The 2014 Riverland Wine and Food Festival - huge success!

I have had the privilege of acting as the Event Manager for the Riverland Wine and Food Festival for the past two years, and Chilli Chocolate Marketing is both a sponsor and the provider of digital engagement services to the event. 

This year's festival - the "RWFF" to aficionados - was a huge success, boasting increased numbers over 2013 (which itself was up on 2012) without a single problem incident. I'll post some more bits of info over days to come as we learned some really interesting things; in the meantime, here is an album of photos to give you a sense of RWFF 2014 :)

RWFF 2014 on Flickr


-- Kelly


You Gotta Try...Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia

The Fleurieu Peninsula through the eyes of local filmmakers Matt Salleh and Rose Tucker.

Nobody knows the best spots like the locals do – which is why filmmakers Matt and Rosie have rounded up a whole group of interesting, fun loving, adventurous South Australian’s from all walks of life with the sole purpose of sharing their Fleurieu Peninsula secrets with you, as well as a few old favourites that aren’t so secret.

The film gives visitors the inside scoop, while even the most diehard Fleurieu lovers may stumble across something new. This is what You Gotta Try in the Fleurieu Peninsula.

This is where we live and work. Somebody pinch me.
 

--Kelly

Twitter starts showing you messages from people you don't follow

Transient

From the Twitter support document "What's a timeline?"

Additionally, when we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.

This is a new development, and takes Twitter a step closer to Facebook in terms of artificial manipulation of what posts you see. So far Twitter isn't saying "we don't show you all the posts from people you follow", just "we may also show you posts from people you don't follow if we think you'd find them interesting".

More discussion in a post by Dan Frommer at QZ.com.

Catch of the Day hacked... three years ago?!

If reports are true one of the largest breaches of private user info to ever occur in the Australian retail industry actually took place in 2011 - and the retailer, daily-deal poster child Catch of the Day has only just informed its customers.

Customers just received the following email:

Data security is very important to us, which is why we need to let you know about some developments affecting member accounts created before 7 May 2011.

If you have not changed your password on Catchoftheday.com.au since 7 May 2011, we advise you to change your password. If you have changed your password since that time, no further action on our website is necessary, but we nevertheless encourage our users to regularly change their passwords.

It is always good practice to have unique passwords for every website that you use. If you used the same password for Catchoftheday.com.au as other websites in 2011 we recommend that you change all of those passwords as well.

In early 2011, Catchoftheday and other online retailers were targeted by an illegal cyber intrusion, which compromised names, delivery addresses, email addresses and hashed (encrypted) passwords. In some cases credit card data was compromised. Other websites in our Group were not affected.

At the time, we immediately informed police, banks and credit card companies who assisted us in taking action to protect our users, which included cancelling credit cards and launching investigations into the perpetrators.

We have also since informed the Australian Privacy Commissioner.

With technological advances it means there is an increasing risk that those hashed passwords may become compromised, which is why we are asking all those users with accounts created before 7 May 2011 to change their passwords.

Our security networks are continually evolving and have undergone major upgrades to keep in line with industry standards and best practices. We have better technology, better procedures and a bigger team dedicated to ensuring your experience with us is safe and secure. We regularly undertake external reviews and audits to ensure that our sites and your data are as secure as possible.

We sincerely apologise to our loyal customers that these events occurred and can assure you that we have dedicated significant resources to security and privacy to avoid these events in future.

Credit where it's due - if you're going to announce news of a disaster, 5.30pm on a Friday three years after the fact is a pretty good time to do it.

We'll be keeping a close eye on this one.

Understanding website analytics - what is Direct traffic?

It's the question that every Internet marketer dreads: 

"So I got the new Analytics report. What's Direct traffic?"

 

The answer is generally a mumble about bookmarks and location bars - maybe something to do with searches over SSL if you want to get technical - but when you get right down to it, the answer is essentially a variation on "we don't know".

Until now.

In a fascinating blog post at Search Engine Land Groupon Director of Product Management Gene McKenna outlines a fascinating experiment designed to answer the question that keeps Internet marketers up at night: "How much of the we-don't-know-where-it-came-from direct traffic is actually organic search?"

At Groupon, we conducted a potentially dangerous experiment to give us the answer. We don’t recommend you try this at home, but having great confidence that Google could index a site really quickly, we completely de-indexed our site one day.

That’s right — for the sake of SEO science, we deindexed ourselves completely for about 6 hours. We know what you’re thinking, but we assure you that this was not just an accident that occurred during use of the remove-this-URL-from-the-index feature in Google Webmaster Tools.

OK, that's pretty terrifying. But what did they learn?

Our testing shows that, for a site getting in the ballpark of 50% mobile web traffic, the 60% of the traffic to long URLs reported as Direct is probably Organic traffic from Google.

