While on a holiday in the good old U.S of A I noticed something about the quality of the customer service which I’ve never before witnessed in Ireland; it was good. In fact, it was great. Service with a smile and I was happy to leave a tip. McDonalds gets the kudos here seeing as I spent a lot of time in it. Not once when I was waiting in line did I hear “Neeeeext” or “Yeah?/Alright?/Hiya?/Howiye?/Well?”. Every time it was “I Can Help the Next Customer”. I loved this. It stuck with me because it was like an offering, not a demand, not a “hurry up so I can serve the person behind you”. It was more like “come over here to me and I’ll take care of that for you”. As close to an Irish mammy as you would get on another continent.

Now I’m going to slate the financial sector here for a bit, just to put this article into context. I know that everyone likes to give out about the banks but I’m not going to be talking about how they ruined the world. My humble spiel starts off with trying to get an increase on an overdraft. I had a student account so I was legally entitled to it. It took a phone call a week, for four weeks and a formal complaint until I managed to get to speak to someone in the branch. At no stage did they make any effort to make my life easier with a simple call back or an e-mail.

So why did I wait around? Did I feel bad for the bank? Maybe it was because they had had a fairly rough time over the last few months and I didn’t want to cause any undue hassle. Why didn’t I take to the airwaves and give Joe Duffy a shout? Probably because I don’t have that kind of time on my hands.

More so though, it was down to the fact that we as Irish people are not complainers. At least not to the faces of those who work for these companies. Did you ever get a bad hair cut? When they show you the back with the mirror and ask “now how’s that?” and all you can think is “that is exactly what I did not ask for”. But you don’t say it. You smile politely and nod your head; “that’s great thanks”. Why do we do this? Is it just some setting in our Irish genes? Is it a confidence issue? Maybe we just don’t like to make a fuss.

What I should have done was taken to Facebook. I have noticed this becoming commonplace and in Ireland in particular. I’ve witnessed people venting their anger at companies via Facebook and getting Usain Bolt-speed results. See below for one such example I happened across only days ago. 



Take another example of a new-ish restaurant in Ranelagh. They caused a right ruckus when they called one of their customers an a***hole after he complained on Twitter about the speed of the service…while still in the restaurant! Click here to see how it all unfolded.

You see, we just don’t make complaints face to face.

What does this tell us about social media and the benefits, along with the potential pitfalls for businesses that use it? For one thing, beware about what you’re opening yourself up to. People will complain a whole lot faster than they will compliment. Secondly, it should be embraced as an opportunity to get complaints dealt with as quick as possible and then reap the rewards of the positive PR.

Social media has opened the flood gates for people to complain in a sort of half-assed public manner. It’s the Irish way of politely causing a scene. It’s also a brilliant way of getting your grievances sorted in a jiffy.

– Mark




It is an occupational challenge of working in digital that you are frequently asked to predict what the big trends will be in the coming years, months and weeks.  Given the pace of change this is understandable but it does sometime leave you feeling like a racing tipster…should I back Pinterest?  Is Facebook’s Graph Search the new Istabraq?  

The most challenging question though is the non-specific, “what is the digital future”?

Such is the pervasiveness of all things digital through our lives that in many ways it is now redundant to talk about the ‘digital future’.  Digital channels are no longer novel but are fully integrated into our lives.  The ‘digital future’ has truly gone the way of our ‘electric future’ and ‘automobile future’; so ubiquitous that they have stopped being the future.

One future that you could confidently tip for success is our ‘data future’.  This future will soon join its digital counterpart in ubiquity, but for now data holds amazing potential and opportunity for those who can understand and control it.      

One person who had a team that understood the power of data was Barack Obama.  While in 2008 the big story was the Obama campaigns cutting edge use of social media, 2012 was all about harnessing the power of data.  Obama ran a ‘moneyball campaign’ to effectively target prospective voters.  This US election cycle also saw the emergence of data’s first superstar, Nate Silver, who by correctly predicting the elections outcome brought to mass awareness the power of looking deep, very deep, into the numbers.

Whatever about the possible long term impact of social media for marketers, developments in data management will fundamentally redefine how advertisers interact with consumers.  In the relatively short term very few media buys will take place without data playing a role. 

Digital media has always offered up a huge amount of data to advertisers and agencies, but making real sense of that data and making it work with other data sets has been a near impossibility.  This is all changing – the data sets exist and are starting to talk to each other and the potential is huge. 

The smart marketers are the ones who decide not to ignore the potential of data.  Quickly it won’t just belong in the realm of backroom geeks like Nate Silver and people predicting the future.  So if you ask me I’d be sticking a score on Big Data in the bumper. 

– Garret



A while back I was at a friend’s emigration party which are becoming all too frequent now. At this party I had my iPhone 4. The next day I no longer had my iPhone 4. I’m 99% certain it was stolen because I haven’t lost a mobile phone since I was 14. The blind panic I experienced the day after has led me to write this piece.

I honestly felt like a part of me was missing. I could no longer feel the weight of it in my pocket. I had lost that sense of social security it provides; the knowledge that no matter where I am, finding out what’s happening in my social circle or the world in general, is only a few clicks away. On top of all that, I hadn’t backed it up to the new computer in my house. So everything was gone: contacts, messages, e-mails, videos and pictures of the best holiday I had ever been on.

