3 Top Viral Videos 2011. Viral Videos Happen, they're not made "to be viral"

We often get clients calling us up and saying "We want to make a viral video". As we know by now, viral videos are not made, they happen. If the content is amazing, if it's an experience that people will gladly, enthusiastically share with their friends, that's viral. Here are three top viral videos, with millions of views on YouTube and other peripheral viewing channels and blogs.

5 Digital driven Trends in the world of PR, Media and Advertising

Advancements in digital technology, increasing demands of the consumer and the client, and changing habits of media consumption are all creating a new landscape in the ad world. What is emerging is scalable, adaptable, lean, multi-dextrous and nimble. And collaborative. Smart. The new ice age is dawning and the cold wave is technology.

We’re seeing different trends like ‘snacking’, ‘time-shifting’, ‘place-shifting’ in media consumption. Consumers aren’t doing what it tells them to do on TV Guide. They’re not taking orders from brands, but ‘liking’, ‘viralizing’, and commenting/sharing what they like, what they feel in control of. Social media is enabling that. And Search is helping them find the truth. Separating the Well Told from the Real Truth. All of this is catalyzing change. Agency sizes are adapting to what’s needed. Talent is quickly learning to be multi-talented. And revenue streams are increasing every day – yet overall revenue is tightening. The zeroes and ones. They’re affecting us all.

1. Media consumption habits are changing – forcing agencies to think different.

While here in the Middle East, tv is still king, there’s no denying that media consumption is evolving. In Egypt, the revolution and Tahrir Square was not driven on tv, it was written on the wall via facebook. With better connectivity, higher speed, more bandwidth, and the proliferation of mobile – specially the smartphone – it’s now a digital world. And in that world the consumer is choosing when, where and how. Not media moguls and agency planners.

Consumers are clearly defining consumption trends because, with their adoption of newer technologies and channels, and a proliferation of devices, everything changes quickly. They’re watching tv programs downloaded on to their iPads. They’re using coupons built into apps. Catching a brand message built into a MMORG (massive multi player online role playing game).

Entertainment at home has gone full circle. It’s done the lean-back-to-forward-and-now to-back-again.We used to consume media at home leaning back on our sofas. Then, with online, and hulu and YouTube and facebook, and Video on Demand, we looked towards our computer screens for our entertainment – leaning forward. Now, with tv manufacturers building internet right on to the massive LED 3D sets, we’re leaning back again. Except that out attention is now divided.

How many of us watch tv today, with our iPads in our hands? It’s a fragmented attention society we’re in. We’re driving but talking on our mobile. We’re watching tv, but the computer is on, the skype is beeping, the phone is ringing and the washer dryer LED screen is playing an YouTube How-to video. As agencies we want to help our client’s brands cut through this clutter?

We’ll have to think different. Successful campaigns kick start with integration and 360° thinking built in. Not facebook added on in the end, or a sms broadcast done with a leftover few dollars. And genuine, media neutral strategy needs to drive communications and engagement – which may or may not result in every possible media channel being used. Some campaigns work great on tv. For others a simple Search campaign on google combined with a good SEO strategy maybe enough. Or a twitter drive. What needs to happen is a for agencies to start taking a honest look at need and then deliver on that. Unchained to the what they learn in ad school or what their CFO’s bully them to do.

2. Technology is calling for multi talented people – single armed dinosaurs are at risk

The specialist today is the great generalist. The genuinely multi-talented guy who can develop strategy, create and design content, delve in and direct conversation in social media and lead the whole agency effort is the much sought after. What is emerging is that increasingly clients are asking their mainstream agencies to do digital, and vice versa. And in both these situations, the client is winning. What we are seeing is that digital agencies are usually staffed and led by people who are digital/analog at the same time – they’re part of a new breed who switched to digital specialization having started off their careers and their training in mainstream advertising, media and PR. Usually, these ‘digital’ focused agencies are far more 360° capable than the bigger mainstreams who are trying to do a late game-saver at digital.

