Thursday, December 22, 2011

10 things Fiona likes most about Google+

Since Google+ launched for brands and businesses in November 2011 I have enjoyed thinking about ways we could incorporate Google+ into integrated digital marketing strategies and build a brand presence for our clients. Here are a few things, listed in no particular order, that I like about Google+:

  1. Hangouts are great for product demos and launches, group chats, document screen sharing and music promotion.

  2. Google is socialising all its services including search which is why Google+ content shows up in the search results, so great for increasing your search engine presence (Search Engine Optimisation).

  3. Linking all the Google products like YouTube and Blogger in one Google Account. The new Gmail interface integrates with and even looks similar to Google+.

  4. Optimised Google Places and My Places location maps, with a special offer and the new map snippets for sharing directions. Images can be geo tagged and found on Google Earth.

  5. Customisable widgets, RSS feed, social share badges making real time updating relevant.

  6. Allows animated gifs as well as static images in profile, which integrate with Picasa photo management service.

  7. The chance to be an influencer and to find influencers in a certain field using the Ripples interactive diagram.

  8. Great search ability of Google+ accounts, Google Direct Connect, lots of lists of profiles, categories and content related searches to find people of interest.

  9. Linking Ads with +1 recommendations and being able to +1 images that I like.

  10. Google+ bringing in location deals and mobile check-ins, which are great for in store promotions linked to Google Maps.

I don’t play games, as I am usually at a live music event but if I did, Google+ has those too.

If you want to find out more about Google+ and how it can benefit your business, please do go back and visit by November Blog, Creating a Google+ Page for your business. Alternatively give our sales team a call, they will be happy to discuss how we can help you further with digital strategy planning.

Author: Fiona Anderson

Monday, December 12, 2011

Geek Video of the Month

Dear Santa,

For Christmas, I would like an EXOdesk to replace my office desk at work, thanks.

Unfortunately though, it might have to wait until next year, as the video above is currently only a prototype. Built by the Canadian software company, EXOPC, their interactive desk is a tabletop computer, allowing you to manipulate objects by touch and dragging across the surface. If you’re interested in checking out more innovations about the ExoDesk, take a look over at their official development blog, EXOPC Lab.

The release date is set rather vaguely for 2012, with a rather heady price tag of $1,299. Whilst that might seem like a lot, it’s under ¼ of the price of Microsoft’s equivalent of the interactive desk, so if you’re dead set on your desk of the future, it might be something to keep an eye on!

Author: Alice Cheetham

Friday, December 02, 2011

EBay's new approach to Christmas shopping

eBay's new approach to Christmas shoppingTo celebrate the Christmas season, eBay is opening their first ever UK store, though it’s not quite shopping as we know it...

Their temporary boutique opened yesterday, as scheduled, in London’s West End for just 5 days, allowing shoppers to browse their potential purchases before splashing out online. This is by no means eBay’s first foray into expanding from their online auctions; why not check out our previous article on their augmented reality app from earlier this year.

The shopping emporium works by making use of QR, or Quick Response codes. If you’re interested in learning more about QR codes and how they work, check out our previous post here. Customers can wander around the store and browse to their hearts content, purchases can then be made using a smartphone (or any other connected device that can read QR codes).

"Shoppers simply scan the QR code with their smartphone to make their loved ones’ Christmas wishes come true – no tills, no queues, no bags, no stress. Using your mobile phone, you can literally complete your shopping in a matter of clicks," claims eBay’s spokesperson.

Experts expect approximately 5.8 million shoppers to log on during the five day sales, with sales peaking at 30 gifts per second, almost double during the same period of 2010. EBay say they are expecting around 120 gifts to be purchased every minute via smartphone.

If you’re interested in learning more about how your business can take advantage of smartphone technology, or want to know how you can promote yourself over the festive period, why not get in contact with Rocktime and talk to our Sales team about the opportunities avaliable

Author: Alice Cheetham

Friday, November 25, 2011

Creating a Google+ Page for your business

Earlier this week we talked about what benefits a Google+ page can bring to brands and businesses today we’re talking about the basics of setting up your own Google Plus business page.

Creating your own Google+ page is quite straight forward but would benefit from a bit of strategy about how your business wants to use the network. To start, simply log into your Google account or create a new account if you haven’t already got one for your business. Please remember to ONLY HAVE ONE Google Account for ALL your Google Products. Next, navigate to your +You profile page. On the right hand side there will be a box with the topic “Create Google+ Pages” click the “Create Google+ Page” which will take you straight to the sign up page.

Whilst configuring your business Google+ page, you can set it to be invisible to others, so they can’t see your edits.

When making your Google+ page, it is important that you select an appropriate category and fill in as many details as possible; add links, images, choose an appropriate title and when you’re happy with the appearance and functionality of your page, go ahead and make it public. To access and manage this new page you will toggle between the profile and the page.

Remember the Flashlight Search Marketing team can set this up for you, if you haven’t got the in house resource to complete and optimise your Google+ page.

If you’re hunting for ideas for your business Google+ page, why not take a look at some of these already established brands, such as H&M, Pepsi or X Games.

