McDonald’s Australia – User Generated Film


McDonald’s Australia recently launched  an aggressive user generated content play, putting their fans in the directors chair to create a crowd sourced short-film about fries!  The community gets to  direct key elements of the story arc which McDonald’s then goes out and films. The series will culminate in a mini-blockbuster which may be the world’s largest crowd-directed short-film

New episodes in the series are released every few days. Details and episodes so far can be seen at :

McDonald’s is always great at branding:  Whenever my 3 year olds sees the Golden Arches she screams “M is for French Fries”.

KitKat: Take a Break with the World’s First Massaging Billboard

KitKat launched an awesome out of home advertising campaign in Colombia that aligns really well with their tagline “Take a Break”.  The company setup billboards that invited people to take a break by leaning on them for a massage.

In addition to the the natural foot traffic at the transit shelters where they installed their billboards, KitKat also leveraged Twitter to generate awareness and engagement: People tweeting with keywords that showed they were stressed or needed a break were replied to with the location of their massaging billboards.

Overall it’s an elegant way to engage the public while giving people a tangible benefit for interacting with the brand.

Target’s Haunted House – 360° Degree Video

Target may have failed in Canada but they are putting their creative hats on down south in the US for Halloween.  Their “Epic 360° Halloween Adventure” powered by YouTube allows users to navigate the rooms of a haunted mansion in an immersive manner.  The rooms of the haunted house are decorated with items that are available at Target.

Users can explore the rooms as 360° video on mobile, tablet and desktop and can stop to shop for the items in the room at the click of a button.

Disney: Augmented Reality Coloring Books

As the father of two beautiful girls under five, my home is a storehouse of coloring books, crayons, markers, paint brushes and colorful creations from the little ones.

I was really excited to see the augmented reality coloring book application prototype that Disney recently demoed:  Children color a special sheet and the mobile app translates the image into a real-time 3D model of the picture your child is coloring.

When this launches I am going to be the first to pick up the coloring book and gift it to my kids!

Letting your kids use YouTube just got Safer with their new app.

Google has  hit it out of the park with a brand new YouTube app, specifically designed for young children. It’s called YouTube Kids, and it was designed especially your 3-6 year olds. While it may be designed for young children, it is also really fun for us who are young at heart!

As a father of two young daughters, I like that Google is trying to prevent young eyes from accidentally seeing videos on the Internet that were never intended for them to see.  If you are in Canada, you can access the app when you are on a US IP via VPN or using a tool like HotSpotShield.

Design and Use

The app, which is pre-filled with access to family friendly content, is just fun to use. It is colorful, and filled with music and sound effects. Your kids can choose from 4 main categories and the ability to search.

Shows: Your kids can watch fun video shows including the Sesame Street Channel and Thomas & Friends Channel.

Music: Here, you will find music channels that lead to hundreds of kid-friendly songs and hours of fun. This is bound to be the favorite section for many toddlers who can sit through every iteration of “Wheels on the bus” that YouTube can serve them and still be excited.

Learning: With PBS Kids and Khan Academy, your kids can really learn while using the app on a tablet or phone.

Explore: Here is where you kids can use their creativity with channels like Play-Doh and Simple Kids Crafts.

Search: You can help your kids search by typing in search words. Google has even added the ability to search by voice.

Parental Controls

YouTube Kids has some well thought out parental controls. There is a timer, a way to leave feedback, and the capability to turn off the music and sound effects. In addition, there is a way to disable searching, so that only the content on the app will be viewed.

YouTube Kids is available now on Google Play and the App Store.  (The app is currently only available in the US and set to roll out to the rest of the world over time.)

Facebook Goes Directly after Google with Product Ads

Facebook recently announced that it will begin placing Product Ads on its users’ news feeds that will allow brands to display multiple items within a single advertisement. Many are calling the Facebook launch a direct effort to take hold of the enormous retail advertising market that Google currently has a stronghold on. Google’s Shopping Ads is a business unit that is estimated to take in $8 billion a year.

With Facebook’s new Product Ads launch, they attempt to deliver a better return on investment for online retailers than Google can offer. The wealth of customer data that Facebook has will allow the company to target their customers better than Google can. Facebook also has a more established mobile product that can effectively target consumers across devices. This is important since mobile transactions are likely to account for as much as half of all digital commerce transactions by 2017.

With Product Ads, businesses populate their advertisements on Facebook by uploading their product catalogs. They can either create their own campaigns, or let Facebook automatically choose which products are most relevant to certain users. Facebook can target people who have visited a company’s website or target people based on factors like location or special interests. This will save time and money for advertisers who will no longer have to create specific campaigns for specific audiences.

The proliferation of social commerce cannot be denied. Shopify stats show that product research and discovery that took place on social channels propelled e-commerce orders to increase by over 200% in 2014. Facebook dominates the social commerce landscape, with over 90% of advertisers planning on spending part of their social marketing budget on the site.

It’s not clear if Facebook’s Product Ads will  lead to a tremendous return on investment. Most consumers want to compare products across multiple stores, and they will leave the Facebook application to do so. The Product Ads launch does nothing special to keep shoppers on the Facebook app. Consumers will likely only use Facebook for impulsive shopping purchases, so the Product Ads launch may have the most appeal for retailers who sell impulse-buy products. Businesses will need to test the waters by dedicating a small portion of their advertising budgets to Facebook’s Product Ads and determine ROI vs. other channels in comparative testing but by ensuring they have an attribution model that can track back sales up to 90 days from the impression or click of an ad.

Having a Mobile Site Just Became Critical for SEO on Google


With Google’s latest algorithm updates, it is becoming  essential for businesses to have mobile websites. This is something that is necessary if you want to be able to reach as large an audience as possible. More and more people are using mobile devices to access information. Google has responded to this situation by making it easier for search engine users to locate web pages that are mobile friendly.

Google has recently announced that, starting April 21, 2015, it will be making mobile-friendliness a more important ranking signal. This will apply to mobile searches globally and in all languages.

This means that website owners who are seeking to maintain a good ranking will have to make sure their site is optimized for mobile devices. Google provides a Mobile-Friendly Test to make it easy to test this. The search engine also provides Mobile Usability Reports, which can be found under Webmaster Tools in Google Analytics.

Another major shift on April 21 has to do with Google implementing app indexing. This means that information from indexed apps will become increasingly prominent in search results. This reflects the fast growing popularity of mobile apps. Webmasters who create apps for their users should therefore learn as much as possible about app indexing. This will make information about apps available to search engine users.

What does this mean for your business?  If you already have a mobile friendly or responsive site you may move up in the rankings. If you do not have a mobile site you may be in trouble.  For example,  a dealership that may currently rank well for a keyword phrase like “used cars toronto” may find their traffic plummeting as they drop from the  first and second page search results and are replaced by competitors who have a mobile site. April 21 is still 6 weeks away so there is still time to connect with your developer and fast track getting a mobile version of your site up and running.