On the run: lack of sport drives fans to madcap world of marble racing | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

“Can’t believe I watched this all the way to the end,” Gary Lineker tweeted early into Britain’s coronavirus crisis. “The lack of live sport is clearly getting to me.” He attached a 2-minute YouTube video in which a handful of marbles career down a twisting channel dug into sand, accompanied by a breathless commentary: “Marbles in the blocks … and they’re off!”
Once an unseen figure sets the marbles loose, there is no human interaction in the race, the positions of the coloured competitors decided purely by chance and the chicanes of the course. The early lead is taken by a light blue marble called Comet, until an unlucky collision knocks it back to fourth place. “And now Comet, just like that, fights back to the lead,” roars the commentary. The marble goes on to finish with an emphatic win. 
“Sod you Lineker, you drew me in,” tweeted one follower. “But you’re glad I did, aren’t you?” replied the TV presenter and former England footballer. 
Welcome to the madcap world of competitive marble racing, which you might describe as a spoof sport were it not, to its growing number of fans, so very serious.
The sand rally was staged by Jelle’s Marble Runs, a YouTube channel that since 2006 has been run by a Dutch marble enthusiast, Jelle Bakker, and his older brother, Dion. 

Dion Bakker, Jelle Bakker and Anton Weber of Jelle’s Marble Runs. Photograph: Jelle’s Marble Runs
Beginning with relatively simple if enormous marble runs, they progressed to competitions, and now screen several elaborately staged events each year. These see teams of marbles, often having progressed through qualifying rounds, compete in sand racing rallies and motor racing-inspired contests called things like Marbula One. Later this month they will stage the Marble League, a multi-sport tournament inspired by – but no longer named after – a more familiar multi-sport event, after the International Olympic Committee objected to its original name of Marblymics. 
Though marble racing’s popularity among fan communities has grown steadily in recent years, the global pandemic, as Dion notes wryly, “has been pretty good to us”. At the start of March, the JMR YouTube channel had fewer than 600,000 subscribers. That number is now more than 1.1 million and, he says, “I think we will jump to 2 million pretty soon.”
The past month has seen the sport make its TV debut on US network ESPN and attract the attention of the comedian John Oliver’s HBO show Last Week Tonight, which will financially sponsor the forthcoming Marble League in return for a few diminutive billboards placed among the event’s 10,000+ marble “spectators”. The team will meet this week with a major international TV producer who is interested in developing marble racing as a primetime TV format. After 20 years in youth work and child psychiatry, Dion quit his job three days ago, saying “I just live from YouTube now.”
It was Jelle, now 37, who first began making marble runs as a four-year-old autistic child, helped by his brother, who is two years older. Jelle still builds all the tracks and stands for the races, though it is no longer a two-man operation. The commentator, Greg Woods, is American; their designer is based in Belgium, their composer in Greece. A 15-strong committee scrutinises all times and results. “Yeah, we have to check everything really well,” says Dion, “because in America people are really living for it, and they see it as a real sport.” Merchandise sales for the competing teams, inevitably, are also booming.

One of the sets at Jelle’s Marble Runs. Photograph: Anton Weber/Jelle’s Marble Runs
How does he account for its appeal? The lack of any other sport has obviously been significant, he says, also pointing to the humour of the videos, which include stop-motion battles between competing marble in the stands and marble streakers.
Fundamentally, Dion says, “it pulls you into another dimension. Most people who watch it forget real life. Everything that has a competitive element – the human brain is just addicted to that.” He says 49% of viewers are now in the US, with the UK the fourth biggest audience after the Netherlands and Germany. “People are really rooting for one team. It’s very cool to see and to experience.”
And yet, he confesses with a laugh: “I don’t understand it really, because if you ask me, I would never watch it. I would never watch it on YouTube if I wasn’t involved.”

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In a polarised world, even checking facts on Twitter becomes politicised | Kenan Malik | Opinion- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Like many Twitter debates, the war of words that broke out last week between Donald Trump and the social media company may seem inconsequential, even infantile. However, the spat raises important questions about the relationship between the public, technology companies and the state, especially in a polarised America.
On Tuesday, Twitter attached a health warning to two tweets by Donald Trump about postal ballots, urging users to “get the facts”. Two days later, a furious Trump retaliated with an executive order threatening to curtail legal protections for social media companies. Twitter then upped the stakes by labelling a later Trump tweet about the Minneapolis riots as “glorifying violence”.
At first sight, the issues are straightforward. Twitter did not censor Trump’s tweets, but merely alerted readers to factual or ethical problems. Trump’s executive order, on the other hand, menaced free speech, threatening legal sanctions as retribution. Free speech for Trump seems to mean the right not to be criticised.
Behind all this, however, lie deeper questions about the regulation of social media and its role in society. Trump’s executive order targets section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. It’s an obscure piece of US law that is, as the campaigning group Electronic Frontier Foundation observes, “one of the most valuable tools for protecting freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet”.

Free speech for Trump seems to mean the right not to be criticised

Section 230 excludes online platforms from most liabilities for content published by others, while allowing them to provide “good faith” moderation of users’ comments. Both are crucial not just for Silicon Valley behemoths but for newspapers and bloggers and any online site with which users interact or on which they can post comments.
Twitter and Facebook are private companies but also, as the US supreme court has observed, serve as “the modern public square”. This makes them ideal tools for governments to, in the words of Daphne Keller, of Stanford University’s cyber policy centre, “launder state action” – that is, use them to enforce regulation usually in the state’s domain. European nations are very good at pressing tech giants to “voluntarily self-regulate”, for instance by censoring speech deemed offensive or controversial.
Protections in other countries including in Europe are not as robust as in America. That’s why Section 230 has long been a target for US politicians, both liberal and conservative. The Democrats’ Joe Biden has gone even further than Trump, calling for section 230 “immediately [to] be revoked”.
Trump’s threat to Twitter is blatant and serves his narrow political ends. But many US politicians want America to be more like European nations, more easily able to use tech companies as proxies for the state. The result will not be to tame Silicon Valley but to disempower the public and constrain its use of the online public square.