An ad agency used to have Client Servicing and Creative. A media agency had Planners and Buyers. And PR had ‘PR folks’. Life was simple. Today you have Social Media Strategists, Community Managers, User Interface Designers, Search Copywriters, Outsource Management Directors, and YouTube Videoographers. YouTube Videographers are the ones with the iPhones. Who also are Social Media Content Creators, SEM Feedback Specialists, Mobile Game Surveyors and iOS Version Specialists. One device. Ten talents. That’s technology for you.

Don Draper of Mad Men hires a digital juggler

All this means that the talent gene pool is getting smaller with fewer people needed. The highly specialized is being replaced by the highly skilled and multi talented. The fact of the matter is that technical skills are becoming easier, and thanks to online, an incredible bank of resources are at hand. Instant help is a click away, as is a lesson in video editing or HTML5 bug fixing. And, finally, collaboration and outsourcing is making a lot of sense. Smaller agencies are often working with each other, often under white label and producing cheaper, better, faster, and then some. And beating the big ones. The piranhas vs the whales.

3. Social media is changing the control room. As is Search.

Let’s face it. The consumer is in control. It’s theirs vs ours. The facebook wall post, the tweet vs the brand tv spot. The unedited vs the edited. Free vs paid. That’s the consumer manning the control room. And Search is providing even more tools, more information, more reviews, insights and help for the increasingly wary and aware consumer. If the brand message as drafted by the creative agency, as placed by the media agency and as advocated by PR does not resonate with the consumer, it not only doesn’t reach, it self destructs.

Don Draper and Mad Men staff check out the new digital age with a visit to Google

Naturally, social media today has become an integral part of how agencies function. Creative mainstream agencies, media agencies and PR agencies are all fighting to create offerings in the space and gain largest share of the pie. The bigger ‘advertising’ agencies are discovering that while they are still ad agencies, their business model (with or without them) has evolved from advertising into engagement. From one way into two way, or as they say, with social media, into a freeway of multi point conversations.

With Social Media, one cannot guess what works and what doesn’t. One soon finds out – there’s plenty of ways to measure that, but it’s in the here and now, and it’s meandering, changing, adapting. With Search thrown in, you’ll have to realize that there are no more start and end dates to campaigns. Say hello to the long tail. Today, once you’ve started a dialogue, the show must go on. It’s a never ending spot.

Finally, the wall between the media agency and the creative agency is now being pulled down, as social media is marrying the two. The contact point is just as relevant as what you say on it.

4. Revenue streams are increasing. Revenue is decreasing. Huh?

Yes. Revenue streams are increasing. A few years ago, no client would call us and say “we need six YouTube videos shot for our launch”. There was no facebook page. No in-banner game. No SEM. With the advent of technology, social media and online and mobile media we are seeing a huge widening of the revenue stream spectrum. Every day there’s something new that consumers are playing with, and brands want to be in that space. Our world is becoming idea driven media-neutral. Once we know what to say, there are several ways we can communicate that to our target audiences and that all put together for those in this industry mean more revenue streams – more channels, more creativity, more executions, more billings.

But not more revenue, necessarily. More and more clients are discovering that expectations of quality are getting lower, or, because of technology higher, better quality is available cheaper and faster. Also, as mentioned earlier, talent is multi-dextrous, and is able to do five things one a project, thus making it feasible for agencies to lower their costs. And clients are demanding that agencies take a serious look at outsourced work – when outsourcing makes dollars and sense.

Mad Men agency folks meet around Don Draper... A drink is needed as Revenue is down.

Take a PR agency model for example. A brand’s typical PR on a launch would usually wrap around an event, a lot of ink in the media about it, interviews in newspapers, tv about it etc. The revenue stream was about that product, that launch. Today, the PR machine works 24/7. Beyond the launch, beyond the event, way beyond the write-up. It’s maintenance on facebook, the tweeting, the responding, the YouTube Videos, the un-boxing of the product on blogs, what not. Yet, put together, as a new, emerging, tech driven digital focused revenue stream it’s small compared to traditional. It’s less revenue.