Once you’ve put together your page, please find a selection of opportunities to develop your Google+ page and some pointers to be aware of as aof25th November 2011. Google+ will be evolving and refining the network with new features and tools over the coming months.
Opportunities to develop your Google+ page

Flashlight can offer lots of useful page optimisation tips on how to use configuration tools for developers and linking your Google+ page and your website in webmaster tools.

We recommend:
  • Connecting your accounts from other services
  • Creating video for your news feed because videos are weighted more heavily that other types of content
  • Learning how to build campaigns on Google+ differently to the Facebook and twitter channels
  • Making use of the feature introduced on 2 November 2011 that allows you to +1 a photo
  • Adding a reciprocal social share badge link back from your Google+ page to the main page of your website.
  • Selecting tabs to display to your visitors
  • Reviewing how your profile appears to different people
  • Checking out how linked sites are eligible for Google Direct Connect
  • Utilising the feature of +1’s being shown with your brand page and search ads
  • Considering a future best practice strategy for linking the Google+ page to an Adwords campaign

Limitations and things to remember

  1. Ability to link page to Adwords Campaign not yet implemented.
  2. Google+ will not allow brands to run promotions or competitions directly on the social network - although you are allowed to display a link leading to a separate site where a promotion is being hosted.
  3. Need a maximum 10 participants to hold a hangout.
  4. There's a 90 minute check-in to make sure you're still there.
  5. Can’t rename photo albums once created.
  6. Does not have the ability to create multiple administrators to a page.
  7. Unlike some other Google webservices, Google Analytics is not currently integrated completely with G+, however referrals will appear from
  8. Does not have the ability to customise the URL / no vanity URL yet.
  9. You aren't able to see a complete list of the people included in your extended circles; it's a collection of people that's frequently changing.
  10. If a given page isn't in the circles selected to be displayed on your profile, that page won't be able to display your profile as among those who are following it.
  11. A page admin cannot add people to the page’s Circles unless that person has already added the brand to their Circle
  12. Use a clean URL when you add your content to Google+. Google+ hasn't been translating URL shorteners well, so our tip is use a link from the source.
  13. Instant Upload is only available for Android devices (2.1+) with the Google+ app installed.
  14. Google is not including the +1 button on mobile search results at this time. However, users may be able to see any +1 buttons they have added to web pages.

We have already set up a number of optimised Google+ brand pages for our clients, if you would like the Flashlight Search Marketing Team to developme a strategy or set up a Google Plus page for you, or if you’re interested in learning more about how your business can establish/improve their online presence, please call the Rocktime Sales team on 01202 678777, or use our contact us form to set up a meeting to discuss how we can assist.

Author: Fiona Anderson & Alice Cheetham

Monday, November 21, 2011

Google+ for Businesses and Brands

As we're pretty big fans of Google, it's no suprise we’ve talked about Google+ and how it squares up before, and now we're back there again!

This month finally sees the release of Google+ for businesses, so now we’ll be taking a look at what Google+ has to offer you as a business, or brand owner.

The Google+ strap line is ‘Real-life sharing, rethought for the web’ and refers to G+ as a social networking and identity service. Summarised it is a tool to help businesses communicate; ‘you share, they recommend, you both connect’ in short and it will make a difference to businesses that already use Google Products and that have embraced communicating and listening to audiences .

Google+ has a number of tools and features on offer.

  • Google Circles allows you to organize friends and acquaintances according to real life social connections, great for customisable list building and communications.
  • Extended Circles allows you to share content with those who are one degree removed from yourself.
  • The Stream allows you to see posts in real time of particular Circles, and any comments made will be visible to all Circle members.
  • Group and Video Hangouts allow you to hold video meetings, seminars or conferences with followers and fans without the need for additional software or websites.
  • Google+ also integrates smoothly with mobile and has its own app for Android phones; there is also a messenger function, games and profile verification.
  • Links can be added under the category of either recommended links, other profiles (web pages about yourself) or contributor to (sites you have written for), there is also, of course, the +1 Badge, which we’ve also talked about previously.

It is worth noting that +1’s will be shown with your brand page and search ads. A +1’d page shows prominently in the search results, with a trusted face attached called ‘authorship on search results’; an endorsement by people recommending your product or service.

Perhaps one of the most interesting features (exclusive to) Google+ is Ripples. Google+ Ripple is an interactive diagram that shows how a Google+ post spreads as it’s shared by users and you can look at this information for any public post on Google+.

So why is this useful for a business? Well, you can see an overview of who the top sharers of your content are, how the posts spread, what languages the sharers use, as well as the timelines and a detailed view of sharing within different circles.

Google+ Ripples
Not only does this make it incredibly easy to measure the impact of any campaign or content, but because all Ripples are totally transparent, you can look at an end goal and, to some degree, engineer your own Ripples.
For example if you see an influencer you want to get content too, by looking at who’s content they’ve shared themselves (and so on) you can work back through the Ripples to see what users you need to target content at, so that it might ultimately be shared by your influencer.

Let’s have a basic rundown of the benefits;
  1. Brand building

  2. Full integration with other Google owned products, such as YouTube, and Google cloud services, such as Picasa or Blogger.

  3. An attractive prospect to marketers; integration of Google+ searches within Google.

  4. Well designed user interface

  5. Real time updating

  6. No character limit (i.e. 140 characters on Twitter)

  7. Multi-media rich

  8. You can use Hootsuite to manage Google+

  9. Approximately 40m early adopter members, which represents just a fraction of the overall Google users, so a huge potential user base.