The idea that the little people should be scrutinised, but not politicians, leaves a bad taste in the mouth

Trump’s feud with Twitter also raises questions about how to deal with misinformation. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg distanced himself from Twitter by suggesting private companies should not be “arbiters of truth”. Except that Facebook already is. It boasts of “fighting the spread of false news” and ensuring that content declared by fact-checkers to be “false” is sanctioned. However, Facebook excludes politicians from its fact checking. The idea that the little people should be scrutinised, but not politicians, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
And yet, Zuckerberg has a point. In a polarised world, fact-checking itself can become a politicised process. As Covid-19 debates reveal, judgments about what is true and whom to trust are not straightforward, even in scientific and medical spheres. Twitter’s fact checking of Trump’s tweet was itself, as the tech magazine Wired observed, misleading. Fact-checkers, Wired pungently noted, “are often just as full of shit as the politicians they’re debunking”.
It’s not that lies should not be challenged, nor that there is no such thing as truth, nor yet that we should accept Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway’s insistence that lies are just “alternative facts”. It is rather that what people accept as “truth” depends partly on whose authority they are willing to trust. In a political climate in which trust is fractured, so, inevitably, are conceptions of truth and falsity.
Debunking lies, and holding politicians to account for their statements, is vital. The challenge we face, however, is primarily political, not factual or technological. That’s why the problem of misinformation seems so difficult to solve – there are no simple technological or factual fixes to deep-set political conundrums.
•Kenan Malik is an Observer columnist

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Brazil police raid 29 addresses in inquiry into rightwing fake news network | World news- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Brazilian police have raided addresses linked to some of Jair Bolsonaro’s most ardent online cheerleaders as part of an investigation into a fake news network investigators reportedly suspect could be linked to the president’s son.
The operation’s targets were an eclectic and influential cast of hardcore Bolsonaristas including a former Femen activist-turned-anti-abortion-militant; a comic and musician whose repertoire includes a sexually explicit JK Rowling parody called “Harry Fucker”; a gun-toting, communist-bashing congressman; a hard-right blogger; and a multimillionaire retail magnate famed for placing giant replicas of the Statue of Liberty outside his stores.
There was rejoicing among the president’s opponents and outrage among followers as federal police investigators executed 29 search warrants around Brazil as part of an inquiry into the alleged group and its financial backers.
Mobile phones and computers were reportedly seized in homes and offices in Brazil’s capital, Brasília, and five states.

Bolsonaro’s social media savvy son, Carlos Bolsonaro, attacked what he called an “unconstitutional, political and ideological” investigation. Last month one of Brazil’s top papers, the Folha de São Paulo, claimed police had identified the 37-year-old as one of the alleged key members of a “criminal fake news racket” engaged in threatening and defaming Brazilian authorities.
Filipe Martins, a top presidential adviser, tweeted: “Journalists, comedians and ordinary citizens who acted spontaneously are being treated like criminals for daring to express views that displeased the establishment.”
Another pro-Bolsonaro activist, Davy Albuquerque da Fonseca, complained: “This is open persecution of supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro. The nation is living through the darkest and most authoritarian period in its entire history.”
The pro-Bolsonaro website, Terça Livre, accused the federal police of “intimidation” and said phones and laptops had been seized from the vehicle of its founder, the blogger Allan dos Santos, after they raided its headquarters at 6.43am on Wednesday.
Opposition politicians hailed the raids as a major blow to the alleged Bolsonarian fake news machine.
Marcelo Freixo, from the Socialism and Liberty party, tweeted: “The Bolsonaro family … has built a fake news network that operates from within the presidential palace and the offices of congressional allies. This is public money being used to commit crimes.”
Douglas Garcia, a Bolsonarian congressman who was among the targets, painted the operation as a leftwing assault.
“You want to silence the voices of conservatives on social networks … You want to criminalize other people’s freedom of opinion – the freedom the internet gives people … But you will not succeed,” said Garcia, whose office in São Paulo’s parliament was raided.

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Use of Cloud Collaboration Tools Surge Across the World and So Do Attacks | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed companies to adapt to new government-mandated restrictions on workforce movement around the world. The immediate response has been a rapid adoption and integration of cloud services, particularly cloud-based tools such as Microsoft Office 365, Slack and other video conferencing platforms like Zoom.
A new report by security firm McAfee shows that hackers are responding to this mass migration to these platforms with an increased focus on abusing cloud account credentials.
After analyzing cloud usage data that was collected between January and April, from over 30-million enterprise users of its MVISION cloud security monitoring platform, the company estimates a 50% growth in adoption of cloud services across all industries.
Some industries, however, saw a much bigger spike–for example manufacturing with 144% and education with 114%.

The use rate of certain collaboration and videoconferencing tools has been particularly high. Cisco Webex usage has increased by 600%, Zoom by 350%, Microsoft Teams by 300% and Slack by 200%. Again, manufacturing and education ranked at the top.
While this rise in the adoption of cloud services is understandable and, some would argue, a good thing for productivity in light of the forced work-from-home situation, it has also introduced security risks. McAfee’s data shows that traffic from unmanaged devices to enterprise cloud accounts doubled.
“There’s no way to recover sensitive data from an unmanaged device, so this increased access could result in data loss events if security teams aren’t controlling cloud access by device type,” states McAfee.
Cloud threats increase
CSO writes that attackers have taken notice of this rapid adoption of cloud services and are trying to exploit the situation. McAfee reports that the number of external threats targeting cloud services increased by 630% over the same period, with the greatest concentration on collaboration platforms.
In the report, McAfee split suspicious login attempts and access into two categories: excessive usage from anomalous location and suspicious superhuman. Both have seen a similar surge and growth pattern over the time period analyzed.
In terms of excessive usage from anomalous locations, this category is for successful logins from locations that are unusual given the organization’s profile, followed by the user accessing large quantities of data or performing a high number of privileged tasks.
In terms of the suspicious superhuman category, this is for logins by the same user from two geographically distant locations over a short period of time – for example, if the same user logs into one service from one country and then minutes later access service while using an IP address from a different country.
The top ten sources for external attacks against enterprise cloud accounts by IP address location have been Thailand, USA, China, India, Brazil, Russia, Laos, Mexico, New Caledonia and Vietnam.
“Many of these attacks are likely opportunistic, essentially ‘spraying’ cloud accounts with access attempts using stolen credentials,” the McAfee researchers said. “However, several prominent industries are often targeted by external threat actors–in particular, financial services. These targeted attacks are often found to have a source in either China, Iran or Russia.”
Credential Stuffing attacks on the rise
The frequency of credential stuffing attacks, where criminals use lists of leaked or stolen username and password combinations to gain access to accounts, has grown significantly in recent years. Often the used credentials come from third-party data breaches and the attackers attempt to exploit the bad but still common practice of password reuse.
In a report released this year, security and content delivery company Akamai revealed that it observed 85.4 billion credential abuse attacks against organizations worldwide between December 2017 and November 2019. Of those, 473 million attacks targeted the financial sector.
Edited by Luis Monzon
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5 Innovative Start-ups Making Offices More Secure In A Post COVID World- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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The month of June weighs heavy on safety protocols as the lockdown will be lifting. In a phased manner, offices will resume operations with an entirely new set of priorities. Regular sanitisation of common areas before shifts and staggered lunch and break timings while maintaining social distancing are among the norms in a revised list of standard operating procedures in workplaces has been proposed by India Inc.  
Contactless processes and safe distancing measures becoming the new normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, it is critical for enterprises to execute preventive measures and stay sustainable as digital transformation has emerged as the silver lining. 
Some innovative start-ups are working diligently in making office spaces safer:

        Robot disinfectors: Asimov Robotics, a start-up based in Kerala, has deployed robots at entrances to office buildings and other public places to dispense hand sanitiser and deliver public health messages about the virus. We might see more robots being deployed in workplaces to do the things that are risky for human beings now- physical contact. 
        Social distancing adherence: Start-ups such as Marut Dronetech have partnered with state governments to test the use of drones to monitor adherence to social distancing rules. These can be utilized across corporate offices to ensure at crowded areas like canteens, main-gates etc., social distancing is adhered
        Contactless visitor management at offices: VAMS Global, a Mumbai based start-up has come up with the world’s first Visitor Management Software with temperature scanner and mask detection – VAMS SafeGuard which uses AI to allow entry of visitors only who are complying to all COVID protection measures.
      Safer Park Management: The ESR India app enables safer park management, digital execution of service requests, and has integrated features to combat the spread of coronovirus. The app enables contactless park entry with a digital submission of mandatory health declaration and thermal scanning at the entrance.
      Employee screening: Jumpree WorkSafe by Smarten Spaces will ensure every employee, tenant or visitor is pre-screened for travel and health, tracking every entry and exit along with temperature readings. Other features include encouraging and maintaining social distancing measures at dining areas, monitoring and managing the provision of critical supplies and increasing the availability of resources and improving communication with employees both working remotely and in the workplace.

The first priority now: Safety…
The world we will enter now will be placing safety as its top-most priority. While companies need to work again to earn money, they will still be careful about maintaining social distancing. The importance of technology is realized in great magnitude across sectors. Innovative startups might be the few ones surviving this pandemic led economic slump. Innovative startups will survive anything. 

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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How did the Covidsafe app go from being vital to almost irrelevant? | World news – Blog – 10 minute

It was sold as the key to unlocking restrictions – like sunscreen to protect Australians from Covid-19 – but as the country begins to open up, the role of the Covidsafe app in the recovery seems to have dropped to marginal at best.
“This is an important protection for a Covid-safe Australia,” the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said in late April. “I would liken it to the fact that if you want to go outside when the sun is shining, you have got to put sunscreen on.”
“This is the same thing … If you want to return to a more liberated economy and society, it is important that we get increased numbers of downloads when it comes to the Covidsafe app … This is the ticket to ensuring that we can have eased restrictions.”
The health minister, Greg Hunt, tweeted that it was the key to being allowed to go back to watching football.

Greg Hunt (@GregHuntMP)
Want to go to the footy?Download the app.
Link – https://t.co/vn3NoeQpal pic.twitter.com/qhwuz9kQAY
May 2, 2020

Yet nearly a month since launch, the contact tracing app has barely been used – just one person has been reported to have been identified using data from it.
And the language from public officials has been toned down. No longer is it the key to freedoms, but an add-on to existing contact tracing methods, to work in concert with social distancing rules and continued testing to keep a lid on outbreaks.
So how did it go from being the key to allowing Australians to get back to the footy to being barely relevant?
The big sell
The Covidsafe app keeps a record of everyone a user has been in contact with in the past 21 days, using bluetooth technology. In truth it has never been more than an addition to manual contact tracing methods, designed to catch infections from random contacts, such as people on the bus or in a queue.
But the government has been selling it as much more than that.

It set a target of 40% of the Australian population using the app for it to be effective. While close to six million Australians now have the app, the number of new downloads has declined in the past few weeks.
No actual number was tied to the 40% figure, but based on estimations of the number of Australians with smartphones, it is now about 1.5m under that target.
The problem with expressing the target as a percentage of the population is not every Australian has a smartphone, not every person with a smartphone will be able to download the app, and not everyone with a smartphone will want to download the app or will be energised enough.
The government’s task was to convince as many people who fall into the last category as possible to sign up.
It started with a directive from Hunt setting out what can and cannot be done with the data. Only health officials in the states can access the data, and you can’t be forced to download it.
Legislation soon followed, and the government set out protections for the data far beyond many of the protections for other personal data held by the government.
An advertising blitz across TV, radio and billboards has encouraged people to download the app. McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks and other retailers sent notifications through their own apps to encourage people to download it.
Australians’ attitudes to the app have been mixed at best. Essential polling earlier this month revealed just over half the population (55%) believed the app would limit the spread of coronavirus, and just under half (48%) believed it would speed up easing of restrictions.
A series of Dynata online surveys conducted on behalf of researchers at the University of Melbourne reported Australians were more supportive of using telecommunications metadata to track close contacts (79%) than they were of downloading an app (69.8%).
By the second survey, the support for downloading had dropped to 64%.
Prof Simon Dennis, director of the complex human data hub in the Melbourne school of psychological sciences, said the drop was probably influenced by the public debate over the app in April.
The other factor, he said, was that lower case numbers meant people felt less at risk of infection and less interested in downloading the app.

“People’s perception of risk is definitely dropping,” he said.
This week Victoria became the first state to report using the data after a person who tested positive was using the app and consented to upload their data. The contact tracer found one other person not already deemed a close contact, and called them to get tested and to quarantine until the results came back.
In part, the app’s lack of utility thus far is a good thing. The chief health officer for New South Wales, Dr Kerry Chant, said this week that despite the state experiencing “teething problems” with accessing data from the app, there had been no need to because all the new cases had generally been from returned travellers or people who were already isolating and had no unidentified close contacts.
And the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, downplayed issues with the app saying manual contact tracing was key.
“Two of the reasons NSW has been able to reduce the number of cases so much is firstly the number of tests we’ve done … but also the contact tracing we’ve done,” she said.
“Yes the app is important in speeding up the process, but please know that process happens regardless.”
Plagued by technical issues
Where the app has faltered has been in transparency. Developers have reported difficulty communicating with the Digital Transformation Agency about problems.
Early on developers noted the iPhone version would not be able to exchange Bluetooth handshakes with other devices unless it was running on the screen – incredibly impractical for users.
The government initially denied this, refused to answer questions about it, and only once, before the Covid-19 senate committee, did the agencys chief executive, Randall Brugeaud, admit the Bluetooth function suffered when the app wasn’t on screen.
“What we can say is the quality of the Bluetooth connectivity for phones that have the app installed running in the foreground is very good,” he said. “And it progressively deteriorates and the quality of the connection is not as good as you get to a point where the phone is locked and the app is running in the background.”
That, in part, has been addressed by updates quietly released in the past week, but issues still persist, and will never truly be resolved unless the federal government implements functions released by Apple and Google this week.
They move the Bluetooth beacon process to the operating system layer where it is easier to coordinate with other apps. Until then, the iPhone version will not function as effectively as the Android version.
The Apple-Google API is being evaluated by the government but according to a Melbourne cryptographer, Vanessa Teague, it would require a major overhaul to the app.
When a user tests positive for coronavirus and agrees to upload their data for contact tracing, the contact tracer is sent a long list of everyone that person has been in contact with for the past 21 days to call and tell them to get tested.