5. Medium is the new hip. Agency sizes are adapting to new demands.

As marketing communications are increasingly moving into new media, agencies are moulding, morphing into everyone can (or should) do everything models. Smaller teams are more effective, brand knowledge gets contained better, institutional memory gets sharper, and streamlining helps everyone. Large multi-floor agencies are in a position where they don’t need huge teams working on campaigns any longer. Thus they don’t need to be huge to be effective. And with collaboration, multi talented work forces, advances in technology and smart outsourcing, they can be more effective when they’re just the right size for the need. Which is usually a medium size. Which works rather well with the more-revenue-streams-but-less-revenue model.

Don Draper of Mad Men - realizes in today's digital world, medium sized agencies are doing better

Because new media makes new demands, today’s successful agencies are ensuring that these demands are met as standard rather than specialized, and that the workforce is as adept at working on projects or campaigns that integrate social media, blended search, media and content as one, as they are on traditional media such as ones on tv, radio and outdoor. While it is becoming the trend to try and own as much of the campaign pie as possible, agencies across PR, media and advertising are facing the reality that with technology, with advanced communications, and with a little impetus from clients, it’s possible without being big. Medium is the new hip. Or small. Who are discovering the magic of collaborative wins.

At Innovations_Digital, we pride ourselves as being a multi-dextrous ‘influence’ agency that uses the power of multiple emerging mediums and technologies to drive the brand message home. We don’t create advertising, we help the brand positively influence the consumer. And that can come from anywhere, anyone anytime. We just channelize those energies.

First posted on: http://www.innovationsdigital.com/blog/

Five web design trends for mid-2011 that you cannot ignore

The lines between design and development are fading. It’s the marriage of form and function, and that is a true beauty. Which essentially means that design has grown up, become responsible, and it is is now a team player with technology. Halfway through 2011, and there are a few dominant web design and development trends that seem to have emerged leaders. Before we go into detail, we need to remember that lately, emerging technology is affecting how web designers are planning and executing their work. Let’s look at five interesting mid-year trends…

1. Adapting to touch screens

Thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple, navigating the world wide web is moving fast from being driven by mouse and keyboard to thumb and finger. Thanks to the huge rush and take-up of the tablet format (a bow here to the iPad of course,), and smartphones, and even some desktop hybrid monitors – navigation has become a lot more tactile. It’s now touch, not click, and everything is at our fingertips. This is going to change web design hugely.

The tablet format, or even the mobile has thrown a curve ball at designers by introducing viewing orientation change. We need to be conscious that the viewer can via one flick of the wrist switch from horizontal to vertical. This is called ‘liquid layouts‘.

Then of course, with touch screen navigating, there is no hover or rollover. So how does the visitor know which one’s a link, which one’s not? How do we indicate links? How does a finger successfully navigate, hold and then go into a sub menu on a pulldown? It doesn’t. So, design needs to be aware and change.

2. HTML5

Yes, HTML5 is here for good. Thanks again to Apple and their avoidance of Flash, new format sites with any form of animation are headed towards HTML5. Our clients are increasingly asking for it. Flash-based uber designers are feeling the heat. Even in its infancy HTML5 is making huge inroads. Flash is still very much around, (see our post on HTML5 vs Flash earlier), but it’s a changing world, a new order.

While on this topic, one must mention the emergence of CSS3 in design. Elements like transparency of images, text handling etc are now easily done using code, not Photoshop. Yet another hit at Adobe?

3. Small screen vs big screen

This is a conundrum. Yes, for web design we have to be, we must design (thanks to smartphones) sites ready for mobile, ready for tablets, ready for anything. Without blinking and forgetting that while every one’s rushing off to do mobile-ready main sites (not made for mobile sites,but one site that can play on both screens), there’s this new trend of absorbing online media on our tv screens. All major tv manufacturers have introduced ‘internet-TVs‘. It’s tv and internet together at last, and designers are scrambling to utilize all that wonderful open space. The best trends are towards a happy medium. The best designers are searching for the holy grail – the one common solution that will work from 6cms to 60 inches!

4. Ready for a thumbnail view?

Increasingly, today’s Google user is making a go/no-go decision by using the magnifying glass next to the result of the search query. People want to see what you have out there on your site or the page quickly. They use the Magnifying Glass icon and there’s a preview. No longer do they need to go to your site by clicking through. Designers need to be aware of this quick look trend. How does the page look like in micro mode? Oh, and if it’s in Flash, then forget it. As today’s web visits become shorter and more user driven rather than design or brand driven, the ability to grab quick attention is key.

