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Key trends at #E3 2015 Day Zero

Dave Goodfellow, all round good guy and Social and Digital Lead at Prohibition partner agency, Rinsed, is on the ground in LA at video gaming mega-conference, E3. He’s posting regular updates for Rinsed on the key trends and goings-on at the show, and we’re sharing the best bits right here. Check out his thoughts on Day 0.

A lot has happened in the last 24 hours. We’ve seen keynotes from Xbox, EA, Ubisoft and Playstation, as well as Bethesda who ran their first ever showcase the night before. Every year, there are common themes that pop out from  and this year there seems to be 3: Nostalgia, Virtual Reality and simplicity.

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Nostalgia

This year we’re seeing LOTS of remakes and revivals – far more than we have at previous E3s. This includes Rare Replay (which includes more than 30 games), Gears of War [Ultimate Edition for Xbox One], Final Fantasy VII remake on PS4, Shenmue on PS4, the announcement of backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games on Xbox one and lots more.

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There seems to be a result of two main factors. First, the teething phase of Next-Gen consoles seems to be over, and now that developers are familiar with the platforms they’re more ready, willing and able to bring their legacy forward – this is illustrated in the difference between what Square Enix presented last year for Final Fantasy VII compared to this year.

Second, is that there are two key active markets that nostalgia appeals to. Old school players who remember playing these games 20 odd years ago will jump at the chance to play updated versions of the games they loved. Also, the children of these players and other younger players who weren’t born when they were originally released. This gives younger players to experience modern interpretations of classic games that defined the genre.

Virtual Reality

We’re seeing very different plays from Microsoft and Sony here. Microsoft has partnered with Oculus (announced last week) and now also Valve VR (announced today). This means that each are betting on a different success strategy.

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Microsoft’s decision to outreach to Oculus and Valve VR developer communities, rather than just looking in its own Xbox and windows developer communities is an interesting move. It’s likely to capitalize on the flourishing dev community and existing assets that exist there, and by focusing on first party hardware sony will produce a very different result. We’ll have to wait and see which is the better bet.

K.I.S.S.

The experience of being an attendee this year has been very simple – which is great. Last year we saw a lot of new elements introduced into the attendee experience, like L.E.D. Bands and other interactive elements.  This year, Xbox was the only major platform to do so and publishers really just focused on the content. This kind of speaks to a less is more philosophy mentality and works great.

Playstation is where the big difference in attendee experience is. Their pre-show was amazing, and very different compared to the other keynote/briefing events. Where all the other keynotes ran lines and allowed people to wait around before heading in to get their seat, Playstation had what felt like a festival outside their briefing pre-show. There was lots of food, bars, and tables for people to enjoy and socialise. This changed the attendee dynamic a lot and made people a lot more excited about being there and sharing their experience with all the other attendees.

 

 

The Prohibition Seven Days of Social

3256859352_cf35412c5f_zFast moving, always adapting and often controversial, social media is an area where many of us have divided opinions. We like to keep our ear to the ground in the social media world, and as the week comes to an end, we’ve put together a few of our favourite pieces of social media content from around the web that you might not have spotted.

 

