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australian youtube logo doodle

Happy Australia Day!

Happy Australia Day 2011 to all the aussies who read my blog! Ernesto, 3DM and I worked hard to deliver the first YouTube custom logo for Australia ever and a custom video mapping gadget! The basic premise is that Australians can upload videos to YouTube and plot them on a map. This map then visually “fills in” to create essentially remap Australia in terms of summer memories. I am really looking forward to seeing how much momentum we can build off this one and it is great showcase for local creatives.

australian youtube logo doodle

Custom YouTube logo and gadget

Google also put up a custom doodle for today, which indirectly drives through to the YouTube channel too:

google doodle for australia day 2011

Google doodle for Australia Day 2011

Is it weird that I get a buzz from having input into the creation of these programs that re-craft some of the most recognised brands in the world? Must be my inner marketing geek showing through…

Save your tax dollars – cut your copper now!

As part of the Heads of Agreement that Telstra has signed with NBNCo, Telstra is being paid $11 billion taxpayer dollars. This amount is effectively the sum value of each and every customer they migrate off copper. As John Stanhope (Telstra CFO) states:

So as the customer is switched off and goes across to (NBNCo) fibre, we get a payment.

Copper lines are already being dropped at a massive 8% pa, but you can help accelerate this drop and save your taxpayer dollars as well as your own line rental costs in the process. Moving to VoIP over fibre, merging multiple lines into VoIP services and migrating to mobile phones will all help you save your hard earned tax dollars.

Admonsters Sydney Members Dinner

Admonsters held their first event in Australia this week, with a members dinner at the Waterfront restaurant in Sydney. The 3 course meal was very generously provided by aiMatch on a perfect summer’s night right next to the harbour.

The event was attended by around 25 people, which made for an intimate yet comprehensive representation of the major Australian advertising operations teams. Ninemsn, Carsales, REA Group, APN, CBS InteractiveYouTube, Google and number of niche publishers were represented. It was amazing how small the industry is (I had worked with at least 5 others previously) and yet how diverse our backgrounds were. There was some reflection on this topic, in particular what qualifications you need to get into Ad Operations, and therefore what you look for in new hires.

Other issues that went around the table included the continuing friction between digital and traditional media (both internally and in the market), the National Broadband Network and how it will accelerate this structural change and the amount of hand-holding that clients are still requiring.

Overall it was a great night which really helped build relationships across what is a very fragmented online media landscape in Australia. The discussion ended with a hope that there will be a larger Admonsters conference event in the APAC region next year!

Live Streaming on YouTube Australia

Tomorrow from 1-2pm YouTube Australia will be running their first live streaming event for the 2010 ICT ministers debate on the channel.

ICT policy is shaping up as one of the big issues of this election, which is great because ICT tends to take a back seat in Australian politics. The main issues are around the $43b National Broadband Network (NBN) project and the proposed Internet Filter. Each party has a different perspective on each of these major issues, which hopefully will make for an interesting debate. Regardless, I am proud to be helping to bring this first to Australia!

Edit: The debate ran successfully on YouTube Live! You can now see it here:

Burwood Festival 2009

My second festival for this Spring weekend was a bit closer to home, the Burwood Festival. It was held on Burwood Road and in Burwood Park. I remembered my camera this time, so here are some photos:

Burwood Festival tents

Burwood Festival Tents

Burwood Road closed for Burwood Festival

Burwood Road closed for Burwood Festival

Burwood Festival model boat show

Burwood Festival model boat show

Mustangs everywhere

Mustangs everywhere

...and plenty of Fiats

...and plenty of Fiats

Stalls and pavillion

Stalls and pavillion

Canberra Floriade 2009

View back across the main flower bed to the ferris wheel

View back across the main flower bed to the Ferris Wheel

Yesterday I visited Canberra Floriade 2009, an annual flower and gardening show in Canberra, Australia. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so I only have Blackberry Pearlphotos to share with you. The Floriade website is actually a really well designed site, and definitely a must see before you visit the show.

The main reason I went to the show was for landscaping ideas, I am currently designing how our backyard will be done. There were a few landscaped areas with different themes that were interesting, but generally the show was a lot smaller than I expected. I guess what is difficult for me to appreciate is the sheer volume and density of flowers. Once you realise that each tulip (and there would be several hundred thousand) planted is an individually purchased, planted and cultivated bulb you can start to understand the amount of effort that goes into the displays. The fact that the show (and parking!) is free is also amazing, especially for someone who comes from Sydney where literally nothing is free.

