Facebook Buy – frictionless innovation

Facebook’s recent introduction of a ‘buy’ button, allowing users on desktop and mobile to buy advertised products with just one click, and without leaving the social network, is yet another demonstration of social platforms looking towards monetization beyond display advertising.

The new feature, which so far has only been tested by a few small and medium-sized businesses in the US, is Facebook’s most recent innovation in the realm of frictionless commerce and will help the social network be less reliant on advertising.

It isn’t just Facebook exploring direct and affiliate revenue. Twitter has just announced the acquisition of CardSpring, a payment infrastructure, that enables retailers to connect to publishers to create online-to-offline promotions; Pinterest, meanwhile, has teamed up with Shopify, an e-commerce platform for more than 100,000 merchants, which ensures that all pins of their products include valuable information such as pricing and stock availability.

These approaches enable platforms to become more insular experiences, almost like shopping malls – allowing users to socialise with their friends, grab a coffee, find and share new content, search and purchase products, all without leaving their space. Whilst Amazon has huge capabilities in commerce and fulfillment, they lack the social dynamic – and social platforms integrating commerce means you can have a more enjoyable ‘browsing’ experience, without having to leave the space.

The rise of media convergence, driven not least by the unprecedented growth of mobile device usage, is increasingly bringing commerce and content closer together. The constant assault of new technologies, whether Facebook’s ‘buy’ button, Amazon’s FireFly or examples like PowaTag, which allows consumers to instantly purchase products via QR codes, are continuing to break down the old models of what, where and how retail is defined – e-commerce is now becoming ‘everywhere’ commerce.

The biggest threat to retailers now comes from standing still.

Not exploring and experimenting with new distribution channels will open up opportunities for new forms of competitors, enabling them to steal ‘share of time’ and even poach customers – a dangerous scenario that retailers can no longer ignore. Now is the time for retailers and brands who exist in retail spaces to work with their partners, and understand how they can use these technologies to redefine their retail experience, and redefine how media can deliver business value.

(Originally posted on Retail Week)


Edges of London – the numbers

I generally like to look at the data of the projects which I work on (mostly so I can see what nonsense I’ve signed myself up to).


Whilst I am clearly lacking in terms of ability to visualise interesting data, here’s a chart I’ve created to show myself the journey times from shortest to longest from my common starting point of Richmond for the Edges of London project.

The rule is simple – travel only by the tube network (i’m including DLR and overground), no buses, no cheating.

The closest, naturally, is Richmond, of 0 minutes travel time.

The furthest is Chesham, with an estimate of 110 minutes (although as I travel most on weekends, that is probably an underestimate, Amersham was a solid two hour journey).

In total, I have about four days of travel ahead of me.

The scale of the project is clear when you look at the tube maps against a geographical map of London.

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 02.05.14


As you’ll notice, the map when laid out geographically bears practically no resemblance to Harry Beck’s heavily stylised map of the network.

The edges of the map stretch way way out beyond what would traditionally be recognised as London – with Amersham and Chesham in Buckinghamshire,  and Epping up in Essex. Even Richmond station, my ‘Station Zero’ for the project is in a borough made up of parts of Middlesex and Surrey.

I’ve used the excellent CityMapper as my guide, and I’ll be logging more data as the project unfolds.

The raw data is here if you want it, and i will try and keep it all within the same structure/sheets.

(I’d love to find an visualiser who can help me with making these aspects of the project more appealing to look at too).

An image from my new project - Edges of London.

Take a look at

Edges of London

My new project “Edges of London” launches today.

I’m building a slowly growing photographic collection of visits to the end of every tube line.

Over the course of the next 12 months or so, I’ll be travelling to the 35 stations on the London tube network which are the end of a line, and capturing the conversations I have with folk, as well as anything interesting I spot visually.

The first station was Amersham.


Twitter for Strangers

I have a growing sense of unease about what I do and who I follow.

Reading introspectively about what our industry does, new technology, new applications of that technology, new behaviours – it all feels like a meta-exercise.

I don’t want to read about what my peers are doing.

I want to read about what people I don’t know are doing.

I need a type of twitter for people who I don’t follow.

Every day, my feed would be created of new, interesting, passionate folk, who I’ve not met and don’t know what they do, talking about their day, and their work, in every field of life.

Imagine it like a magazine or podcast, with that wonderful editorial curation that brings you new ideas, but rather than long form articles, just their passing thoughts and whimsy.

An exercise in serendipity perhaps.