Matthew

Creating a CT Creative Corridor

January 28, 2012 in The Ad Business

This week, Seizo and I went to an interesting seminar led by Marian Salzman, president of EURO PR. Marian has done a ton of work related to the talent pool – and talent drain – of Fairfield county. For those who don’t know, Fairfield is in the southwest corner of CT, on the doorstep of NYC. Many people commute into NY for work. There are also multiple ad agencies and corporations based here. For many years, however, the county has been perceived as a backwater where senior execs ‘retire’ on the job with soft assignments after busting their butts for years in NY.

Fact is, Fairfield is kicking it. But how do we nurture a climate that attracts top talent to live & work? It’s an arduous assignment akin to turning around the Queen Mary. In my opinion, some of the answer lies in working with universities to establish programs. However, there are already top-flight programs in NY at SVA, NYU, Pratt, Parsons, FIT, etc. What could we offer that they don’t have? To me, the private sector should drive the curriculum. The companies of Fairfield county – GE, Nielsen, Playtex, Xerox, Diageo, etc. – should be actively engaged to articulate the creative services (and training) they need in the years to come. Relying on colleges to blow the dust off their syllabi and mint a gaggle of grads every year is not the answer, no matter how high-tech the facility and how many $ are thrown at the problem. The students just end up in debt, and many then can’t get jobs, anyway.

I believe higher education should be free, with most of the costs footed by the private sector. This philosophy is not so radical — many universities were founded on the notion of free, like Stanford and my grad school alma mater, the City University of NY. CUNY was tuition-free until the fiscal crisis of the mid-70′s. Companies would be more than happy to pay for the training if it were developing their talent. And picture the lure for an 18-year old: you can move to Fairfield County, get a free college education, with a job at the end of the rainbow. It would be a fertile row in the field of a Creative Corridor.

At The Voice, we are building a model that combines work, education and even living quarters for an all-in-one environment. We are small, and I don’t claim to have the answer, but it’s our answer. I actively support the efforts of the talented and committed people behind the CT Creative Corridor initiative. I have uploaded Marian’s excellent report here. CTcreativecorridor_Book_FINAL

Seizo

What growing iPad use might mean for your business

January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

iPads are being used in business more and more

According to a recent Survey by IDG, iPad use is growing among IT pros.  In fact iPad use has seen huge growth in business in general.

What this means is that many of people you are trying to reach have iPads, or will be getting them shortly. 67% of Professionals in the US use their iPad at work.  According to the survey.

IT and business professionals use their iPads more intensively, across a wider range of scenarios. Fully 51% of IT decision-makers say they “always” use their iPad at work (and a further 40% say they sometimes use it at work). Out-of-home usage is even more intense, with 79% of IT decision-makers saying that they “always” use their iPads “on the move”.

It’s becoming an app-centric world and if you want to compete, you need to be able to reach people with apps.

How does this play in regards to which platform to develop in?

I read another interesting article yesterday and it talked about the importance of the app stores (Apple, Google, or Amazon) and the lack of app stores for HTML 5/JS mobile apps.  Some companies are trying to circumvent the app stores by deploying standards based mobile application.  The problem with it is not a technological one in terms of getting adoption for their app.  The problem is a business problem.  There is no centralized app store for Standards Based apps, so they are difficult to find.  The app stores have such tight integration into the host operating system that just finding those other apps, as good as they may be, becomes much harder.

So what’s The Rub

Businesses have decisions to make.The choice of platform depends on where your audience is, what devices they have, and how they use them.  These are decisions that need serious consideration as more and more businesses decide to move into the app world.  The iPad is certainly a great platform to deploy to.  It has wide acceptance with both consumers and business professionals.  Is it the best platform for any app? Not necessarily.  Again it depends on your target market, where they go, what they are doing, and what devices they are doing it with.

david

Why Does Your Business Now Need a Google+ Page?

January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Google announced the launch of its anticipated Google+ pages for businesses.  Furthermore, these pages will be showing up prominently in the search results, much to the dismay of Facebook, Twitter and others.

Let’s not debate about whether or not it is fair like the people at these social media giants.  Google is throwing their muscle into their social media + pages and is likely not to give in because of the seemingly petulant claims by Facebook, Twitter, etc. of inequitable search results.

Businesses are now left with little other choice than to create a Google+ page to showcase their products or services or risk losing market share to their competition.

What should you consider when creating your Google+ business profile?

  1.  You need to consider what keywords people will use to search for your services so that you will show up in the search results.
  2. Upload images to showcase your products or services to potential customers.  Images are becoming more and more relevant in search results and are a great way to showcase your business.
  3. Use your Google + page to post, post, post!  Again, try to think of and use keyword that will allow people looking for your services to find your Google + page in the search results.  When they arrive at your page they should find up-to-date information about what it is you do/provide and be able to see examples.

Lesson: businesses that refuse to participate in Google+ pages for business risk losing ground in search engine results pages!

Image Sprites in css. Why use them

January 24, 2012 in Art Direction

Today I am going to share about sprite images being used in web design. What they are and why they are a life saver.