Under the Apple and Google version, the data being uploaded is just a set of keys that user has had for the past 21 days. Other users’ phones play a digital game of bingo, checking in with the national server to see if they have a match for a contact in the past 21 days.
If they get an alert they can then get in touch with a health official and go through the same process once testing positive.
Health experts are less in favour of this model because it makes it harder to spot outbreaks and is harder to follow up for close contacts, but privacy advocates insist it is the most secure.
Teague said in order to get the Bluetooth improvements the government could, in effect, change the engine of the app to move to the Apple-Google API, but it would be a lot of work.
“It wouldn’t look that much different to the users – it would still keep the cute, you know, Anzac Day-themed interface, but they would have to completely rearrange the underlying cryptographic notification mechanism in order to use the API,” Teague said.
“You can’t just improve the Bluetooth of this underlying centralised mechanism they’ve got.”
That update, and the 21-day timeframe for recording contacts would mean there would be a period where the app would have to run both the old and new version.
“I don’t think it’s an unsolvable mess, but basically you have to have both versions of the app running,” Teague said.
“They don’t interoperate at all. Everyone running it would have to run both versions for a few weeks.”

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The game that ate the world: 40 facts on Pac-Man’s 40th birthday | Games – Blog – 10 minute

It was on this day in 1980 that one of gaming’s most iconic characters made his debut. To celebrate, here are 40 facts about the ravenous yellow circle and his proud, pill-popping legacy …
1. Pac-Man was created by game designer Toru Iwatani – he was just 24 at the time. The idea for the character came to him when he removed a slice from a pizza.
2. He was also partly inspired by the onomatopoeic phrase paku paku meaning “chomp chomp” and the kanji symbol for the word taberu meaning “to eat”.
3. In 2010, Iwatani told Wired that Pac-Man particularly targeted female players. “When you think about things women like, you think about fashion, or fortune-telling, or food or dating boyfriends. So I decided to theme the game around ‘eating’.” There is absolutely nothing problematic about this statement …
4. To make the game more kawaii (“cute”), Iwatani designed the ghosts in bright colours and gave them large doe-eyes.
5. The ghosts are called Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde and they each have their own personalities based on AI routines. Blinky constantly chases Pac-Man, Pinky attempts to ambush him, Inky is randomised depending on Pac-Man’s position and Clyde will get close to the player then attempt to flee to the bottom left corner, potentially cutting off escape routes.

Arcade adventure … Pac-Man. Photograph: Adam Berry/Getty Images
6. The idea of eating a power pill to give Pac-Man super strength came partly from the cartoon Popeye and his love of spinach, and partly from the Japanese concept of kokoro (“spirit”) or life force. It’s considered one of the first examples of a “power up” in video game history.
7. Pac-Man manufacturer Namco installed the first machine in a movie theatre in Shibuya, Tokyo, on 22 May 1980.
8. The game was only a moderate success until its blockbusting US launch the following October.
9. It was originally called Puck Man, but the US distributor Midway was worried that the word Puck could easily be modified by mischievous vandals into something ruder. Hence, Pac-Man.
10. The game features short animated sequences between levels, showing Pac-Man being chased by the ghosts. This was one of the first examples of a non-interactive video game “cutscene”.
11. Martin Amis was a fan of the game and in his 1982 book Invasion of the Space Invaders claimed to have spent weeks in “a Pac-Man-fed stupor […] unwilling and unable to think about anything else”.
12. Within a year of Pac-Man’s launch, 100,000 units had been sold and 250m games were being played every week. Pac-Man became gaming’s first marketable mascot, with licensed merchandise including lunchboxes, joke books, T-shirts, board games, pyjamas and, for the romantic gamer, Valentine cards.

Inspired by pizza … Toru Iwatani, creator of Pac-Man. Photograph: Elvis Gonzalez/EPA
13. A strategy guide to the game, Mastering Pac-Man by professional blackjack player Ken Uston, sold more than 1m copies.
14. With its simplified maze and blocky visuals, the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man is widely considered one of the worst arcade-to-home console conversions of all time. Although it sold 7m copies, the game was so wretched it has been widely blamed for the 1983 video game crash, alongside the similarly poor title, ET.
15. Japanese toy manufacturer Tomy made a famously beautiful, handheld Pac-Man game in the shape of an enormous yellow blob with an LCD display. This advert for the device is quite a rush.
16. The tribute song Pac-Man Fever by artists Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia reached number nine in the US charts in March 1982. An album of video-game-inspired songs followed. It was not good.
17. The game’s distinctive electronic music and sound effects were also an inspiration to early hip-hop pioneers. Notable examples include Jonzun Crew’s Pack Jam and Newcleus’s Jam on Revenge (The Wikki-Wikki Song).
18. The game gave us this Marcus Brigstocke joke: “If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.”
19. In 1981, Japanese manufacturer Shoei released a terrible “erotic” version of Pac-Man called Streaking. It was later heavily featured in the movie Joysticks, which belonged to the 1980s teen sex comedy genre popularised by Porky’s. Here is the movie trailer. Please don’t watch it.
20. The movie also featured preview footage of Super Pac-Man, Namco’s official sequel to the original game.
21. In a 1982 episode of the sitcom Taxi, Louie (Danny DeVito) installs a Pac-Man cabinet in the garage and Jim (Christopher Lloyd) becomes addicted to the game. The scene is effectively a how-to guide and an advert for Pac-Man rolled into one.

22. Pac-Man was a major element in the appalling Adam Sandler comedy Pixels, with Toru Iwatani getting a cameo as an arcade repairman. But let’s just forget about that, shall we?
23. In 1999, Billy Mitchell became the first person to obtain a perfect Pac-Man score of 3,333,360, eating every dot, power pill, ghost and bonus on every level without losing a single life. However, Mitchell was later accused of cheating by video game records supervisor Twin Galaxies. The record was equalled by David Race in 2012.
24. It is impossible to score higher than that because of a bug in the game that turns the screen to gibberish on the 256th screen.
25. The success of Pac-Man inspired US distributor Bally Midway to create a series of mostly identical sequels: Ms Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, Jr Pac-Man, Baby Pac-Man (which added a mini pinball table under the monitor) and Professor Pac-Man.
26. Professor Pac-Man was a quiz game depicting Pac-Man in a mortar board and glasses. It was not a success.
27. In 1982, Hanna-Barbera produced a Pac-Man cartoon series. It features Pac-Man, Ms Pac-Man, their child Pac-Baby and their cat Sour Puss as they attempt to elude the evil Mezmaron who is obsessed with power pills. The intro sequence is a work of hallucinogenic brilliance.
28. In his book Trigger Happy, writer Steven Poole suggested Pac-Man was a precursor to survivor horror games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill due to its confined, maze-like map, supernatural enemies and emphasis on evasion.
29. In corporate parlance, “the Pac-Man defence” is a strategy in which a company targeted for a hostile takeover attempts to turn the tables and purchase the acquirer.
30. Ms Pac-Man is widely considered a better game than Pac-Man, due to the more varied maze design and improved ghost AI.
31. However, it is most remembered for the image on the side of the game cabinet, which depicts Ms Pac-Man with high heels, red lipstick and fluttering eyelashes, making her the decade’s most bizarre and confusing sex symbol. And, bearing in mind we’re talking about the 80s, that’s really saying something.