  10. Your Google+ page will rank higher then Facebook in Google searches for your brand name.

  11. Profiles can be optimised with meta and anchor text

  12. Ultimately, tracking traffic and conversion rates from your Google+ page will be easier, although Google Analytics and G+ are not currently connected; it’s definitely in the pipeline.

  13. For Local Businesses, a corporate brand page can be set up, then different Google+ pages for each local business.

  14. Google+ is content driven and can be used to share highly focused content that will track well in niche searches, Google+ brand pages could be used as landing pages in their own right.

  15. If you type ‘+’ into the Google bar followed by the brand name, its page will come up in the search drop down

  16. Social share badges to link your Google+ page and your website

Flashlight has already outlined strategic use of Google+ for clients. It is worth noting that ‘Google+ is not Facebook’. It is certainly more about doing business with likeminded people in your network; and as such, a business would benefit from outlining how a Google+ page will benefit them specifically, what type of content would naturally be of interest to their network and what tone of voice to use.

Google Fresh, the latest ‘Google Update’ is all about trust and authority and it encourages businesses to follow the good practice ‘business conversation and content guidelines’ outlined by Google and in return, Google returns these businesses high in the search results.

Google+, used appropriately, in conjunction with a good website, will improve a business’s chance of being found in a Google search. Google dominates the UK search engine market with a 90.59% share of the market.

If you’re interested to learn more about Google services and networks of interaction, and how the above can benefit your business, why not get in contact with the Flashlight team and see how they can give your business or brand a helping hand.

If you are reading this out of office hours, please use the contact Flashlight form and we will get back to you to discuss how Google+ can form part of your overall channel optimisation and campaign marketing strategy.

Check out the Rocktime Social blog later this month for a quick overview on the ins and outs of Google+ for businesses, and what to be aware of.

Author: Fiona Anderson & Alice Cheetham

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Geek Video of the Month

Spotted by our Technical Director, Kieron, this month we’re checking out some seriously ‘cool’ science!

With video courtesy of the Association of Science–Technology Centres, physicists from Tel-Aviv University have put together this fantastic demo of the phenomena of quantum trapping and quantum levitation.

Because of the way superconductors and magnetic fields interact, the cooled superconductor is held in position above the magnets. If you’re interested in learning more about the physics behind this demonstration, why not read up on their site or check out this video, which gives a breakdown of the process.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Adwords Location Targeted Improved

This time last year we were letting our clients know that local search engine optimisation was destined to be a hot topic in the natural search engine result pages. We advised our clients of the numerous ways in which our clients can increase their local traffic via natural search (i.e. not paid for search adverts) this included geo tagging, local business adverts, local mentions, local social network tribes. Paid for options have included local directory listings and local targeted paid search adverts.

Over the last year we have been working on our local targeted proposition and in the new year will be sharing with you a selection of success stories.
A recent development with location targeting is: at the end of October 2011, Google Adwords team announced that the local targeted features within Google Adwords are getting a makeover.

Google has noted that several businesses have been using Google location targeting features to drive more qualified customers through to their websites. With tighter targeting, Google report that one of their customers (digital agency) was able “to lower their cost per click (CPC) by 36%, driving in higher quality leads at a lower cost”.

We are pretty excited about the new location features, as it will make it easier to discover and obtain more detail for our clients, on potential target locations. Google is providing more information on ‘reach numbers by location’ to help estimate the potential audience/ leads available. These numbers relate to number of users seen on Google products in a given location and should be viewed as trends rather than accurate figures.

To find out more about the improved Adwords Location Targeted development, talk to the Flashlight “Local Targeting Ambassador” Fiona Anderson, or visit the Google Adwords Insider Blog here.

The above image shows current location targeting feature “Polygon targeting”. This feature is being migrated by the end of 2011. Google recommend using the ‘Target a radius’ feature which allows you to selectively add locations within the radius target. To help determine which to target, we suggest you should run a geographic performance report to get an idea of which locations received traffic within the custom shapes and then target those individual locations.

You can engage with Fiona on Twitter @GeekChicSocial; let her know you read this blog, as she loves Maps, Local, Google and Geo chats.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, November 04, 2011

‘Street View’ Google Map Indoors Photos Go Live

After the Google Street View service that allows viewers to view the exterior of a business, Google adds a new feature to its Google map services by allowing users to see 360-degree street-level images of the interior of various businesses, including restaurants, hotels, retailer shops and gyms etc.

This new feature has been discussed in news and in social platforms for a while and we have been watching and waiting for this evolution since before April 2010 when Google invited US businesses to have their business photographed.

According to BBC news, Google officially announced a pilot project in selected locations including London, Paris and a number of cities in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the US.
"Building on the Google Art Project, which took Street View technology inside 17 acclaimed museums, this project is another creative implementation of Street View technology, to help businesses as they build their online presence," a company spokesman told the BBC.
"We hope to enable businesses to highlight the qualities that make their locations stand out through professional, high-quality imagery." he added.

Having indoor photos on Google Maps, which are taken by Google photographers, will be valuable for local businesses that depend on local patronage. Customers check where to visit or eat/drink on the web and give importance to ambiance, merchandise, layout, or decor when choosing where to go. Thus, this application will definitely contribute to a businesses’ ‘online presence’. Businesses have an opportunity to become successful and benefit strategically from the interior photography.