In the last ten to fifteen years we have gone from having a phone, walkman, camera and wallet on separate devices, to them all being bundled into one. Friend or foe? At least when you lost your phone, that was it, it could be replaced. Now though, if you lose your smartphone, it’s all of the above gone out the window in a heartbeat. The convenience it provides when you have it is enormous and for those of you that own one I am sure you have often asked yourselves; “how did I ever live without it?”

Not being able to afford to immediately replace my handset, I had to settle for a run-of-the mill mobile phone, with none of the added extras. No apps, no emails, no songs, no photos. On the plus side, it had polyphonic ringtones and the original version of Snake.

While being stuck in the technological past I underwent an experience that still resonates with me. At the age of 23, I was slagged by every single person I met who saw my good old brick phone. Is that kind of malarkey not for reserved for teenage bullys? “Nice iPhone man”…”Jesus do they still make those?”…”hahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahhaha” and so forth. It was time to start saving a few quid and get back on the horse. Technology, the Internet and all-round connectedness has become essential in our daily lives, to the point where if you’re not online all of the time, you’re out of the loop.

At the same time, it was kind of nice to be disconnected. Because we are always online, we work at such a speed today that work is always on the brain. Rarely do we switch off because we simply don’t have the option. I felt relaxed, I felt rejuvenated and the pressures of life were lifted for a while.

But then I felt the urge, as I am sure smokers who try to give up cigarettes feel. I needed to get back online, I started to hate not being able to join in the discussion. If I wanted up-to-the minute news I had to be beside a computer. So I went to the shop and took the plunge. Now this is where my article has been leading to. The decision to buy the Apple iPhone 4S or the 5. Why didn’t I want a Samsung or HTC? Personally, when I’ve tried and tested something, I’m very reluctant to change. If it ain’t broke…! All of the accessories I have at home are only compatible with the iPhone 4/4S so to buy the 5 would have meant I would have to upgrade everything else. And that wasn’t an option. This is why I really love/hate Apple.

From a business perspective, Apple is exceptional at what it does with the upgrades to its products; constantly changing the software, hardware and accessories so eventually the new stuff doesn’t work with the old stuff and it forces the consumer to spend more money. What’s more, once you purchase an Apple product, you’re sucked into their world. A lot of people simply won’t switch to another manufacturer out of the sheer hassle it causes. But I think the tide is slowly turning with the number of competitors in the marketplace making products of similar quality at more affordable prices.

So have Apple plateaued? Statistics show a drop-off in the sales of iOS run devices with Google’s Android taking the top spot in 2012 with a 72.4% share of the global market. Samsung came first in terms of global shipments of mobile phones with a 29% share. To boot, Apple haven’t released a game-

changing product in quite a while. This is what they came to prominence for; creating products which didn’t already exist.  They created whole new markets and were pro-active where others were reactive. So what’s gone wrong?

Is Tim Cook, the new CEO not up to the mark? He certainly lacks the same charisma and unique presence of Steve Jobs. The iPhone 5 was a bit of a blunder with the disaster that was Apple Maps and this forced the company to put Google Maps back on the iPhone as a standard app. Added to that was the distinct lack of new features with the general public becoming increasingly weary of hearing the same “better camera, slimmer size and a lighter weight” routine. Sure the screen was bigger and the processor chip faster, but these mediocre improvements weren’t enough to invoke the “ooohhs and aaahhhs” of previous Apple products. Samsung even took the opportunity to highlight this in their advertising offensive against the technology giant which you can view below.


The kicker for me was how they changed the charging adapter, making every accessory for ALL of the previous iPhone models obsolete.

When I think about it a bit more, I wonder are people simply fed up with Apple and their money-grabbing antics? Some of the “anti-establishment” amongst us even go out of their way to smash up Apple products in protest. Ironically, they pay good money for the products they destroy. Well done guys, that’ll teach ‘em!

As someone who works in the business world and has studied it for years, I can appreciate what Apple has done and continues to do for its shareholders: make astronomical amounts of money. But from a consumer perspective, I can’t help but feel a little ripped off. Apple is my Marmite, except I can’t decide.




It’s been reported today that internet companies like Facebook and Google might have to go through more stringent permission processes in the future to access information about their users. Apparently, European Union lawmakers are hoping to give users more control over their personal data online. And to be honest, it’s probably about time too!

Even though I work in the industry and would consider myself to be pretty savvy when it comes to the digital world, I still have no idea how to protect my personal information online. With that said, I don’t feel like the websites make it very straight forward. They want me to be confused and feel hassled by the prospect of trudging through pages to locate and update my privacy settings. Why? Because, at the end of the day they need to know me! In the online world, user information is king and it’s what sells websites to advertisers.

Just back in September, our own offices erupted into what I can only describe as pandemonium when reports starting circulating that Facebook’s privacy settings had been updated, and as a result private user messages were appearing on profile pages. It was like the world had ended (for the girls anyway!). None of us could believe that this was even possible. I went home that evening to tell my family all about the big upset, only for my Mum to come out with a gem of a comment ”What’s the big deal? Sure yous MUST have known that nothing is private when it’s on that internet-thing. Even I know that”. I couldn’t believe it, she had a point. It’s so easy to assume that you can do things privately on the internet, but it’s just not the case.

The video above helps to illustrate just how much information is being gathered about us online. The author rightly points out that tracking isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it can enhance our online experience by ensuring we’re served relevant content. But people do need to have a choice, so it’s great to see that developments are being made to give people just that.

– Susan

Happy New Year!


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