Unlikely sex symbol … Ms Pac-Man
32. In the Friends episode The One Where Joey Dates Rachel, Phoebe gives Chandler and Monica a pristine Ms Pac-Man cabinet as a late wedding present – a generous gift as it would have cost about $2,500.
33. Namco has regularly attempted to update and expand the Pac-Man concept. Sometimes this has worked (scrolling platformers Pac-Land and Pac in Time, and the isometrically viewed Pac-Mania); sometimes it really hasn’t (risible party game Pac-Man Fever and mystifying off-road driving sim Pac-Man World Rally).
34. Pac-Man has also appeared as a playable guest character in many other games, including Everybody’s Golf, Mario Kart Arcade GP and Street Fighter X Tekken. He stars as the world’s cutest racing car in Ridge Racer Type 4.
35. Swiss tech company ClearSpace is developing a satellite capable of orbiting Earth and gobbling up space junk. The project leader nicknamed it “the Pac-Man system”.
36. In 2004, New York University students created a real-world version of Pac-Man entitled Pac-Manhattan, in which a player dressed as Pac-Man had to run around the city avoiding students dressed as ghosts. The game used mobile phone GPS signals to track their positions.
37. French street artist Invader has created several mosaic works featuring the Pac-Man character and ghosts, notably in Paris and Bilbao.
38. For his spring/summer 2009 collection, fashion designer Giles Deacon dressed the models in gigantic Pac-Man helmets and had dots painted along the runway.
39. In 2012, Pac-Man was one of 14 video games brought into the collection at MoMA in New York and displayed in its architecture and design gallery.
40. Toru Iwatani returned to Pac-Man in 2007, co-designing the brilliant Xbox title Pac-Man Championship Edition, which adds a time limit and an endlessly transforming maze layout. It was a fitting end to his Pac-Man odyssey.

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Will regional agency hubs in APAC still exist in a post-coronavirus world?- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