Read a detailed analysis here.

But the conclusion is clear: the value of organic SEO is even higher than we all thought. Search-engine optimisation activity is responsible not just for the big blue segment of the Acquisition pie chart, it's responsible for over half the mystery green segment as well.

On behalf of SEO nerds everywhere, a big cheers to Groupon!

‘Google Schmoogle’ – how Yellow Pages got it so wrong

At Chilli Chocolate Marketing we - like most Internet and media observers - have watched the performance of Yellow Pages/Sensis with a mixture of frustration, pity, and amusement. (See "Sensis, White & Yellow Pages - still dying", "Directory advertising in White and Yellow Pages", "How to cancel White and Yellow Pages book deliveries", "Sensis lays off workers as print-directory business collapses")

John Rice and Nigel Martin write in The Conversation:

Yellow Pages directories have been appearing on doorsteps across Australia in recent weeks. As often as not, they go straight into the recycling bin. In the world of the internet and e-commerce, the very notion of a book the size of two bricks being the source of valuable purchasing information seems plain silly.

Once directories like the Yellow Pages served a valuable need in most developed economies. They provided basic and inexpensive local advertising, especially for small businesses.

As the internet emerged as the preferred means of accessing such information, the potential for directory owners like Telstra to translate directory information into a valuable online business opportunity seemed promising. As is often the case in the unpredictable world of the internet, it was not quite so simple.

In January 2014, Telstra sold a 70% share of Sensis, its directories subsidiary, to a US hedge fund for A$454 million, only 2.4 times projected 2014 earnings. This is quite a turnaround from the A$12 billion value suggested to Telstra’s Board in 2005. At the time, Telstra’s chief executive Sol Trujillo declined to spin-off the business, suggesting Sensis (Telstra’s directory business) would be “bigger than Google”.

Laughable then, laughable now. So how did this come to pass?

Better information, less asymmetry

The steep decline in the generic, supplier-provided data that is the essence of Yellow Pages has been driven by a set of related phenomena.

First, sites like TripAdvisor have emerged to provide detailed and generally reliable information on services including hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants and the like. Importantly for Yellow Pages, sites such as these are becoming the first place for buyers to visit. As the quantity of collected reviews increase, the value of such sites increases greatly, as they provide a level of information on sellers that static directories cannot match.

Second, the costs of “searching” for information is in steep and terminal decline. Once, buying a set of golf clubs for the best price, for example, required a multitude of phone calls or, worse still, visits to stores with pushy salespeople. Now, finding the best price in the market is a few keystrokes away through Google.

The authors conclude:

Too late for Sensis?

This begs the question – can the Yellow Pages reinvent itself to be a new portal for information on sellers that will be valuable for buyers, and thus continue to attract advertisers? The answer is probably not. As a late mover into such information provision, it will have an almost insurmountable challenge to build an equivalent body of information in comparison to its competitors. More so, it will be a generalist in an industry full of specialists, the last site visited by buyers and thus the least valuable site for sellers to direct their advertising dollars to.

This makes the 2.4 times 2014 earnings paid in January for Sensis seem about right. Such a multiple suggests that this year’s Yellow Pages might be the last one to lob onto Australia’s front porches. If this is bad news for Sensis, it is good news for the millions of trees that will be saved!

In the meantime you can cancel your dead-tree deliveries from Sensis at www.directoryselect.com.au.

Do you spend too much when you buy wine online?

Wine writer Huon Hooke posts:

Some new research suggests that a third of Australians who buy alcohol online admit they spend too much money on it.

And one in three consumes more than six drinks in one sitting at least once a week.

Nevertheless, about one third of respondents consider themselves something of an expert when it comes to wine or beer. Surprise me! Had they been drinking when they filled out the questionnaire?

The research was undertaken by Canstar Blue, a ‘customer research specialist’, which conducted a survey on drinking habits as part of its research into online alcohol stores.

Respondents mentioned these websites: Liquorland, Dan Murphy’s, Cellarmasters, DealsDirect.com.au and GraysOnline.

More than half of those questioned admitted drinking too much and embarrassing themselves in the past.

As well, 37% of those surveyed included alcohol as an item in their weekly budget, while a third admitted they spent more than they did 12 months ago.

According to the survey, the average spend of the respondents was $118 a month ($1,416 a year) on alcohol, with Victorians ($133) spending the most and Queenslanders ($98) the least. Men ($131) spend more than women ($100) and Baby Boomers ($130) comfortably out-spend Gen X ($116) and Gen Y ($89).

Disclosure of blatant self-interest: many of our clients operate in the wine and hospitality industries, we have built and administer online wine stores, and we love people buying wine online! :)