Category Archives: Uncategorized

100km In The Dark for Macmillan Cancer Support

Allister's-Ridiculous-Charity-Cycle-RideIn around seven weeks’ time I’ll be attempting to cycle 100km (62 miles) overnight around the cold, dark streets of London to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. My nan died last month after battling cancer for much of her life so this feels like a nice way to remember her and help others who need help.

I’d be so grateful for your support and any small donation you can make. The donation page is open now at; every penny goes straight to charity.

My training is now underway although this has mostly consisted of playing with my new bicycle bell and wondering why padded cycling shorts make me look so absurd. I need to get some serious miles under my belt over the next few weeks; if you see me wheezing along the road near you give me a wave.

Thank you for your support, wish me luck!

UK 1st March: New digital marketing regulations

Attention all digital marketers covering the UK!


Important new regulations came into force at midnight on 1 March 2011 designed to give consumers more comprehensive protection online. In short, the Code of Advertising Practice (CAP) has been extended to cover digital channels including websites and social media channels. This means that the same rigorous rules that already apply to marketing communications like TV and print ads now also apply online. Read on to get the full picture.

Websites and Social Media channels now governed by CAP

CAP logoFrom today (1 March 2011), new regulations are in force governing the ways organisations trading in the UK can use their own websites and other non-paid-for online channels for marketing communications, advertising and marketing purposes. As a result, any activity that is considered to be advertising or marketing communication on internal websites or non-paid-for Social Media channels will now be governed by the Code of Advertising Practice (CAP) under the remit of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

What this means for you:

Previously, the CAP only applied to traditional forms of advertising like TV and print ads. From today, however, if you publish messages which are deemed to be an advertisement or marketing communication, including videos, to any digital channel your activity will be governed by the terms of the CAP. All digital channels are covered including websites, social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook, and other non-paid-for placements.

Under the Code, you must ensure that all information shared through any digital channel complies fully with the CAP and that your message does not mislead, harm or offend. Your marketing messages must also be socially responsible and prepared in line with the principles of fair competition. In addition, the Code contains specific rules for certain products and marketing techniques including environmental claims, direct marketing and prize promotions, all of which are now extended into digital channels.

Sanctions for non-compliance with the CAP can be severe including, but not limited to, the removal of an offending company’s paid-for search advertising and high profile advertising by the ASA to highlight an advertiser’s non-compliance with the Code.

Some examples of potential infringements of the CAP:

  • Posting a prize draw promotion on Twitter without providing detailed approved terms and conditions
  • Discrediting or denigrating another product, marketer, trademark, trade name or other distinguishing mark in a post on Facebook
  • Sharing a photo online of a child in a hazardous situation or behaving dangerously
  • Implying a person has given a personal approval of a product without first obtaining their explicit written permission allowing this
  • Posting advice that may cause fear or distress without justifiable reason; if it can be justified, the fear or distress should not be excessive
  • Sending unsolicited email marketing communications that are not obviously identifiable as marketing communications without the need to open them
  • Adopting user generated content (UGC) from private individuals that breaches any aspect of the CAP into formal marketing communications
  • Using a shocking claim or image merely to attract attention
  • Viral videos that breach any aspect of the CAP guidelines

If you publish content to digital channels be sure to familiarise yourself with the CAP and ensure that your actions will not breach any of the terms of the Code.

Further reading:

About the digital remit extension:

The Code of Advertising Practice (CAP): 
(see the General Sections link for specific exclusions and exemptions)

The end of an era

I started up the UsefulTechnology blog way back in April 2005. In those days computers hadn’t been invented, everything was black and white, and I hadn’t even been born. Back then, my work was focussed on technology, but mostly clever things like Exchange Server and Microsoft Outlook 2003, so that’s what I wrote about and I was glad you joined me for the ride.

A lot has changed since those days and, as my regular reader, yes you, will have observed, the UsefulTechnology blog has become steadily quieter to the point where it’s grown dusty and creaky, and feels a bit unloved. Today my life is focussed much more on marketing technology than the technology itself, and I’ve grown increasingly interested in digital marketing, social media, and other things that haven’t yet been invented.