  1. “Can we auto correct humanity?”
    by Prince Ea (@PrinceEa)
    By far the biggest hitting and most shared piece of social media content of this week (over three million YouTube views) saw musician and rapper Prince Ea take to the camera in a thought provoking video, assessing how social media and modern technologies are leaving us less connected with our ‘friends’ than ever before.
  1. “ I didn’t actually wake up like this (and other Instagram confessions)
    by Amelia Olson
    We’re dubbed the ‘selfie generation’, but are the self facing snaps just an expression of vanity? In this article, Amelia Olson argues that selfies are not a self-obsessed or narcissistic expression, but that Instagram and other social media platforms that allow us to adjust our appearance through brightening effects and filters only contribute to our appearance insecurities. As does the marketing of makeup brands to encourage the public to look ‘photo/TV ready’.
  1. Fortune’s 55 most influential women on Twitter”
    by Caroline Fairchild (@CFair1)
    Social media is a powerful tool, especially for influencers, and with Twitter being the network of choice for some of the most powerful leaders in government, business and industry throughout the world, maintaining a strong Twitter presence has never been more important. If you’re looking for key female influencers to follow on the network, this is Fortune’s definitive guide to the 55 most influential women on Twitter
  1. “23 Tools and Resources to Create Images for Social Media”
    by Kevan Lee (@kevanlee)
    Social Media is all about engagement, especially when it comes to managing a community for a brand or business. Sharing interesting and engaging graphics is proven, especially on Facebook, to drive reach and increase your audience. However, the success of a post often depends on the make-up and design of an image. This week, our fourth piece of social media content provides one of the most the definitive guides available when it comes to social media image resources.
  1. Teens are officially over Facebook
    by Caitlin Dewey (@caitlindewey)
    We all know the Facebook story, created in a university dorm room, coming from nowhere to take the social media mantel from MySpace and within ten years, it’s arguably the most renowned business in the world. We all love to forecast the future of the most prevalent social network, and in this article, the Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey looks into the trend for teenagers to stray from the site, in search of more engaging content, from the likes of (Facebook owned) Instagram.
  1. 5 Ways to Use Metrics to Improve Your Social Media Marketing
    by Debra Eckerling (@WriteOnOnline)
    Gone are the days when a brand’s social media absence could be glossed over. In the modern, online age, it’s expected that a reputable brand will possess an engaging online presence. With social media marketing being as important as ever, and most if not all brands now taking on newer and more innovative social accounts, it’s important to keep track of those important metrics that showcase just how effective your presence online is.
  1. YouAreWhatYouLike: Find out what algorithms can tell about you based on your Facebook account.
    by Jennifer Golbeck (@jengolbeck)
    Social media users now number more than 1.4 billion—more than half of the Earth’s Internet-using population. We share a lot of information on social media, but it turns out we are sharing far more than we think. Seemingly innocuous information, when analyzed against tens of thousands of other profiles, can reveal secrets you never intended to share.

 

Photocredit: CC image from Rosaura Ochoa via flickr.

How mobile is paving the way for social media developments

Worldwide mobile phone sales are on fire. Currently, over one billion mobile web users are scrolling through the 1-4G universes, and their massive influence over social networks is becoming increasingly more apparent. If you’re after a good example, look no further than the new Facebook new Messenger app and how hard they’re pushing it on consumers, or how popular the Vine app is among brands for creating simple, snappy video content.

4183229960_edcbb4dd6bSo what does this mean for the PR industry? It means get mobile, quick. Communities online are only going to get more connected via mobile apps such as Snapchat and Jelly, so focusing purely on digital PR that fits computer monitors is no longer the’ be all and end all’, as it’s just no longer enough.

Assessing mobile habits is a good start. Knowing which apps are popular and what makes them so in demand can be done through a quick browse of the Apple App Store or Google Play Store; once you’re aware you can begin applying this to your own strategies on social media, such as what type of content to use for your brand in terms of video, visual, interactive and when to upload it.

It’s also wise to be aware of which apps are useful to use to your advantage for your respective communities, whether they will have a maximum outreach and generate leads and whether it’s worth having a presence on them at all.

Thanks to its global appeal, it’s likely that smartphone use will keep growing in the near future, so keeping an eye out for the latest developments is a must for any PR professional.

Now, go back to checking Facebook on your smartphone.

Photo Credit: 27147 via Compfight cc

The Fuelband: Better to be a part of Apple’s pie?

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After a flurry of reports from the technology and mainstream press over the weekend pointed towards Nike discontinuing its flagship wearable technology, the Fuelband, is it a sign that Apple will dominate the growing wearable market as much as it has the smartphone market?
Whilst the Fuelband hardware is looking set for the chop, the software looks ready to jump onboard the rumoured ‘iWatch’, Apple’s presumed entrant in to the wearable market. The market is already being explored by tech giants Samsung and Google, but Apple’s entry would be a definite turning point as it would tap in to the company’s huge user base and possibly bring about the introduction of wearables to the mass market, and not just the early adopters.