As ad spend is squeezed globally, agencies are having to run redundancy and furlough schemes but in Asia Pacific, it’s the hubs that could be hit the hardest.
As the economic impact of the pandemic is realised, one of the areas to be cut first is the multiple layers of management and coordination, which some believe led to bloating inside major holding groups.
As many businesses move to a model of having global brand platforms that are implemented locally, agencies are being pressured to remove operational duplication.
It was revealed late last month (30 April) that Omnicom Group’s BBDO is closing its office in Malaysia as it prepares to exit the market over the next three months. The move will affect 21 staff. The creative agency is also reducing its Hong Kong presence to a small regional team that will concentrate on Beijing and Shanghai in Greater China.
Meanwhile, prior to the pandemic, Dentsu Aegis Network ran multiple rounds of redundancies, which it said at the time was to “enable markets in the region to react to changing client needs with speed and agility”.
As the pandemic further squeezes the marketing industry and travel is limited, the relevance of hubs, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, is being questioned.
Hattie Marsden, director at SI Partners tells Tempemail that from an account management perspective, agencies will continue to use Singapore as the key hub for South East Asia (SEA) as it is where the budgets for the region’s major brands are typically held.
India is the one exception to this, and as such agencies will also continue to hold and look to grow their presence. She believes Hong Kong will continue to be seen as a gateway to China by European or American headquartered agencies looking to access China, but those that are confident will increasingly jump straight to just having a Shanghai, Beijing or even Shenzhen presence.
“Within SEA, agencies will continue to look at which markets outside of Singapore they can use for delivery hubs. This isn’t a new concept, but one that will be further accelerated by the downward pressures on marketing budgets,” she explains
“Agencies are increasingly embracing Thailand as a potential creative hub due to the quality of creative international talent, whilst India, Philippines and Myanmar are the countries that we hear most regularly cited for building hubs in marketing technology implementation and analytics.”
Darren Woolley, the founder and global chief executive of TrinityP3, observes from the West, Asia traditionally looks like Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo to holding companies.
He says a few years ago, the marketing management consultancy assessed hub locations in SEA for a client and based on considerations such as cost of living, ease of transport, talent accessibility and government regulations, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines offered better options than the traditional hubs they were considering.
“It is interesting that in the USA, many successful creative agencies operate outside the traditional hubs of New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Yet in APAC, most agency networks stay within the traditional hubs,” he notes.
Meanwhile, Stuart McLennan, senior vice president for APAC at Rakuten Advertising points out agency presence in any market has always been driven by client demand.
“A holding group expansion into APAC is usually driven by US and European multi-national companies wanting to enter Asia with local expertise on the ground. If we see more clients choose to relocate their headquarters to alternative countries in APAC, you can expect agencies to follow,” he explains.
“For example, during the Huawei APAC media pitch in 2019, there was a requirement to base a significant portion of agency staff in Malaysia to be close to the Huawei regional HQ.”
At Interpublic’s R/GA in APAC, Tuomas Peltoniemi, executive vice president, managing director for APAC says the agency firmly believed in a hub strategy before the Covid-19 pandemic, and it believes this trend is going to accelerate now.
He argues that for specialist capabilities especially, it makes sense to be able to provide clients around the region with talent and capabilities that may not be available in all markets.
“The key is in ensuring these hubs are able to understand local culture, business and language sensitivities while providing capabilities that add disproportionate value to clients,” he explains.
“This strategy favours hubs in cities with a multi-cultural talent base, such as Singapore and Shanghai, as well as in large domestic markets where local talent is essential, for example, Tokyo.”
Impact on Covid-19 on agency APAC hubs
Singapore will enter into a recession this year because of the blow from the pandemic, resulting in job losses and lower wages, with “significant uncertainty” over how long and intense the downturn will be.
In Hong Kong, as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions start to ease, protests against Beijing’s moves to consolidate control over the city have started back up again, as protesters take to public places to demonstrate.
Singapore’s current financial situation is on par with the pressures that are impacting the whole world. For Hong Kong, an added factor is that China is upgrading the infrastructure and technology in Shenzhen to reduce its reliance on Hong Kong. In both cities, the cost of living is a real factor for talent.
However, McLennan does not expect Singapore to relinquish its status as a regional hub any time soon, even though the country has placed restrictions on the availability of working visas as the country.
This means there will not be a short-to-medium-term change in where agencies choose to base their regional hub teams.
“The appealing nature of the city, the stability of government, world-class travel connections and talent availability should see it retain its status as the gateway to APAC for agencies and clients alike,” he explains.
“Holding companies had already become overly complex and too slow to react to changing consumer and client demands, so I doubt this would have impacted decision making around future hubs. The location of future hubs will be dictated by changing demands of clients, the core revenue base of any regional holding company hub.”
He adds: “That being said, I do expect agencies to focus on the development of centres of operational excellence, reducing onshore costs in high-cost locations such as Singapore and Australia.”
Agreeing, Marsden points out some agencies have had some strong trading during the immediate months of the global pandemic in March and April as the need for reactive work added to committed spend.
In addition, she says Singapore has implemented a wave of Covid-19 support measures and the government is working to be transparent about the way forward for its economy, engaging the workforce in conversations about wage reductions and the need to pivot the economy for continued prosperity.
In the shorter term, she predicts wage-based subsidies are particularly helpful for the agency model, given that between 55-75% of costs are typically on talent, but undoubtedly there will come a crunch when subsidies end.
“Singapore will continue to be a hub because of its history and the ease of doing business,” she says. “Despite its many benefits, talent in Singapore has always come at a premium – as salaries drop in response to the crisis, this may make Singapore even more accessible and attractive to businesses looking to build hubs.”
“Businesses will be attracted to the economies that are rebuilding fastest and where government support is best – and Singapore may be a good example of both of these things.”
Peltoniemi also believes the current trend creates a scenario where more talent will be available than usual because a lot of the layoffs and furloughs are driven by commercial realities, companies are having to let go of talent they normally would not. This will support companies who are looking to centralise and employ a hub strategy and provide a way to leverage the larger availability of quality talent in building the hubs.
“We believe in following a talent-first strategy in looking at where hubs should be built and launched. For example, Sydney is a hotbed for design talent so it makes sense for us to have a brand and design hub in Sydney,” he explains.
“We have recently opened a technology hub in Indonesia because we feel that we have access to a large talent pool of progressive technology talent there. If the role of a hub is to service multiple markets, a talent-first strategy makes more sense than following other market conditions.”
With predictions of borders not opening for another 6-12 months at least post Covid-19, Woolley points out one of the benefits of no travel for regional teams is the amount of time and cost of savings, as both marketers and agencies embrace video conferencing tools like Zoom.
He says it will be telling if the industry reverts to jumping on flights every week or continues to use technology more often.
“When borders reopen, we will all be very skilled at communicating virtually. This could increase the number of possible hub locations, as currently, the main ones are also the ones with the best flight access, including Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong etc,” he explains.
Ultimately, Ben Poole, managing director for APAC at Reprise Hub believes location criteria should not be bound by recent events as building and scaling hubs is not a simple task, and requires a long term plan. There are many factors to consider, such as infrastructure, time zone advantages, talent availability, speed to scale, and language capability.
“India and the Philippines are attractive from a cost point of view. Singapore has strengths as a regional client consulting centre, with strong strategic talent. I don’t see China being a hub that serves other countries, given the uniqueness of its ecosystem,” he explains.
“Hong Kong has a good creative talent base, so I would not rule out it growing to serve mainland China and Taiwan in the future. We will also see hubs increasingly solving for language, to be able to serve markets such as South Korea and Japan.”
Agency APAC hubs post Covid-19
The pandemic has shone a spotlight on those building successful, sustainable businesses with contemporary propositions, versus those who were struggling to transition away from more traditional services.
“There was an existing need for many of the traditional agencies to shift, and the pandemic has highlighted the existing need. Who emerges triumphant will be both sector-specific and client portfolio dependent,” explains Marsden.
“The pandemic is going to, and has already, forced everyone to accelerate the transformation into digital channels and test how far they truly are on that journey. Many of the scaled agencies are more actively looking at buying-in skills from what we would consider as business digital transformation assets and forcing even greater moves into the consultancy sphere.”
With marketers demanding more and agencies work with less revenue, even before Covid-19, Woolley says marketers will be looking to do more with even lesser revenue now.
Unfortunately, as the place to squeeze is their supply chain, this is their agencies. Therefore, holding companies will be looking for ways to reduce costs and maximise the productivity of their resources at hand.
“Having duplication across a multitude of markets does not make sense if you can hub core talent and infrastructure and run service offices in each of the markets where your clients are operating from,” he explains.
“Therefore the use of video conferences, minimising travel and maximising the agency resources will be key. As long as the client is willing to adjust their expectations and demands to deliver this low-cost advertising world.”
Taking an optimistic view, Laura Quigley, the managing director for SEA at Integral Ad Science says holding groups have a long track record of navigating successfully through uncertain economic periods due to the strength of their talent and operating models.
She points out while they are definitely impacted, they are being as transparent as possible about its people and policy-related decisions. They are also participating in various global government subsidy programs to reduce the impact on its workforce and moving people to growth areas of the business to make sure that the teams are pivoting towards newer creative ways of executing.
“There will be great learnings for the post-pandemic world and we have already seen the importance of creativity and innovation during the pandemic. Businesses that have been able to come up with ways to deliver services virtually (like many healthcare providers have done) or quickly shift to new products (like Mercedes F1 that have shifted from making racing cars to innovative breathing aids) have been able to better weather the storm,” she explains.
“In a post-coronavirus world, human creativity is going to be essential we will need to invent, dream up new products and ways of working. Virtual and gig economy is only going to grow post coronavirus, and people will be working in more fluent teams where people are taking the lead at different times. Professionals with strong skills in leadership, including how to bring out the best and inspire teams as well as encourage collaboration, will be in demand.”
She adds: “Lifelong and virtual learning will become the way forward and today, it doesn’t require years of study or hefty loans to build up your skillset to be prepared for a post-coronavirus world. There are endless free and open online courses available that will help you improve your skills.”
However, as someone who recently left a holding company, McLennan says he is concerned about their future.
The former media and performance lead for operational excellence at Dentsu Aegis Network points out these businesses were already facing incredible challenges to their existing business model prior to Covid-19, but the current situation will be accelerating the demise of the holding group in their current format.
His prediction is grim, “We will see the break up of at least one of the holding groups in the next two years as these businesses have not adapted quickly enough to changing consumer behaviour nor have they been strong enough as a collective to protect their value to clients”.
APAC has always presented the agency model with challenges, thanks to fragmentation and vastly different opportunities for scale in each market. But the businesses that can play this to their advantage and use local talent in agile ways will not only survive, but thrive.