This development made Rocktime Flashlight team excited as we optimise location based platforms like Google Maps as part of our local targeted campaigns created for various clients, in order to increase local awareness and reach. We have already applied to Google on behalf of our boutique hotel clients to have their beautiful rooms and sports facilities photographed by Google photographers. In brief, we, Flashlight executives believe that Google Map Indoors Photos will bring extra value to local businesses, and we hope this service will be available in more cities soon.

Our Google Places optimisation for clients usual results in page one positioning for preferred keywords, after a period of 4 to 6 weeks, depending on competitiveness. Please ask the Rocktime Flashlight Team if your business would like to achieve this success as part of an integrated digital marketing strategy.

Author: Aysegul Yigitbasi

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why Sarah is not happy with latest Google Update

Google announced last week that they are going to begin to encrypt searches made by logged in users, to make search more secure. Even though you can still obtain results on keywords (logged in or not) from paid search!

What this means to users is nothing (apart from security on keeping keyword searches secret), what this meant to website owners with analytics, is that they will no longer receive referral data from these (logged in) searchers. Generally we are fans of Google Updates as they are useful in their quest to make search a more pleasant experience. Alas, we are not fans of this change.

Monitoring the number of keywords that drive traffic to our clients websites is one of our favourite analytic reports. Our Search Marketing Executives get a real kick out of telling our clients (with search marketing contracts) that the number of keywords driving traffic to their website has increased by XXX %.

We will still be able to get the reports as this update will only relate to those logged in searchers. However, it won’t be the full picture, which makes us - Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Web site usability fanatics - sad.

There is a poll being run over at SEOptimise and based on the results so far, say that this is relating to more companies using PPC ads:
Visit the poll here

There is plenty of upset on this news, one we particular like is from Ian Lurie over at Search News Central and this statement in his article Dear Google, This is war:
“Don't get me wrong - I've not opposed e-mail ads, or Street View. But you can't shut down search query data and then protest privacy. That's like leaving one bite of steak on your plate and saying you're a vegetarian.” Ian Lurie, Oct 18th
Having had time to digest the news, I can now say that personally I am livid with the move, understanding what terms people are using to find your website allows you to create a site which suits the searcher and allows you to optimise on pages that they may not like at first glance. We (Search Marketing Flashlight team) are all about creating websites that benefit user and in turn increase client revenue. Google are making themselves out to be the good guys here, with regards to respecting privacy, but what will happen in turn is that people like us (Search Marketing and Web usability Ambassadors) will not be able to do our job to full effect.

We will still be able to determine keywords used from paid search adverts, however this will cost our clients additional money. For years now we have given all our focus to ramping up natural positions and diminishing PPC ads. Are people really that bothered that Google are keeping their keyword searches and using them to benefit their overall online experience!! Really!!

When people have complained to me in the past that they hate how Google use the details in their emails to show related adverts, I can understand their concern, however my response is generally as follows; Google is a free service, if you needed to pay for it, you probably would. Google make money from the advertising, this is how they are able to offer you search results that keep getting quicker and quicker.

Why Google have thrown in the 'we care about your privacy' card now, beats me. Totally stumped and off to complete the SEOptimise poll to tick the reason why Google have made this change as: to encourage more companies to use PPC Ads.

Graham Charlton over at E-Consultancy has invited some of the E-consultancy guest bloggers and a number of search and e-commerce experts what they think of this move. Please do go and visit this page to receive a more balanced view, you will soon come to note though that several in the Search Marketing community are not happy at all, Google SSL Encryption for search queries: the experts’ view.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, October 21, 2011

How to write a news article

In an ideal web world, every website would have a “News Module”. A news module is a place where a website visitor can keep up to date with what’s new with the site owner, the website business or business progress. Having a news or blog section on your website isn’t just useful for your website visitors; search engines (especially Google) absolutely love it. Search Engines love fresh, unique content that has relevance to the overall 'reason for being' of the website.

Many people struggle with what to talk about in their News. We advise that on launch of a new website, a business work with the Flashlight Search Marketing Team to scope out at least a dozen news articles for the coming year. Another common question is how long does the news article need to be and how do I write them.

To answer the first question; the length really depends on your target market, short sharp bursts of “Title: Local Coverage “We are featured in the daily paper this week, page 4, we are talking about XYX”” will do. The best news stories will also have a call to action. “We are featured on page XYZ talking about XXX, if you want to find out more before Tuesday then please call us on...”

How you write the news article could depend on the tone of voice for your company. As you read this blog post, you will note that it is quite informal and easy to digest. We are more formal in our news and give mention to targets and objectives. Please view our Rocktime news here and see if you can spot the different style.

Fiona, Communications at Rocktime, has worked with a number of Rocktime clients on the development of their news. She has written a rough template for news creation, and would like to share it with you here, to assist you in the creation of your company news.

Template for News Creation

Follow the below to help put your news story together.

Give consideration to:

Short, sharp, eye catching, optimised, with a `flavour` of the story.

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Think of the questions:

Any good news story provides answers to each of these questions.

* Who is the story about?
* What is the story about?
* Where is the story based?
* When is the story happening? Are there any other important time factors?
* Why is this interesting? Who is it interesting to?
* How are they going to make a difference?