Nike and Apple certainly aren’t strangers to one another, and it therefore wouldn’t come as a surprise if a collaboration were to take place between the two in the future. With Apple reportedly continuing to plan an iOS 8 fitness-focused update, exclusive software from one of the globe’s most prolific sports brands would presumably be a real knockout strategy for both companies.

Where does this leave everyone else though? As previously mentioned, the wearables market is being sized up by plenty of technology leaders, and some have already put their hat in the ring. This leaves Apple at a disadvantage – it was a pioneer in modern smartphone technology, whereas it’s a latecomer in wearable technology.

With all this in mind, we may see a new technology that Apple doesn’t manage quite to get a hold of. It wouldn’t be the first time; remember Apple TV?

The gamification of technology and media has made for an exciting arena when it comes to start-ups, marketers and businesses of all kinds. Possibilities and opportunities are boundless, and the engaging, interactive nature of entertainment has shaped how media is consumed indefinitely. Wearable technology might just be the next step, so seeing how the giants of the industry tackle it will be fascinating.
Photo Credit: jfingas via Compfight cc

Leeds: Creative Agencies in abundance

The creative and digital sector is broad in definition but is nonetheless an important and thriving component of the UK economy. This sector covers areas such as media, computer services and marketing, with the common feature between them being technology and a flair for creativity. A 2008 study showed that the GVA (Gross value added) of the creative and digital sector was £59.1 billion, which equated to 5.6% of the GVA for the entire country. This is a measure of the value of goods/ services produced by an industry, area or country. Leeds City

West Yorkshire has developed into one of the leading business regions in the country with Leeds in particular going from strength to strength. Its GVA contribution as a city is £1.5 billion, but it is the creative and digital sector which has really shone in recent years. The industry has seen considerable growth over the last decade with advertising and architecture in particular seeing the most improvement.

Leeds is now the largest new media city outside of London with only Birmingham being on par. Its growing reputation and valuable network means that it is one of the prime locations for new businesses, while its recent growth could also have been attributed to its proximity to the Media City in Salford which sits a mere 40miles away.

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Creative Leeds group, there are nearly 3,400 creative firms in and around Leeds. Creative and digital businesses in Leeds make up for over 50% of those in West Yorkshire and around 35% within Leeds city centre itself. Despite the large number of businesses, around 70% are considered to be ‘micro firms’, meaning that they employ 10 people or less. In fact, a 2005 study showed there were 2000 self employed people within this sector. These figures reinforce the notion that this industry is prime for entrepreneurs and tends to be start up focused. Taking a wider look at the sector we find that there are over 30,000 people employed in creative firms throughout the city. However, there has been a decline in employment in this area with an overall fall of around 11% since 2008. The areas to be hit most are TV, video, advertising and radio which have seen a slump of 30%.

Prohibition PR is one of the companies that have recognised this growth in the digital and creative sector, both regionally and nationally, and has based its business plan around this trend. Prohibition PR is a company which focuses mainly in online PR and marketing and aims to strengthen its clients presence in an ever evolving digital and social media market. It stands out as one of the leading PR firms in the region and can boast such clients as Audio-Technica, Park Lane Properties and Keepmoat Homes. Managing director Chris Norton, is an award winning PR practitioner and his blog is listed amongst the top 100 marketing blogs in the world.

Some of the other prominent Yorkshire firms in this sector includes Numiko. It is a digital communications agency that creates campaigns and internet applications, whose clients have included the BBC, the NSPCC and Channel 4. They currently employ 24 people and this puts it into the minority of businesses, i.e. the 30% who are not classed as a ‘micro business’.  In 2011 the company had a turnover of £1.5 million and has gone on to win numerous of awards. In May of this year, their multi-platform project, ‘Foxe’s Live: Wild in the City’, won the award of best website at the Rev awards 2013. This project, which collaborates with Windfall Films and Channel 4, also won the award for Best Mashup and Data Visualisation at the BIMA awards in 2012. Some of the other leading businesses in the city include DS.Emotion, which is a marketing and digital specialist and Elmwood which specialises in brand design. Elmwood recently made some redundancies but insists it is still growing ahead of the market. They have also recently appointed a new chief executive in David Godber.