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Reframing the pandemic: optimism in a fragile world- Tempemail – 10 minute

It is easy enough, during such a physically and mentally challenging atmosphere as lockdown, to be overwhelmed by the potential ramifications of our current situation. Predictions of a global recession, travel embargoes until 2021, soaring unemployment and long-term enforced self-isolating are almost as terrifying as the virus itself. By now, most of us will know someone who has fought off coronavirus, and many will know someone who lost their lives to it.
Communities are coming together in a manner that hasn’t been seen since the Second World War – caring for, helping and entertaining each other – and in doing so, they are slowly patching-up the well-worn fabric of modern society. With planes and travellers having been grounded, the planet is healing at an unprecedented rate as carbon emissions plummet and nature is left undisturbed.
Opera houses, museums and theatres have thrown open their virtual doors to allow people to get their cultural fix online. Likewise, high-end restaurants have started offering home delivery, expert chefs are hosting live cook-a-longs, nightclubs encourage us to join their 48-hour virtual raves, and sporting celebrities are keeping us fit from the comfort of our own living rooms. Contrary to any marketing strategies of the past, companies have started to set-up initiatives to actively stop people coming out to visit their institutions and use their services, and to instead help them stay inside.
This sudden necessity to stay home has provided people with time to stop, reflect and readjust. Up until two months ago, ours was a society obsessed with creating content – being seen to do things and be places. Now, there is a new emphasis on doing less and making the place you already are better.
The home front
This isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon. Counter-balancing modern society’s long working hours and social media addictions, people have simultaneously – perhaps unsurprisingly – started to focus more on ‘home’ in recent years. Much of the population has rediscovered the simple pleasures of gardening, baking and meditation, while the concept of hygge has spread far beyond Scandinavian shores and become a global obsession.
Similarly, it seems that the younger generation increasingly chooses to shirk nightclubs in favour of Netflix marathons on the sofa. This investment in nurturing the domestic space couldn’t have come at a better time, now that we are all prohibited from spending time anywhere else.
Likewise, the shift from needing to be busy, social, and well-travelled (and, equally important, being seen to be all these things) to now needing to adjust to a quieter, less active life is both beneficial to us (mentally, physically, spiritually, and economically) and to our planet. Where travel, consumerism, and Instagrammable experiences were once deemed aspirational, they are now beginning to be deemed as frivolous and almost crass. Restraint has become the new buzzword. This pandemic seems to have inspired more altruistic aspirations – focusing instead on communities, social improvement and the environment.
The majority of us have understood for some time how seriously our lifestyle choices were jeopardising our societal bonds, the planet and our mental and physical health, but to turn the tide on these issues had seemed too gargantuan and overwhelming a prospect to reasonably contemplate. However, perhaps the biggest surprise of the pandemic has been just how quickly these issues have started to be reversed, and how easily we have all adjusted to the new state of play.
Avoiding the old normal
To what extent society will continue to progress in this direction following the pandemic remains to be seen. People may – once the initial threat of Covid-19 has diminished – choose to shrug-off the potential for a seismic social and environmental shift in favour of ‘getting back to normal’ as quickly as possible. But many would argue that therein lies the problem: our ‘normal’ was the problem in the first place.
The last two months have given people a glimpse of a world reimagined: a simpler world where community comes first, and people have the time and space to appreciate things more. With no access to restaurants, galleries or the high street, our daily walk has become our new indulgence. Having the opportunity to rediscover the area we live in, and to stop and talk to neighbours or local shop workers (albeit at a two metre distance) has been hugely restorative. It is once again becoming normal to smile at, talk to, and care about those that surround us, and in the process, we are building a more compassionate, responsible and resilient community.
This can also be seen in the rush to support local producers and businesses – ordering food from farms whose income usually comes solely from (now shut) restaurants, and flowers direct from growers who are no longer able to sell to big hotels and events spaces. The ‘shop local’ hashtag has become so commonplace in recent years that it’s easy to overlook the significance of the plea, but we must continue to actively support our local economies, now more than ever.
Going forward, it is vital that we remain realistic as well as optimistic about the threat of coronavirus. After all, we currently have no idea what a potential second or third wave of the virus could look like, and how it could further affect us personally and globally. However, for the moment we can take some comfort in the news that the curve continues to flatten, and restrictions are gradually being eased, so let’s allow ourselves a moment to feel hope rather than fear.
This experience has softened us, humbled us and humanised us, and in doing so has offered us the chance to create a new kind of future. There might never again be so powerful an opportunity in our lifetimes to press the reset button. Let’s not take that opportunity for granted.
Nick Steel, founder, HarrimanSteel

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Tempemail , Tempmail Temp email addressess (10 minutes emails)– When you want to create account on some forum or social media, like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, TikTok you have to enter information about your e-mail box to get an activation link. Unfortunately, after registration, this social media sends you dozens of messages with useless information, which you are not interested in. To avoid that, visit this Temp mail generator: tempemail.co and you will have a Temp mail disposable address and end up on a bunch of spam lists. This email will expire after 10 minute so you can call this Temp mail 10 minute email. Our service is free! Let’s enjoy!