Keep it relevant

Keep the news on topic, keep it focused for SEO benefits and don’t forget those internal and external links.
Note: I sometimes make 'external links' open in a new window, keeping the visitor on the website and 'internal links' open in the same window; the visitor can use the back button to navigate. This is a preference not a rule. If my consideration is focused on accessibility, I would not dictate opening new windows; for best practice I would leave it to the visitor to choose.

Other essential considerations

Which image will you use?

What is your call to action?

Introducing the Inverted Pyramid

If the news is for a press publication, consider ‘The Inverted Pyramid’

This refers to the style of journalism which places the most important facts at the beginning and works "down" from there. Ideally, the first paragraph should contain enough information to give the reader a good overview of the entire story. The rest of the article explains and expands on the beginning.

A good approach is to assume that the story might be cut off at any point, due to space limitations for instance. Does the story work if the editor only decides to include the first two paragraphs? If not, re-arrange it so that it does.

The same principle can apply to any type of medium.

More Tips on news creation

* It's About People
News stories are all about how people are affected. In your story, you might spend some time focusing on one or more individuals, or on how the team is doing, or how they are feeling.
* Have an Angle
Most stories can be presented using a particular angle or "slant". This is a standard technique and isn't necessarily bad; it can help make the purpose of the story clear and give it focus. Examples of angles you could use for your story:
"Team tackles difficult survey"
"Timeline of a long service award"
"Local Company Wins Global Account”

* Keep it Objective
You are completely impartial. If there is more than one side to the story, cover them all. Don't use "I" and "me" unless you are quoting someone.
Speaking of quoting...

* Quote People
For example: "We're really excited about this award," says xxxx, "It's the highest target we've ever set ourselves".

* Don't Get Flowery
Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Don't use lots of heavily descriptive language. When you've finished, go through the entire story and try to remove any words which aren't completely necessary.

Our Call to action

We mentioned above that a 'call to action' in a news story is important, they are also important in blog posts too; even if you just give the visitor a reason to engage with you i.e. leave a comment.
This blog post's call to action is as follows:
Should you require assistance with News Creation, News SEO Optimisation, News Campaign Planning, which also gives consideration to seeding out the news, then please get in contact with Fiona at Rocktime, who will happily supply you with a Flashlight Search Marketing quote and consultancy guide.

We hope you like out quirky image, which pays homage to 'Drop the Dead Donkey'

Authors: Sarah Griffiths and Fiona Anderson

Monday, October 17, 2011

Well done Domino's, £130k mobile orders in 1 day

We love this case study which was mentioned over at Mobile Marketing News earlier in the week. It mentions that Domino's Pizza's had a record month of mobile orders with 13% of their total orders coming in via mobile device, bringing in a sum of £130,000 in one day alone! What a fantastic statistic!

Domino's chief executive, Chris Moore, puts the company's sales into perspective:

"When we launched online ordering just over a decade ago, it was a huge ivestment, but one that has continued to pay off, year on year. To put this achievement in context, 12 years ago we took £100,000 in online sales a year, by 2000 we were taking £1m in a year and now we are taking £1m in a day."

Read more about the mobile application over at the Mobile Marketing website, which shares news, views and analysis of all things mobile.

This is a great testament to the value of mobile commerce and E-commerce, and shows the important of enabling customers to order and pay for their food no matter where the are.

Rocktime believes that companies who invested in mobile early will reap the rewards, but appreciate that tapping in to an unknown market has its risks. However the mobile market is growing at such a pace that today's business really needs to embrace the mobile culture or be swept aside by their competitoes, so developing a clear strategy is essesntial when considering mobile investment.

Dominos are a great example of a company who saw the market when it was in its infancy and decided to invest for the future.

If you want to discuss how mobile websites and/or mobile applications can integrate with your business, please contact the Rocktime Sales team.

Author: Martin Bradbury

Monday, October 10, 2011

Geek Video of the Month

For this month’s Geek Video we’re taking a look into the interesting internet marketing approach by BMW UK. Why not check out the above video for a demonstration of BMW’s Z4 in both reality and augmented reality.

This isn’t BMW’s first foray into the world of virtual reality, they’ve already been pondering on the practical application and advantages it could bring to their business, as mentioned by, as far back as 2009.

Whilst this is a great example, BMW UK aren’t the first to be using webcams and augmented reality; this time last year, Suzi Perry, presenter of the Gadget Show, was tasked with coming up with an ad campaign to use the most cutting edge technology. She included a similar augmented reality to the one above, which you can view here over at the Channel 5 website.

If you want to try out a virtual reality Z4 for yourself, all you need to do is print out the image provided on BMW UK’s site in black and white. After that you need to set up a webcam and ensure the printed symbol is always in view of the webcam and follow the instructions on the site from there. Enjoy driving your virtual Z4 around your work desk, floor or wherever you fancy!

You can also check out a collection of driving designs from other fans on the BMW UK’s Z4 Facebook page.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Thursday, October 06, 2011

To the creator, inventor and genius: you will be missed

We are saddened to hear the death of Steve Jobs. He was a great inspiration and thought leader in the computing world, transforming computers into digital lifestyle devices. Right now a number of poignant messages are being passed around the web on Steve’s impact.