While I was in Canberra I also visited the War Memorial and the National Portrait Gallery. Both were great venues that I hadn’t visited since the days of school excursions. It was interesting to see the War Memorial is definitely keeping up with the times and has gone for the sensory type experiences. This is particularly true in the post-1945 conflicts area, as well as the Lancaster bomber raid reconstruction (my favourite). I think the War Memorial has struck a really good balance between solemn spaces (like the tomb of the Unknown Soldier) and engaging interactive displays. For people my age who have never directly experienced a war it is difficult to comprehend the warped realities of war based on aging photos and equipment under glass. For me it was strange seeing the names of towns I recognised being discussed, because I was recognising the town names from Band of Brothers and Call of Duty. I believe that information transfer is the most important thing, and if it takes these experiences to do that then so be it. I think the War Memorial is walking the line between entertainment and education very precisely, experiences and blogs are engaging and effective communication tools.

While on the way down to Canberra we stopped at Goulburn. We had coffee at The Roses Cafe, a very nice little cafe that would give the best cafes of Newtown a run for their money for quality and selection of food. There are some good photos of Goulburn and the cafe on this weird worm blog. I actually really enjoyed the architecture and authenticity of Goulburn as a gold rush era inland Australian town and would definitely recommend it as a stopping point on the road between Canberra and Sydney, it is a great insight into the problems with freeway bypasses and McDonald’s service centres.

Sydney Airport Tour

sydney_airport_tourSydney Airport is one of only two airports in the world that operate tours around the tarmac (the other is in San Diego, USA). I went on the Sydney Airport tour today, and you can get yourself on the next tour through their website.

The tour goes for a little over 2 hours and covers the vast majority of the airport. It is definitely a tour for aircraft nerds, with a ton of statistics and history being relayed by the very knowledgeable driver the entire time. I do think that even non-nerds would enjoy the close up look at an amazing facility that, these days, many dismiss as little more than a big bus stop.

The most interesting parts for me were the hangers with vehicles under maintenance (including the huge Qantas Airbus A380), seeing a Boeing 747 take off at close range and seeing how friendly all the airport employees are. The tower controllers roll up their blinds and wave, all the pilots wave, the ground crew all wave and even maintenance crew are happy to wave while sitting inside a jet engine. It sounds kind of lame, but you really do feel privileged to be part of a close airport community (even if it has 32,000 employees within it’s fences).

I can recommend the tour to anyone, I did it as a Father’s Day present and I think it was perfectly suited to that. They offer daytime and nighttime tours. I did the daytime and it is probably the nerdier of the two (less food, more time on the tarmac). Enjoy and comment! 🙂

MasterChef – Generation Y Best Practice Marketing

MasterChef LogoMasterChef has been a huge surprise hit in Australia. The TV ratings have been sensational for Channel 10, with an average of 1.96 million viewers nationally (not bad from a total audience pool of just over 20 million). What keeps this average so high? The key, ironically, is the stickiness created by the side dishes. The MasterChef website gets an equally, if not more, astonishing 2 million views per week.

This website content is what keeps people engaged. Full show episodes stream very quickly from the site not long after screening, letting you catch up if you have missed an episode or just feed your addiction. Every recipe on the show is uploaded and available for those at home to have a crack, and beautiful images are cycled past the viewer. The taunt of “Can you master this MasterClass dish?” next to a picture of a beautiful coffee eclair is a great teaser to engage those at home.

The engaged community that has been built can be confirmed on Twitter. There doesn’t seem to actually be an official MasterChef twitter account, but that hasn’t stopped loyal fans creating unoffical ones and swamping Twitter with comments about how hungry they are, which recipes they love and who they want to get kicked off. The episode finished over an hour ago, but tweets are still coming in faster than one per minute. I really hope someone is monitoring this community really closely, what a great way to get feedback on the franchise directly from your customers.

