,526
Total Pageviews: 50,234,521
Total Visits: 15,766,248
Total Visitors: 8,294,183

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How Andrew Plotkin raised $31,337 on Kickstarter

There’s no easy answer here. Andrew ‘Zarf’ Plotkin is a big name in interactive fiction, and without his reputation backing up his idea, it would probably have failed. Still, he has some smart suggestions:

Some subjective factors that I can’t measure, but which I’m sure helped:

  • Say up front what you want to do, why you want money, and how that money will be converted into something awesome. (A list of features is not exciting, of itself. Describe an experience.)
  • Have a great video. I wrote a script, and then my co-conspirator Jason McIntosh and I whaled over it. Jason threw away a bunch of stuff and added a bunch of stuff; then we filmed it. Twice.
  • Think about your audience and who wants what. I have contributors who want an iPhone game, contributors who want interactive fiction, contributors who want to support my open-source projects, and contributors who want to support me. These are not all the same people. Rewarding all of these groups appropriately is non-trivial, and there has been some discussion about the way I did it.
  • For a game project, include a demo. (I realized this only barely before launch-day! The demo that I posted represents two intense weekends of work; I hope that’s a good omen for my production rate in 2011.)
  • Don’t be afraid to plug yourself and your CV. I know you’re all saying “how could you fail to promote yourself?!” but I had to be chivvied into it. (Thanks, Jason Scott.)
  • Contrariwise, don’t be a jerk. Actively don’t be a jerk. Say thank you to everybody, early and often.

via Andrew Plotkin: How I raised $24,000 on Kickstarter – money.cnn.com

Related: Hadean Lands: Interactive Fiction for the iPhone – kickstarter.com

10 innovative business models of 2010

Here’s a handy list of the business models featured:

  1. Kickstarter.com
  2. Airbnb.com
  3. Quirky.com
  4. Free with in-app sales
  5. HumbleBundle.com
  6. PayWithaTweet.com
  7. Spotify.com
  8. Groupon.com
  9. Flattr.com
  10. PatientsLikeMe.com

Not every interesting revenue model was included. Some of course missed our selection. I personally didn’t choose penny auction concepts like Swoopo and others. People that joined one of our workshop sessions knew already that these concepts are quite fraudulous. Auction platforms like this aren’t very sustainable. Recent figures already showed that Swoopo is indeed in decline. Other emerging concepts like Quora aren’t on the list either. Although everybody is talking about this relative new content platform, they didn’t figure out what business model to roll out. Sounds very Twitterish, not? If I had to include 1 extra revenue model to this selection, I would go for Gilt.com, which has another interesting approach for selling ‘online deals’. Read more about their margins, cash conversion and so on here.

via 10 business models that rocked 2010 – boardofinnovation.com

I’ve blogged about the Humble Indie Bundle before. Kickstarter really does deserve to be at the top of that list. Though you can support projects from anywhere in the world, you have to be in the US to raise funds. There are lots of imitators though, including IndieGoGo. Flattr is a concept I’m probably going to try out soon too.

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Reddit has an interesting ask me anything thread running at the moment: I run ThatHigh.com and it pays my rent in San Francisco. AMA. Someone asked how the owner built up traffic and established the advertising, prompting a candid reply…

How to build a social entertainment website:

  1. Build site
  2. fake lots of user activity
  3. steal a tiny bit of content from all around the internet
  4. reddit ads ($20)
  5. stumbleupon ads ($5)
  6. put easily shareable links on each story side note: I put facebook “like” buttons on each story when they unveiled their opengraph stuff and facebook referrers skyrocketed, so that was awesome.

For advertisers, I literally email them out of the blue. I had a seed seller in the UK for awhile that didn’t pan out, so he quit. I’ve had lots of humor sites advertise, some hydroponics stuff, and while prop 19 was under the media’s eye, adsense was giving me TONS of high CPC ads. I made $3k during that time period in one month. It was nice.

I use Google Doubleclick for Publishers to manage ads, I use freshbooks (the free plan) to charge advertisers with my paypal and google checkout accounts. One time someone wired me money from the UK.

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