On Google search for Steve Jobs, you may note that as a tribute the Google Homepage is directly linking to Apple, see image below.

Google report that there are currently 10929 related articles on Steve Jobs on the UK web. As a tribute we would like to add to this number. The articles we recommend are listed below. We have also taken a few screen shots of the impact and we have added these below.

The Design and Web Legacy of Steve Jobs

Mashable: Steve Jobs Obituary
Read Write Web: Steve Jobs Web Legacy
Wall Street Journal: Steve Jobs his legacy of deals

Pete Cashmore (Mashable) posts out news via Facebook, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg pay tribute.

Google’s Home Page with direct link to Apple

Celebrity Tweets

Trending Topics on Twitter

Author: All at Rocktime

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pros and Cons of Google+

Last week Google’s social network, Google+, opened its gates to all after two and half months of closed testing.

Fiona presents her breakdown of Pros and Cons of Google+ from the perspective of a Google Enthusiast for Rocktime clients and Music promotion.


I really liked the simplicity of registering to join Google+ BETA. My attention was kept by the use of innovative circles of networks and the ability to assign users to multiple circles. I am still only testing and not using Google+ until Google+ for businesses is available.

I found the integration of my Google+ profile with many of the other Google products I use like Picasa, Google Places reviews, iGoogle, YouTube, Gmail contacts, Google+1 button etc was and will be very useful.

After years of keeping a relatively low online personal profile, I suddenly found that my contact details and my ‘real life sharing’ were about to be made public. That proposition seemed less inhibiting as there are plenty of privacy control features in Google+ and it has an attractive interface. Once users recognise how to engage in an online social network and decide on what ‘their tone of voice’ is, adding another network is just another channel for communication. Facebook has been a good learning curve to develop a profile on.

With Google owning Android and Android doubling their UK market share in Q2 2011, which now makes up 47% and according to Mobile magazine share and the fact that 41% of the UK population own a Smartphone there is a lot of scope to develop.

Paying for goods with the Google Wallet app on an NFC enabled phone is due to be launched in UK next year and I am sure Google will find a way to link Google+ to our buying power.

The public Google+ profiles are indexed and can be found for a name search. Google ‘owns’, in today’s gaming and urban dictionary, search. Google+ is starting to do some rather fun things with music like their recent Daria Musk Google+ Hangout Concert. A "Hangout" is a live 10-person video chat on Google+. In addition, Google launched Google Magnifier earlier this year, which is a service or ‘discovery site’ that lets you upload your personal music collection to the cloud and listen to it on the web or your Android phone, or tablet.


I promote an acoustic musician, so what I was really waiting for, was the ability to add a music band to Google+. Google states quite clearly in the joining process that a full name is required, not a company, brand or band. YET! It’s coming! There are already so many music specific profile sites I’ve joined like FanBridge, Reverbnation, Facebook BandPage, SoundCloud, Bandcamp and the rest but Google+ offers the widest potential reach. Google is looking at ways to adapt the social networking site specifically for business use.

An impressive 27m people have signed up for Google+ since it launched in June 2011 but then the recent stats indicate it is now declining in daily visits.
There have been some known issues with Google+ but they seem to get plenty of publicity and therefore Google tries to resolves errors quickly.

One of the other issues that’s been flagged up in several places is Google+’s real name policy. Unsurprisingly there are many internet figures who are better known by an online alias, or just users who want to separate their online and offline interactions.

I tease about ‘Google world domination’; I hope it is only a joke!

If you’re interested in learning more about Google products and what they can bring to your business, why not contact Rocktime’s Flashlight Team for more information.

Author: Fiona Anderson

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Twitter Releases New Web Analytics Tool

We heard about the news from Mashable that Twitter is soon to roll out their Web Analytics tool.

We are quite excited to see the interface. The tool will help online marketers and website owners understand more about the effectiveness of their integrated Twitter campaigns.

The above image and below snippet has been taken from this Mashable post:

“Twitter Web Analytics, explains BackType founder and new Twitter platform staffer Christopher Golda, will help publishers and website owners understand three key things: How much of their content is being shared on Twitter, how much traffic Twitter is sending their way and how well Tweet Buttons are performing“

As with most social media channel updates, the Twitter web analytics tool is open to just a selected few to start off with and will be rolled out to all by October 2011. We are looking forward to seeing the working interface.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Thursday, September 15, 2011

YouTube Partner Programme

What is the YouTube Partner Programme?

The YouTube Partner Programme allows you to make money off your videos hosted on YouTube through revenue sharing, by allowing advertisements to be displayed on your videos. If you choose to have ad-supported videos, then ads are chosen automatically by YouTube’s system based on a number of factors (such as video category, etc).

Being a YouTube Partner also allows the user to stream videos in the highest possible quality; up to 1,080p HD. Partners can also upload long-form content with no size or file limit, inside a fully branded channel with additional design and interactivity options.

YouTube Partners are also given access to YouTube’s Content ID system (which can also be signed up for separately) which is aimed at users who hold exclusive right to the content they upload. It allows users to identify videos uploaded by others that are comprised entirely, or partially of their content and choose in advance what action they want to have happen, when such videos are found.

How can you join?

In order to join YouTube’s Partner scheme you need to apply through their site here. Your channel will be reviewed internally by YouTube to decide whether you fulfil the below criteria.