And so it feels right to move on, to let the UsefulTechnology blog enjoy its resting years, and to focus my mind on shinier things. That’s why I’ve created a new blog, at a new place, and it even has a new name. OK, it’s not a great name, and I reserve the right to change it if I can only think of anything better, but it’s new name, and that name is The Digital Marketer.


I’ll be writing mostly about digital marketing which covers some amazing things like social media, search, and viral marketing. My posts will attempt to convey a small part of the excitement of being part of the fastest-moving transformation the marketing world has ever seen. And, yes, occasionally I may find time for the odd technology story; old habits die hard.

I hope you’ll join me in the new home at If you do I’ll be very grateful and will do a little dad-dance in your honour. If you don’t, this needn’t be the end, you can find me anytime at or in a nearby real ale pub. Cheers!

20 of the best social media campaigns ever

Thanks to Fuel Lines for spotting Forbes’ recent article on the world’s best buzz-generating social media campaigns. It’s a fascinating list, which I’ve repeated below, and it’s worth reminding ourselves how much ground we’ve covered as a marketing profession. So many of these successful campaigns started out as a test, a pilot, a trial to see what might happen. And they’ve proved time and again that an imaginative thought coupled with the right timing and sometimes the simplest of executions can deliver devastating results.

My personal favourite? “Blendtec: Will it Blend?” Perfectly on brand, brilliantly simple, very low cost, and completely unforgettable. Thumbs up

Forbes’ list of the 20 best-ever social media campaigns:

  1. “The Blair Witch Project”
  2. Blendtec: Will It Blend?
  3. Old Spice: “Smell Like a Man, Man.”
  4. Burger King: “Subservient Chicken”
  5. Pepsi Refresh
  6. VW: “Fun Theory”
  7. OfficeMax: “Elf Yourself”
  8. Evian: “Roller Babies
  9. Ikea: “Facebook Showroom”
  10. Hotmail
  11. Whopper Sacrifice
  12. Target: “Bullseye Gives”
  13. Vitaminwater
  14. Smirnoff: “Tea Par-tay”
  15. The Dark Knight: Why So Serious?
  16. Quicksilver: “Dynamic Surfing”
  17. Cadbury: Gorilla
  18. BMW: “1 Series Graffit Contest”
  19. Bing/Farmville
  20. CareerBuilder: Monk-e-Mail

Using Outlook Rules to ease e-mail overload

Rules are instructions you set up in Microsoft Outlook to have certain e-mails managed and delivered in a special way. For example, you might want all e-mails from a certain person delivered to a specified folder, or perhaps you’d like to hear an alert sound whenever you receive an e-mail with certain words in the subject line.

‘Rules’ is an age old feature of Microsoft Outlook, but one which is often misunderstood or ignored. A recent post from Josh Meisels in the Microsoft Outlook product team reminded me how easy it now is to set up and manage rules, especially if you have Outlook 2010 where the ribbon even suggests helpful rules for each e-mail you receive:


Don’t forget you can also apply rules when you send e-mails. I have my famous 2 minute delay on all e-mails I send; find out why here.

Facebook connector for Outlook, and more!


Outlook users who dabble in Social network sites like Facebook and LinkedIn (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t dabble these days?) will be delighted with the hot Outlook Social Connectors released yesterday. With these add-ins you can connect your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Windows Live accounts to Outlook, allowing you to see updates and recently posted items from your contacts on each social network. The connectors work in Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 and the new kid on the block Microsoft Outlook 2010.

After installing and connecting to your social networks, you’ll see a window like the example above within Microsoft Outlook which will auto-populate with the latest social updates from the sender of each e-mail you receive. It’s really cool to instantly see what each of your contacts have been up to through so many different social networking sites.

You can download the various connectors from Microsoft at the links below:

Microsoft Outlook Social Connector Provider for Windows Live Messenger

Microsoft Outlook Social Connector Provider for Facebook

Social Connector for Outlook 2003 and 2007

LinkedIn connector (direct from the LinkedIn web site)

And extra connector for MySpace will be released shortly assuming, of course, there are still some people dabbling on MySpace by then…

[Update: here’s a wooden video about this: High Quality WMV (2.5 Mbps)]

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