The biggest trade association for this sector is the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA). BIMA try and support and promote the British digital industry as well as sharing knowledge and communicating with other bodies. Other associations include Pact, NESTA and Chinwag.  As for recruitment, Orchard is the largest Digital, Creative and Marketing recruitment consultancy in the north of the country. Leeds Metropolitan University are also helping the industry as their new technology institute is offering 90% discounted courses to help train creative and digital micro businesses.

The sector in Leeds has been given a further boost with plans for a £90 million investment to create a digital centre in Westgate being approved by Leeds City Council. It is thought that the renovation of a grade 2 listed building into a creative and digital workspace, with a high spec infrastructure, will create 40 jobs in the next year and a further 300 jobs in the Leeds city region by the year 2026. It is also predicted that it will create an additional £95 million GVA in that period.

It is clear to see the importance of the creative and digital sector, not only for the national economy, but also for the success of a region or city. It is anticipated that the sector will continue to develop in Leeds with a 6% growth expected in the next 5 years, consolidating the city’s position as one of the UK’s key creative hubs and the largest media city in the north of the country.

Image credit to Tom Blackwell.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR AND AVOID CLOUD OUTAGES

In October, Amazon Web Services suffered an outage on the East Coast of America resulting in a number of websites going down. Amazon offers companies the opportunity to host enterprise applications and big data projects in the cloud and supports sites such as Reddit, Airbnb and Flipboard – all of which were affected by the outages.

Initially a group of hackers known as ‘Anonymous’ claimed that they had caused the outage saying on Twitter, “I’m attacking Amazon for about 4 hours but just posted now I had to have sure it was all down.” However, Amazon denied the claims.

In a blog post Amazon said, “At 10:00AM PDT Monday, a small number of Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) volumes in one of our five Availability Zones in the US-East Region began seeing degraded performance, and in some cases, became “stuck” (i.e. unable to process further I/O requests). The root cause of the problem was a latent bug in an operational data collection agent that runs on the EBS storage servers.”

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Google has suffered similar issues, with users being unable to reach many, if any at all, of Google’s services for six minutes. They declined to comment beyond an apology but Wired said: “Google declined to discuss the matter further. But this massive outage — however brief — shows how tenuous our “digital lives” can be and how much we’re dependent on Google in particular. Google has gone to extreme lengths to minimize outages. But it too is fallible, and clearly, multiple services can go down in the event of an engineering mistake, technical malfunction, or natural disaster.”

So if two companies the size of Amazon Web Services and Google can suffer from outages, then it should make companies think about how important minimising outages is. Here are a few tips to protect your company:

1. George Crump of Information Week says that by using an Onramp solution, companies can adopt a cloud mirroring policy, meaning that data would be written to two cloud providers simultaneously. Although this may seem over cautious, it would mean that if one cloud provider were to suffer an outage, then your data would be safe with another provider, with the chances of two providers being struck at the same time being incredibly low.

2. You should never assume that someone is protecting you from an outage. Backing data up may not seem like the most technical idea but it is effective. Whether you take care of it yourself or you make an arrangement with your provider, having backup data ensures that when an outage does occur that your business is not left in the lurch.

3. Make sure that your service level agreement highlights the consequences of a loss of service. It is important to keep some of the application or data available if and when there is a disruption to service. Crystal Nichols of Unitiv Blog says, “Define an acceptable level of availability for the given cloud application. For example, if you’re relying on a cloud provider to give you disaster recovery services, you might require 99.999% availability.”

4. Consider what the risks of moving to the cloud are. If you are not prepared to risk losing availability due to an outage then the cloud may not be for you. Although the cloud can no longer be considered a fad it doesn’t mean that every organisation should look to migrate. Crystal Nichols says, “It’s not that cloud solutions can’t meet your needs; you just need to go in with eyes wide open and be ready to accept the associated risks.”