What are the requirements?

  • You must create videos that are suitable for online streaming
  • You must own or have express permission to use all of the audio and video content that you upload. NO EXCEPTIONS. Cover songs are not allowed unless the artist has obtained full synchronisation and performance rights.
  • You must upload videos regularly
  • You must have viewing figures in the 1000’s OR publish popular or commercially successful videos in other ways (i.e. online DVD sales)
Furthermore you need:
  • To have a YouTube User account
  • To not have any black marks against your account, you must not have violated YouTube’s Terms of Service.
  • To have an approved AdSense account.

Should you have a YouTube account and you would like to talk to the Flashlight Team on your future strategy plans, please get in touch with Rocktime Sales to arrange a meeting.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Updates to Google Product Feed

If you have a Google Product account (which feeds your products into Google Shopping), you will have recently been contacted by Google to let you know that there are important updates needed to your company's “Google product search feed”.

Google has made changes to the way website owners/managers submit their product data to Google Product Search. Google has supplied the new product feed specification to allow our Technical Team to determine which elements of the data feed we will need to change.

For further information please view the announcement of the update here; Upcoming Google Product Search Feed.

For website owners which rely on traffic from Google Product search it is vital that the changes are made before the 22nd September, as Google state that Google Product accounts that do not comply with the new requirements may be suspended.

We have contacted all of our clients with an active, or non-active Google Product Search Feed in their Rocktime E-commerce shops, about making the necessary updates.

Further information on this change, can be found over at Google Ecommerce YouTube Channel. We have added useful links to some of their (long) instructional videos below.
You can also view the long list of the new Google Product feed specification here.

If you require assistance updating your Google Product Feed, please do get in touch with our Sales Team.

Author: Farah Khan

Friday, September 09, 2011

Geek Video of the Month

Geek Video of the month is going to Video Mash Up Artist Swede Mason.

We are simply loving his work. The above video mash up Masterchef Synesthesia is our personal favourite, and has become a viral phenomenon.
Last time we looked it has had over 2 million and a half views, so impressive. If you are a fan of Top Gear, make sure you also check out the Jeremy Clarkson Beatbox video.
Pure Video Editing Genius, we are looking forward to more mash ups from Swede Mason and finding out more about the guy behind the edits and how he finds the time to produce such impressive material.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cloud Computing in Plain English

We are big fans of Common Craft videos as they have a great ability of simplifying a technical subject matter.

The above image links to a “for evaluation only Common Craft video” to explain about the basics of cloud computing, how it works and how businesses and individuals can use the Cloud to spend less time worrying about technology and focus on what matters (their growing business).

The video teaches you:
  • The difference between on-site computing and cloud computing

  • The financial benefits of cloud computing

  • What makes cloud computing secure and efficient

  • How cloud computing impacts consumers

To learn more about Cloud Computing please do make sure you read this month’s Guest Blog from C4L on Cloud Computing; 'C4L Talk Cloud Computing'.

In extension to the above, to understand more about how C4Ls cloud computing solutions can help your business contact their sales team on 08000 470 481 or visit their website

Author: Alice Cheetham

Friday, August 26, 2011

Introduction to HTML5

HTML5 is the next iteration of the technology used to structure and present content on the World Wide Web, short for HyperText Markup Language. Although most of the elements are already defined by W3C and implementable, it is not due for W3C Recommendation until 2022.

A major advantage of developing in HTML5 is as a replacement for Flash in graphically rich websites. Currently, if you visit a site with moving or slanted graphics - it will most likely be developed in Flash. The reason for this is that HTML 4.1 and below has very little graphical functionality in comparison to Flash. A good example of this is the German HTC website: viewed August 2011). In classic HTML, this site would be impossible to create due to the slanted angle of all the images. HTC have decided to produce this site in Flash, although exactly the same effects can be produced in HTML5.

Over the coming years we believe more and more web development agencies will choose to produce sites in HTML5 where they would otherwise have used Flash.

In summary the main advantages of using this over flash are:

a) Expense

Flash technology is owned by Adobe. As a developer, if I want to develop a Flash website then I would need to purchase the development environment from Adobe. In actual fact the majority of development agencies will already have purchased the environment needed for Flash development. So this argument really only applies to bedroom developers and students, who will either not have the funds for the flash IDE, or not justify the purchase as these people wouldn’t see the any return.

Although the above may seem of little importance to the website business owner, from a developer’s perspective it is crucial to allow new developers easy access to such tools. Otherwise there will only be a minority of developers able to create feature rich sites, and thereby depreciating the quality of the internet in general.

b) Availability

As most techies are aware, iPhones do not support flash. This is because Apple likes to maintain a strong hold over their hardware and the software that runs on it.

As Flash is a development platform, Apple will not allow it to run on their mobile devices, so any websites that use elements of flash will not render properly. Replicating any flash elements in HTML 5 allows much greater accessibility to a site using a smart phone.
It might also be worth considering the effect mobile HTML5 could have on AppStores in terms of mobile site versus applications. Using HTML5 could potentially allow a user to develop an accessible website for a smartphone without losing any functionality, due to its wide range of tools.

If a developer could run a flash application on an iPhone they could open up a means for uploading other homemade applications onto the phone, thereby diverting traffic away from the Apple Appstore (which turned over 1.7 billion dollars last year).