5. Simplicity and large scale photography

Forget the small format tiny little photos. Large, full sreen or widescreen photography is here, at least for the Summer of ’11. Web designers are going where no man has gone before, and treating us to full screen, high-resolution visual treats. Thanks again to the tablet format, I would say. And, it’s not just designers and photographers or magazines. Tech companies like Teletech, restaurants like Kuletos, and retail sites like Chicago L Shirts are all now fullscreen widescreen and gorgeous!

The other design trend is color simplicity. Monochrome or two-color sites are suddenly the norm this year. Web design in primary colors or across a single palette are pleasing to the eye, uncluttered and making big impact. Shun the temptation of the 256 color web safe palette. Minimal is now in.

This is 2011. And it’s liberating. Design is collaborating with tech and bringing us harmony and intuitiveness. At Innovations_Digital, we call it design ergonomics.

From the blogposts at: http://www.innovationsdigital.com/

What does a media agency do?

Traditionally, a media agency strategically plans where and when your advertising and marketing message should appear. The agency, ideally, helps you buy the space and puts your message on it. Today, media agencies have evolved beyond that definition and morphed into ‘communications agencies’ meaning they do a lot more than just tell you where to put your message or when to put it. Today, because consumers have changed the way marketers plan their strategies, and have adapted so many new channels – mostly due to the advances in digital – agencies have to have multiple efficiencies, including strategic planning, buying clout, social media muscle, content development, mobile media versatility and more.

With digital, the lines haven’t just blurred, they’ve auto-erased. Media agencies worldwide are fast acquiring, hiring, renting, even, content creation talents or agencies to become a complete solutions provider for their clients. That’s the nature of how today’s consumer’s use and dependence on digital focused channels of communications have changed the way media planning agencies behave in the ecosystem. You cannot put your head in the sand (and there’s lots of it around here) and stay in a silo.

We don’t look at digital in isolation, because digital is part of every day life and can no longer be viewed (as is often done in this region) as a ‘by-the-way channel’. Agencies today provide strategic consulting and execution on how best to leverage digital for a brand’s communication; how to optimize digtal touch points, develop strategic engagement plans across all media, look at new areas like social networking, search, viral, mobile and web 3.0 for true integration. Media solutions today include a 360° approach where clients are being provided with knowhow, expertise and final product including the development, design, programming and full content.

But one cannot forget that life at a media agency is not all zeroes and ones. Online and mobile isn’t everything, and at least here in the Middle East, tv is still ruler of the domain. And no Arab Spring is going to change that, facebook or no facebook. At the end of the day, come Ramadan month, the sofa and the tv are the hot zones in the home. So, understanding traditional media channels – tv, radio, newspaper, magazines, outdoor – and being able to tell the client how, where, why and when his message should go on is still key.

Media agencies first of all need to understand their client’s business needs, understand the market dynamics and be able to focus the message to consumers via channels that best resonate with the target audience. Beyond that, media agencies bring efficiency to their clients across media planning and negotiation points as they have the specific expertise, volume leverage and theoretically deliver economies of scale and reduce per media booking transaction cost. That’s the basics. A typical media agency in this region would be UM – one of the biggest media agency networks in the MENA.

Today, media agencies will help you plan how you play in the social media space, they will help you market your brand on Search engine pages (SEM), they will put your message inside taxicabs, organize events, do mail-drops at door steps, send out emailers, write on the sky or the beach, blog, post on facebook, manage your website, put pretty girls with handouts in a shopping mall and almost any other way you can think of communicating. Point is, do they know if someone’s listening?

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5 freebies for your next Mobile App Design

Mobile app design has completely revolutionized the work that goes into icons. While we’re big fans of intricately designed glossy icons, they’re nothing like a good set of clean monochrome icon sets that we can throw into mockups, prototypes and designs.

Here are 5 really cool freebies you can use – compiled by Mayank Garg at innoavations_digital – the leading digital agency in Dubai.
And here is the link to the main post...
5 freebies for your next Mobile App Design