Sprite is a combination of images into one big image. The idea of using sprites originated from the term “sprites” that comes from old school computer graphics and the video game industry. The idea was that the computer could fetch a graphic into memory, and then only display parts of that image at a time, which was faster than having to continually fetch new images.  (Reference: http://css-tricks.com/css-sprites/).The concept is being applied to web design so the sprite image is fetched once and parts of that image are displayed at different locations on the website. Css is used for positioning and alignment.

It’s a life saver to our traditional web design practice of slicing and saving small individual images. Even though smaller images might be believed to load faster but because we usually have so many of them on a page each image load time can significantly decrease the speed of page load and navigation and moving through a website.

Why we need to embrace this concept is pretty evident. Most of the websites these days are being accessed on mobile devises and the load time on a mobile device really frustrates the user and can drive customer and users away from a site.

Table 1 shows popular web sites spending between 5% and 38% of the time downloading the HTML document. The other 62% to 95% of the time is spent making HTTP requests to fetch all the components in that HTML document (i.e. images, scripts, and stylesheets).  Experience shows that reducing the number of HTTP requests has the biggest impact on reducing response time and is often the easiest performance improvement to make.

Table-1

Time Retrieving HTML Time Elsewhere
Yahoo 10% 90%
Google 25% 75%
MySpace 9% 91%
MSN 5% 95%
ebay 5% 95%
Amazon 38% 62%
YouTube 9% 91%
CNN 15% 85%

(Reference: http://css-tricks.com/css-sprites/)

As there are pluses and minus of everything sprites has them to. I will highlight some scenarios why sprites should not be adopted but overall sprites can be used in most cases for improvement.  Sprites are absolutely required for high traffic sites such as yahoo, msn which get huge traffic.  One the other hand Sprite images will be hard to update and change if you do not have the actual image manipulation files (psd or other image software files). It will be more work in that scenario or on a site where there will be no or few images. One basic part of all sites that sprites can be applied to easily is the navigation bar.

Some useful links to get you started with sprites.

Plugin for sprite : Spriteme:  http://spriteme.org/

Sprite and Java script in combinationhttp://www.alistapart.com/articles/sprites2

Tutorial on Sprites: http://cssglobe.com

Matthew

Janus, the Two-Faced God

January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Janus, the two-faced god

Like Janus, The Voice looks both forward and back

January is named for Janus, the Roman two-faced god. One looks forward, to the new year. The other, back to the year past.

The Voice also has a split personality. One side are senior folk who know what they are doing. The other side of the coin is emerging talent, often as green as a field.

Do clients care? They certainly care about the senior talent. Customers want to “fly with eagles” as one peer recently said. They want best-in-class solutions from seasoned professionals, Do they care about the jr. talent? Sometimes. Occasionally there is a perceived notion that with new heads comes fresh thinking. Often customers are altruistic, believing that our apprentices should “get a shot.”

The interns in our model certainly don’t grow our business, from an advertising agency POV. But it is what we are all about. The Voice was founded 10 years ago to address a need: give emerging talent the chance to work on real projects for actual clients. To date, over 35 interns have come through our program. We will continue to evolve and grow to provide even more opportunity to them. The rest of us will have to accept our role as the older guy of Janus.

Seizo

Online ad spending larger than print for first time ever

January 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

2012 will be the year that online advertising will outsell print advertising.  What does that mean for your business?

For many business it means that they will be more visible.  Properly targeted ads which is the strongest positive for online advertising, means that marketers can use their dollars more wisely.  As online advertising providers like Google, continue to improve their models and technologies for targeting ads, and as mobile grows this presents great opportunities for smart businesses to create new customers.

This also means that if you’re advertising but you’re not buying online advertising you are missing the boat. It means that your competitors have an opportunity to steal your customers by providing them with the right offers and buying opportunities, especially with mobile.  This last holiday season taught us that consumers buying from their iPads spent roughly 30% more than their non-iPad counterparts who were shopping from their desktops.

Targeted ads are one factor.  But another important factor is that you still need to grab your customer’s attention.  You still need to have well crafted ads that look good and connect with your audience.  This requires good design and execution (including strong SEO and SEM strategies), and is something that we work closely with our clients to achieve.  Great design, research and execution can make the most of your advertising dollars.

david

Ignore the Shift to Mobile at Your Own Peril

January 16, 2012 in Mobile

Once again it seems that businesses are behind the curve when it comes to mobile.  In fact, according to L2 (a think tank for digital innovation), only two-thirds of indexed brands have mobile-optimized sites, and yet a full third of those don’t allow consumers to shop from those sites. Many also fail to provide the full range of content available on their desktop sites, including product search and user ratings, to mobile audiences.

Is it because the move to mobile apps seems daunting?  Is it because these decision makers feel like it will be too expensive?  Neither of these points are reasons not to move forward with developing an app. The development of a mobile app can be a relatively easy process.  Also, compared to what you can lose by not providing your customers with a rich UI and a functional mobile app, it is relatively cheap.  Forrester predicted that by 2016 (which is right around the corner), mobile sales will account for $31 billion dollars. Companies large and small are risking a great deal in potential revenue if they do not make the move soon.

