This Week in Digital…

Becky Grainger

This week in digital

Monty the penguin

This week, despite it only being November, Christmas arrived early after John Lewis released their famous Christmas advert and it’s a tearjerker. This year they chose to release the advert on social media, instead of last years lavish film style premiere at a London cinema. Despite only being released yesterday the advert has had over a million views on YouTube and is trending on Twitter. Monty the penguin is set to air in the advert break of Channel 4’s Googlebox, tonight at 9pm.

Let the countdown to Christmas begin!


Axel Springer drops Google block

German publishing giant, Axel Springer, has backed down its campaign to block snippets of articles from appearing on Google. The two week experiment, which has seen articles from titles such as Bild removed from Google, has now stopped, with the publisher declaring that the move shot the firm out of the market.

This latest move follows a major campaign within Germany, France and Spain where publishers have lobbied for a Google Tax that would force the search engine to pay for a licensing fee when snippets are displayed. Springer said that the restrictions caused web traffic to plummet, forcing the firm into a new stance.

A Google spokesman said: “The decision shows that Google is making a significant contribution to the economic success of news publishers. Google wants to work in the future with publishers on new models to promote their websites and apps to increase traffic and to support digital publishing.”

Mathias Doepfner, the chief executive of Axel Springer has said: “Others will have to pick up the ball now.”

Publishers are still continuing to pursue the cause and the digital commissioner of the European Union, Guenther Oettinger, has indicated that consideration is being taken towards a regional Internet copyright levy.


Twitters president of global revenue, Adam Bain has revealed that the emotions of users are fueling the growth of the social media platform as businesses begin to buy into data. Bain used the analogy of users talking about soggy chips, as to why a food manufacturer would be interested in purchasing data that allows for insights into consumer behavior.

During a talk at the Web Summit conference in Dublin, Bain said: “I went to Twitter, and sure enough there are thousands of people tweeting about soggy fries.” He explained that Twitters big-data revenue has grown 171% compared to last year and that big data is set to become a bigger part of the firms offering.

Further saying: “We’re experimenting with different price points with different products, and more importantly what emotions you need to generate as a business to get someone to buy in the moment. We’re trying to prove to those marketers that we can actually move transactions, and once that’s in place, a variety of business models come into play.”

“And for monetisation, all we do is monetise emotions. Those four emotions: whats hot, whats new, whats going on in the world and whats happening in my world.”

Despite user concerns over the prominence of advertising on the platform, Bain was keen to explain that the firm had avoided the usual pitfalls of advertising by avoiding banners and other forms of advertising that users are keen to avoid.

With the company now floating on the stock exchange, Twitter is still balancing user and investor interests as it grows. A button was beta launched in September, acting as a potential commerce feature on the platform but has received a mixed response from users.

Bank balance fashion

Nationwide, the UKs largest building society, has revealed a new wrist watch which can tell users their bank balance on the go. Following digital banking advancements such as Barclays Pingit it and a number of mobile banking apps, Nationwide is the first to develop wearable technology for its customers.

The Android Wear device will integrate with Nationwides Quick Balance app, allowing users to stay updated wherever they go. The Quick Balance app has been used more than 12m times since it was launched earlier this year.

nationwide bank balance

Chief operating office at Nationwide, Tony Prestedge said: “Giving those members who want and have the technology the ability to check their balance on their watch provides them with even more choice as to how they interact with us, whether it is online, through an app, face-to-face or over the phone.”

And Finally…

Scientists have figured out a crafty new way to collect data about the behavior of animals without interrupting their normal behavior. Researchers from the University of Strasbourg in France built a rover, cleverly camouflaged as a penguin chick, which was then sent into emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica.

robot penguin

The reason for the cute robot is more than just fun and games though, as scientists needed a solution to the problem of human contact causing distress to the penguins. Robots collecting data, from chips inserted beneath the skin of penguins, were found to blend in more naturally with the penguins and raised fewer alarms than human counterparts attempting to do the same job.

Of the 158 penguins tested, 47% had no reaction to the dummy penguin, 25% developed a curiosity and 28% reacted with alertness. The presence of humans however, consistently raised the heart rate of monitored penguins and affected penguin behavior.