Another comparison to make is HTML5 “web application” and the standard desktop application. Due to other capabilities introduced in HTML5 it has become easier to create rich functionality in HTML5 web application which previously would have only been available to Desktop application developers. Such things as Web SQL Database Storage (which allows SQL style databases to be embedded into web applications) and Web Workers (provide a means to perform processor-intense tasks) open the door for larger web applications with greater functionality, without the need for installation.

Further thoughts on HTML5 from our technical team include the following;
  • As time moves on, HTML5 will take over the internet as the generally accepted standard for webpage markup.

  • Unlike the last release of XHTML from w3c, HTML5 does not try to impose rules on developers but rather increases our toolset.

  • HTML5 will also allow for much cleaner and consistent coding using the new elements and attributes.

There’s already a load of great examples of what HTML 5 can do, for example this collection of experiments on, or this fantastic take on a twitter feed by 9elements. Currently HTML5 isn’t supported by older browsers, so the above links may only work using newer versions of IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

The Rocktime Web Development Team is always working on innovations and bespoke coding to improve our client websites, microsites and online presence. Please give our Sales Team a call on +44 (0) 1202 678 777 to see how Rocktime can help you decide where using HTML5 can be of benefit within your marketing strategy.

Author: Dan Griffiths

Thursday, August 25, 2011

IFrames and Facebook

This month the blog is related to topics that the Rocktime Technical Team discuss. In this blog Craig talks iFrames and Facebook. Think of it as a 'Window within a browser'.

Facebook, as of February 2011, officially allowed the use of iFrames; allowing users to build fully customised facebook pages for their custom page tabs.

An iFrame is a section within a web page that can display another web page. This will allow for externally hosted web applications such as shops, forums, booking forms and more to be included on a Facebook Page.

iFrames allow for more flexibility in pages compared to the FBML (Facebook mark up language) which is now being depreciated; old pages using the FBML will still function however all new pages will have to be created using an iFrame.

FBML was developed to enable users to build Facebook apps that integrated into a user's Facebook. Currently, Facebook app uses iFrames to integrate website content into your Facebook page. It can do whatever a normal webpage can do.

The key advantages of using iFrames include:
  • Traffic driven directly through Facebook
  • The use of Analytics software
  • The use of CSS and your own code, allowing for full brand integration and increased functionality
  • embed video
To find out more about iFrames and how you can integrate your webpages into Facebook, please talk to our Sales team. Also you may like to note that the majority of our Content Management System modules have the ability to be fed into Facebook via a Facebook Application. The Facebook Application will render as an iFrame, which will stream content directly from your website.

The Flashlight team will be promoting our integration of our Competition Module with Facebook, so if you have this module, then they may be in touch soon to enquire about an update.

Author: Craig Sherlock

Friday, August 12, 2011

C4L Talk Cloud Computing

Introduction to this month's guest Blogger: Laura Bentham from C4L (Bournemouth Offices).
C4L offer secure, 24/7, high speed connectivity to 26 data centres across the UK and Europe.

Rocktime and C4L have a very close working relationship; developed through years of partnering on colocation projects together, helping clients to choose the best Internet Infrastructure and connectivity solutions.

C4L Talk Cloud Computing

Like renting a room when you need it, rather than buying the hotel.

When Rocktime kindly asked if we’d like to do a guest blog for their August takeover, we jumped at the chance. What’s always been strikingly apparent about Rocktime is their passion when talking about their current interests, and indeed industry themes.

Because of this, we chose to talk today about one of our passions: virtualisation, and why technology consumers should learn to love the cloud.

Not only has ‘cloud computing’ become a fashionable phrase among IT professionals, but the cloud computing market is also estimated to contribute £25 billion to the British economy by 2015.

Despite this, so many people remain unaware of what ‘the cloud’ is, and even more so, what it actually does.

In short, anytime you are using IT, which is not on your own physical computing device, you are using the cloud. If you upload data as a backup to a storage location, via the Internet, you've just used the cloud. Equally, if your work station is simply a screen, a mouse and a keyboard, you may well be connecting to the cloud for your personal computing. There are hundreds of different ways of using cloud technology, and in fact, most people will have already used the cloud without even realising.

So why do we need the cloud, and how can it benefit businesses?

As technology advances and physical servers become more and more powerful, in terms of their capacity and reliability, there is less often the need for a dedicated physical server. Using a virtualised, or cloud based alternative, clients are able to run their IT infrastructure at a much cheaper cost, yet still take advantage of all the same benefits provided by a classic server model.

You see, to us, the beauty of the cloud is in its convenient application. One of the key benefits to organisations is that virtualisation technology allows servers to be dynamically scaled up -or down, to suit requirements, providing a much more flexible environment than ever experienced before.

What’s more is that the security within a virtualised environment is second to none. Using hypervisor technology, virtualised servers are created as entirely self-contained environments, inaccessible to outside parties. Virtualisation also removes the need for organisations to operate physical servers from their office, meaning they eliminate the risk of damage or destruction, that can so easily be caused by those inevitable office accidents.

If you’d like any more information on C4L’s cloud computing solutions please contact our sales team on 08000 470 481 or visit our website

Author: Laura Bentham, C4L