Simply put, mobile is here to stay.  The trend will soon be the norm and companies will have to not only create a mobile app, but be able to provide a UI and UX that will make it stick.  And, while a great user Interface and experience is a must, many companies are not taking advantage of all that can be done when it comes to mobile.  For example, there is monetization, geo-synchronization, and much, much more.

Even if you do not feel the need to create a mobile app, at least optimize your website for mobile.  Companies who do not, come off looking foolish.

 

 

 

 

 

Shweta

Introduction to Google Analytics

January 12, 2012 in Search Engine Optimization

Most businesses have websites, but have no idea about their website’s incoming traffic or customers or pages that customer’s are visiting on the website. This makes it difficult for businesses to identify issues with their website or find out which pages are more interesting to their customers.

Google analytics is a free web analytics solution that allows you to track your website traffic, where the traffic comes from, which pages they visit, how much time they spend on your website, which pages are not interesting etc. It is quite a powerful and easy-to-use tool for analyzing website traffic and uncovering trends. It is also very easy to setup – all you need is a Google mail account. After getting a free google account, you can visit analytics.google.com and sign up for Google analytics.

Once you sign up, you can fill up a form with the name of your website. This will create your google analytics account and generate a unique tracking code for your website (something similar to UA-XXXXXXXX-1). It will also generate a tracking script code, which needs to be copied on your website’s homepage and every page to be tracked. Once the Google analytics tracking code is copied on your webpages, the results will be available on the google analytics website after 24 hours. It’s that easy.

Some of the basic and advanced features of google analytics are as follows:

  •  Dashboards

Put all the information you need on a custom Dashboard that provides a snapshot of all the relevant data on a single platform

  • Custom Reports

A drag and drop interface lets you select the metrics you want and define multiple levels of sub-reports

  • Analytics Intelligence

Allows you to compare your website statistics with similar other websites and benchmarks

  • Advanced Segmentation

Isolate and analyze subsets of your traffic such as “Paid Traffic” or “Organic Traffic”

  • Advanced Analysis Tools

Perform advanced data analysis with pivot tables, multiple dimensions and filtering  

  • Data Export

Export your data directly from the Google Analytics interface into Excel, CSV, PDF and tab delimited files

  • Goal Funnels

Visualize your conversion funnel. Fix leaks by seeing which pages result in lost opportunities and where your would be customers go

  • Sharing and communicating

Control how sensitive data is shared and which reports are available to users on your account

david

Adapt or Perish

January 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment. “  Charles Darwin ~ British Naturalist and Author (1809 – 1882)

Adapt or perish – it’s not only the rule in nature, but in business as well.  All of a sudden, companies were “forced” in the late nineties and the early 21st century to have a web presence.  Now, that same shift in how companies communicate to other businesses and their consumers has taken a quantum leap.  The power of social media can propel your message across the world in a matter of seconds, and it seems every company has to manage their presence on that front.

Where companies were previously seen as not serious about their business if they didn’t have a website, the same is true now in respect to social media.  The problem we see with many businesses is that they have waited so long to get started that they are behind the curve.

There are so many daunting aspects to social media and the technology involved that many people tasked with managing this part of their business have turned to social media marketing companies.  These “experts” have been popping up with great frequency over the last few years.  Furthermore, all it seems to become an expert all you have to do is to say you are an expert.

Usually, when someone has to tell you they are nice person the exact opposite is true.  The same goes for many of these social media experts.  While they may have a good grasp on the technology involved with Facebook, Twitter, and the rest, do they have a proven track record on how companies market and advertise?  Have they worked with companies helping them to market and sell B-to-B and B-to-C?  What do they advise once they have set up your social media sites?

These are all questions one has to ask before engaging a consultant.  While social media seems to be the new trend, don’t get fooled into spending thousands of dollars with a company just because they know the technology.  Make sure they are adept at marketing and have a proven track record of growing their client’s businesses.  Make sure they can show results.

Seizo

Creating a great user experience for mobile apps

January 11, 2012 in Mobile, UI/UX

Creating a great user experience takes time and understanding not only how users are going to use your application, but also knowing the limitations of the target devices.  This is especially important when considering applications for mobile.

We now have many options for deployment.  Smart phones can have screens from 3.5″ to 4.6″.  Tablets range from 5″ to 10″, and then of course there are web and desktop versions.

In addition to the screen sizes developers and designers also need to understand how these devices are going to be used.  Will the app be used while the person is sitting, running, walking, laying in bed, in a meeting, at the dinner table?  Is it just for them, or should we consider other people participating?

Our goal, when when working with clients is to provide them or their customers with a great experience. This includes beautiful graphics, fluid appropriate animation, ease of use and more.  It should be easy to use and intuitive. They should be delighted.  This takes expertise, planning and brilliant execution.