A bold new marketing strategy for a brave new world- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Across Europe, countries are seeing lockdown restrictions lifted and some semblance of ‘normal life’ is starting to resume. What a relief! For many business owners, this means kickstarting your operations and prospecting once more, leaving one vital question to be answered: are you ready and what is your plan?
Currently, gone is any focus on profiteering – instead, companies are connecting with their clients on a more personal level and are genuinely helping those in need. This is something that brands must be careful not to simply snap out of as lockdown is eased – a return to normal too quickly will look at best confusing and at worst completely disingenuous.
Marketing after Covid-19
Have you been hiding? The first thing you must address is your current brand presence. Have you been communicating frequently with your clients, your prospects and your community? Or have you been hiding, not knowing how to react, thus allowing your brand presence to fade as the world copes with this crisis? If you were scared, now is the time to be brave. Ease back into your comms and write your first post now.
With so many businesses facing financial uncertainty, your fans may think that your company has not survived, or may simply have forgotten about you in the chaos. Make sure they know you are still here and how you are approaching the “new normal.”
Beware, this situation changes so fast that without staying informed you can easily end up communicating something that is no longer true. It should go without saying that you don’t want to propagate fake news, so keeping on top of the Covid-19 situation and its effects on your industry should be your number one priority. Breed confidence, but stay truthful and aware.
You also need to remember that coming out the pandemic your clients and customers will be in very different positions. Marketing after Covid-19 doesn’t mean that you must avoid talking about your products – just tread carefully. You could try adding extra value to your normal offering, subtly acknowledging that times have been very tough; why not offer free delivery of your goods, or provide risk-free cancellation on holiday bookings?
Lastly, although lockdown restrictions are starting to ease this is only the beginning, with many set to work from home for months to come and many social establishments such as bars and restaurants reportedly staying closed for the meantime. This means that digital will remain the best way to capture attention and grow your client base – here’s how to do it.
Digital advertising
At our digital marketing agency Relevance, we have seen average cost per click (what you pay to get somebody onto your website) depreciating rapidly since January 2020, falling by around 50% each month from January through to April. After watching Google & co’s CPC pricing escalating over the past 20 years it is welcome news for advertisers to see advertising is actually getting cheaper. Did I just say that? It is not only for search, but it is also for paid social, programmatic and direct buys from publications. We are in a buyer’s market at last.
We have also noticed that advertiser search impression share has been rising at an average of 20% per month since January 2020, for clients who have continued to advertise. If you haven’t already, now is the time to take advantage of this, immediately gaining increased site traffic and conversions without any need to increase budget. If you pulled all ad spend during the outbreak, you still have the chance to benefit and at a great return. Just make sure your ads, and landing pages are providing empathy and of course relevant solutions to their needs.
Companies would be smart to target local during this time, with travel restrictions in many regions meaning that your clients will likely remain within their own country. Granular, location-based targeting in postcode areas is often recommended for brands, but a key change could be that settings on Facebook and LinkedIn are changed from ‘travelling through’ to ‘residing in’, reflecting the fact that many individuals may remain in their own homes for the foreseeable future. However, as restrictions become more relaxed you might bet on the great escape to the countryside, the beach or the mountains.
Most businesses will find it necessary to split campaigns down to country level, as messaging will be different depending on what stage of lockdown each country is in and their specific restrictions. Be sure to run your ads at the most appropriate time for each country – for example, from 6am to 11pm for Europe and adjusting this as needed for specific time zones. On Google Ads, ensure that your call extensions are set to the most local number you have for that country/region.
Many of us are feeling distanced from the world around us, so use your ads as a way to start a conversation with your audience. Instead of simply drawing people to your website, why not invite people to message or video call one of your team? If your company is experiencing unprecedented levels of communication and you don’t have the staff to deal with it, set up a chatbot to answer all FAQS before directing the client to book a call slot if their question cannot be answered online.
Some brands have been nervous to advertise, not to appear too pushy, but those that have dared to be bold have been rewarded with cheaper ads and a larger market share. Marketing after Covid-19 presents a unique opportunity to establish your brand with a high-quality ad score, while there is less competition and get in the minds of yours and your competitor’s customers.
PR and content
Lockdown measures have seen the vast majority of people reading, watching and listening to more online media, with 80% of consumers in the US and UK saying they consume more content since the outbreak. It’s kind of obvious though isn’t it? This has caused news outlets and blog sites to be hungrier than ever for topical, informative articles. Depending on your brand’s tone, it’s an immeasurable opportunity to get published on high domain authority (DA) sites thus getting great referral traffic and helping your SEO.
In terms of communicating with your clients, as mentioned earlier, now is the time to make yourself heard. Send out mailers, write thought leadership articles on LinkedIn, create podcasts – whatever you do, make sure that your content is high quality, as plenty of other brands will have had the same idea. I would even say be a little edgy so you stand out. Your content should be adding value, not providing white noise.
As soon as you can, get video crews out to shoot footage, whether that be a walkaround tour of a new product, that has come to market, a 360 degree video of a property/resort, a boutique product promotion, or perhaps a video demonstrating how you will be sterilising your products or keeping your guests safe. If this is not possible, cut together some pre-existing video footage that you can share in a new way.
Social media
With 500 million active users globally and more than 1 billion video views per day, TikTok entered the Covid-19 crisis in a strong position and has come out as arguably the most powerful social media platform of 2020. In fact, the video app saw an 18% increase in downloads and was downloaded 2 million times between March 16 and 22, an increase from the previous week’s 1.7 million. TikTok also saw a 27% increase in the first 23 days of March compared to February with 6.2 million downloads.
Following widespread influencer success, brands like Burberry and Gucci have embraced this new platform and have been rewarded with high engagement. Despite lockdowns easing around the world, TikTok’s popularity looks to be going nowhere, making it a strong consideration for your digital marketing after Covid-19 strategy, but be aware that your content needs to be young and fresh. The best way to learn what works is to dive in and start testing.
Looking at other platforms, Facebook and Instagram have experienced both growing and decreasing engagement through the pandemic, depending on where in the world users are. A report by Social Bakers states that between March 2019 and 2020, Instagram has seen growth in interactions in countries including Japan (10%), while most of the countries in Europe, North America and the Middle East experienced a decline.
So, depending on where your audiences are, you may either want to boost or limit your efforts for these two channels.
Twitter reported in late March that its total monetisable daily active users jumped 23% to 164 million quarter-to-date, driven by the conversation around Covid-19. Meanwhile, as of the end of April LinkedIn has grown to have 690 million total members, increasing from 675 million back in January and recording a 26% growth in user sessions over this time. These platforms are the perfect place to share your company’s news and of-the-moment topical insights, which done right can help boost your business’ status as an authority.
As mentioned earlier, online video consumption is on the rise and this is no doubt leading to an increased number of YouTube users, however, the platform has warned its creators that video removals may increase during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is due to fewer staff being on hand to review videos. However, this shouldn’t put brands off from pushing their video content as soon as possible. We know YouTube is fighting hard with IGTV so you will now see videos in premium Google spots, so pushing hard on YouTube will also help your SEO strategy.
WhatsApp reported at the end of March an increase in usage that grew from an initial 27% bump in the earlier days of the pandemic to 41% in the mid-phase. For countries already in the later phase of the pandemic, WhatsApp usage has jumped by 51%. This means that now is a great time to consider building a WhatsApp marketing strategy if you haven’t already. Remember, marketing campaigns on WhatsApp need to feel personal, giving users an opportunity to chat with brands on a truly one-to-one basis.
You shouldn’t need to make significant changes when marketing after Covid-19 in terms of SEO. The big initiatives are in my SEO & Digital Marketing Strategy tips for 2020. This advises on concentrating on video SEO, Google real estate, featured snippets, image SEO, optimised website structure, mobile-first, no-follow backlinks, long-tail keywords, blogging and branded SEO.
One obvious addition to these SEO tips for 2020 is local landing pages – these will be key as populations are forced to shop close to home, so make sure your website isn’t missing those. And make sure your Google My Business Listing is not only up-to-date but also update the news.
There are countless reports showing smartphone use is on the rise, meaning there is no excuse to leave your website unoptimised for mobile. Making your website mobile-friendly will benefit your business even if you are not currently seeing more mobile visitors, ensuring it shows up higher in search results, so there’s no time like the present. Can you really afford to be turning off your clients in this economic climate? Please also understand internal search clients using the internal website search often convert at a much higher rate than other website visitors so make sure they are finding what they are looking for.
Finally, as of writing, Google has confirmed a May 2020 core algorithm update rolling out today, so do stay on your toes and watch those Google patents as they do give you a good idea towards the future of search.
Are you ready?
If you have been hiding behind your logo, not knowing what to do, this needs to end now. As we have seen, there are so many new opportunities across all aspects of digital marketing – from capitalising on the falling cost per click on digital advertising platforms to creating authentic video content that captivates a hungry audience, and from building global brand awareness on TikTok to building a mobile-friendly site that your brand will never stop benefiting from. It wouldn’t just be foolish to ignore this unique window, it could also be dangerous to the future of your business.
Be bold in your marketing strategy. Remember that this is a brave new world we face, but that we face it together. Your clients will appreciate you being by their side through this confusing time, especially if you are providing them with wisdom that they cannot get elsewhere. Don’t give up, even if surviving means adapting your entire marketing strategy. With the right tools and ideas, you can emerge from the Covid-19 crisis stronger than ever before.

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