Even if they are not monitoring the Twitter community, they will at least be monitoring their public forums. Yet another nod to the importance of communities in building a loyal following behind a brand. Over 30,000 posts proves that people are enjoying it, and breaking down the forums by participant gives a great selection criteria for the next season’s contestants (rumoured to be celebrities). Finally, they also have a Digg-like rating system on each recipe, so again the community can feel engaged and contribute back to itself.

How do you then cash in on this community? The product integration with Coles is subtle yet very effective. Recipes have a cost from Coles listed below them, for example this tasty soup is a mere $3.50 per serve. The PDF that you print to take to the shops of course has a Coles logo in the top right corner, as well as any notes about whether Coles stocks the item or not. They could have even taken this to the nth degree by having “MasterChef Prefilled Shopping Carts” from Coles Online, what armchair chef doesn’t want the ingredients delivered straight to their house? Even better, you could pre-empt the episode and deliver the Mystery Box challenge ingredients on the night of the Mystery Box episode! Now that would be challenging our engaged community.

The only thing that Channel 10 have done wrong, is screen Biggest Loser USA directly after MasterChef on a Sunday night. Then again, for some reason Biggest Loser makes me hungry too… 🙂

Sydney Airport Noise

sydneyairport_city_bgSydney Airport (SYD) is one of the oldest continually operating airports in the world. This also means that the city of Sydney has slowly grown around the airport over the years, with many people now living directly under the flight path. This is particularly true for those in the inner west. When buying a home in this area it is important to do some research as to whether you will be affected by the flight paths. The weekend flight paths are often very different from those during the week. The street seems sleepy and quiet during the Saturday Open for Inspection, but during the week you might be able to feel the windows rattle as a 747 thunders in to land. The curfew from 11pm until 6am does help, however airlines are allowed to break the curfew (for a fee) and of course a curfew is not guaranteed to stand forever (especially now that Macquarie Bank owns the airport).

Sydney Airport Noise Contours - Q3 2008

Sydney Airport Noise Contours - Q3 2008

So what can you do? The first website you should visit is the Air Services Australia site, in particular their Noise Exposure Index Reports section. Attachment D is particularly interesting, the report provides noise contour charts that are overlaid on an abstract map of Sydney. The various coloured lines and shading show the regions exposure to aircraft noise. The noise contours for July-September 2008 are shown to the right. The rest of the report is also interesting, as it shows changes in noise and movements over time, notes reasons for some of the changes (i.e. the east west runway currently being closed due to a safety upgrade) and the types of planes.

Some of the councils affected by aircraft noise also have noise exposure reports on their websites (although they are often difficult to find). For example Marrickville Council provides a Australian Noise Exposure Forecast 2023/2024 (ANEF) Map. This provides forecasted noise exposure information to those people looking to live in or around the Marrickville region. This means you can not only see what the noise levels are like currently, but also predict whether you will be affected in the future. With constant delays and indecision still preventing the construction of the second Sydney Airport, it seems wise to plan for aircraft noise being a staple of Sydney for a long time to come.

First Home Buyers Grant

The NSW Government introduced the First Home Buyer’s Grant Scheme back in the year 2000. The $7000 cash bonus is nice, but it is the stamp duty concession that really helps out. The stamp duty calculator shows that the duty on a $500k home drops from $18,170 to a tiny $180 if you are a first home buyer, a huge saving of $17,990. This saving deteriorates pro-rata however as the price of the home approaches $600k, at which point it becomes unavailable. Means testing by this method is all well and good, as long as the means test is indexed. Back in 2000 property prices were significantly lower than they are today, as shown by the Reserve Bank’s own property price index graph from the May 2008 Regional Economic Performance Report:

Graph of Australian House Prices 2000 to 2008

This graph clearly shows that property prices have at least doubled in every state in the last 8 years, the same time period the grant scheme has been running. For 8 years of rapid growth the threshold has remained unchanged. NSW is actually the worst state for this, with an Age article citing:

Mortgage repayments account for 29.1% of total first home-buyer income, a one percentage point increase over the December (2007) quarter.

Adding to the cost of housing are taxes and charges, which added $110,000-$115,000 to the typical house and land package in Sydney, Mr Lamont said. In Victoria, that figure is about $57,000.

Surely the NSW Government should be keeping more of a finger on the pulse rather than making huge profits from Stamp Duty. The Federal Government is a little closer with their savings accounts, but $5000 a year is not going to get you a decent deposit anytime soon.

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