Author Archives: ferdiamacanna

Augmented Digital Marketing- the Future of Everything


Have you seen the new Pepsi Max augmented reality bus shelter ad?   If so, are you aware of its implications for the future of well, just about everything? In the ad, the good folks at Pepsi Max replaced the see through fibreglass wall of an ordinary bus shelter with an augmented reality screen. Unsuspecting bus passengers were subjected to a baggage of dramatic, Sometimes terrifyingly realistic moving images including tigers, explosions and car chases. Whether the ad was designed to increase sales or Pepsi Max or build greater Brand Awareness is a somewhat moot point. What is clear that you would not want to have a heart condition and be waiting for a bus in a bus shelter with one of Pepsi’s secret augmented reality screens. Even if you weren’t of a nervous disposition, you might well be by the time the bus arrived.


Pepsi tiger



What is more certain is that Facebook is rapidly stepping up a campaign to forge for itself a even more prominent position within the Digital world. Not content with recent acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media empire has now purchased the ground-breaking, extremely hot Augmented Reality company Oculus, in a deal reputedly worth over $2b. Undoubtedly, Facebook see this acquisition as a smart piece of business, perhaps a potential world-beater as well as an innovative way of giving Facebook and its sister companies a platform with which to interact and market to users, clients, affiliates and even rival businesses. Perhaps it’s Facebook’s version of Google Glass. In acquiring Oculus, will the Facebook experience develop into a kind of real time inter-connective video game instead of the benign social media exchanges that Facebook users currently enjoy? Anyway, the end result of all this augmented reality activity is that – whether or not we like it – we all soon be entering a Brave New World of Digital Marketing featuring cutting edge high-tech innovation that will redefine and expand the concept of customer interaction. Should Augmented Reality catch on – and there is every indication that it will – then it is certain to have a profound impact upon just about everything – TV, mobile phones, laptops, tablets and social media as well as the future of Digital marketing. If tigers and helicopters can suddenly appear in the walls of bus shelters then it can’t be long before we will have virtual figures popping up from the screens of our Ipads, laptops and mobiles to engage with us about various products or marketing campaigns. Remember the famous scene in Star Wars where a hologram of Princess Leia popped up out of R2D2’s metal head? Well, that’s what our everyday lives will be like in a very short time   Such highly effective and realistic virtual advertising may make it difficult even sometimes impossible to tell the difference between augmented reality and reality itself. And it won’t just be bus shelters and social media platforms that will be affected. Most of what we currently take for granted may change dramatically. For example, what will Augmented Reality affect e-books and in particular, children’s e-books? How long will it be before eBooks enhanced by augmented reality will be reading themselves to children at night? Is it such a stretch to imagine a future where virtual reality holograms of Alice in Wonderland or Where the Wild Things Are play out from the enhanced pages of e-books in real time and in living colour? Dart and Luas journeys will never be the same again, not to mention waiting at bus stops or airports or indeed, anywhere else where commuters gather. Ferdia Mac Anna


Digital Vinyl Revival. Digital Marketing and the Unlikely Comeback of Vinyl Records

Students and the undrr 25s have contributed to the comeback of vinyl albums

Students and the under 25s have contributed to the comeback of vinyl albums


One of the most surprising success stories of the digital era is the resurgence of sales of vinyl record albums. Supposedly made redundant over twenty years ago by the rise of CDs coupled with the dominance of music downloads on Digital marketing giants iTunes and Amazon, LPs have made a remarkable comeback. Now, along with music streaming, vinyl albums constitute a growth area in the music industry.

The big success story is Digital Streaming which increased by over 30%, achieving a record 118 billion total streams mainly due to the emergence of Spotify and Pandora.

Vinyl Records sales chartAs a lover of vinyl albums, I am delighted by the renaissance of the LP. However, it is unlikely that the vinyl album will ever achieve the dominance it enjoyed in the 70s and 80s. To put things in perspective, in 2013, LPs sold approximately 6.1m, a fraction in comparison with the $15b in revenue achieved by US vinyl sales in 1999 but still an unlikely triumph. Last year, CDs sold 165m while downloads peaked at 118m. (

However, though it is refreshing – as well as a real boost for music lovers – that in this age of instant gratification and accessibility the music market has re-embraced a technological dinosaur such as the vinyl record album, one big question remains: why?

There are many theories, including the appeal of owning a beautifully packaged artifact. Another reason could be a perceived backlash against digital music in general. However, as AFP’s Alfons Luna says, ‘Vinyl offers a richer sound than downloadable digital songs which although hiss-free, lack the ‘warmth’ of vinyl records.”–FOwyGJnE4Q?docId=a40ab03a-a4ea-4dc7-8b46-1deb6894f5f9

Digital Marketing has played a major role in offering the vinyl lover a better choice of product along with a richer online shopping experience, particularly since the emergence of specialist or niche online vinyl retailers Discogs ( and Amazon Marketplace ( along with small independent records stores like Disc-Covery (

Now, the customer can avail of competitive prices and a wide choice of product from traditional (Bricks) selling (ie major retailers Tower and HMV along with independent record shops) as well as (Clicks) online marketplaces Amazon, Discogs and others. Irish vinyl retailers Spindizzy,Freebird and R.A.G.E. have yet to fully embrace online sales though most continue to increase Brand awareness and drive sales through maintaining a strong digital presence on social media including Twitter, Facebook and You Tube.

One of the great benefits of going online though, is that it’s possible to track down virtually any vinyl album ever released. Recently, I sourced a used copy of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 20 Greatest Hits. My budget was around 25e and I had several criteria:

–       Reasonable price

–       Easy to use online service experience

–       Good quality or near mint condition of product

–       Cheap shipping rates to Ireland

Amazon Marketplace’s search engine is easy to use and turned up a wide variety. However, accurate shipping rates to Ireland were hard to access. Prices were mostly in sterling which involved using a currency converter tool:


Discogs’ search engine is more elaborate and involves clicking on a number of links including ‘artist’, ‘album title’ and ‘media’ i.e. ‘vinyl’ before you arrive at a scroll down menu listing of available items. However, the site is relatively easy to use and within a minute I had a choice of over twenty records. Discogs provides easy to access and accurate shipping information on a link marked View Shipping and Payment Information). Many of the traders list prices in euro, which swung my choice. I bought from Discogs and received the LP within a few days.

The comeback of the vinyl album is for my money, one of the best benefits of the digital era.

By Ferdia Mac Anna

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Marketing Confused SMEs. Get Un-confused by Digital Marketing

Dun Laoghaire benefitted by a social media driven shopping day

Dun Laoghaire benefitted by a social media driven shopping day


Why is it that so many SMEs in are oblivious to the benefits of Digital Marketing?

Since September 2013, when I commenced studying for a certificate in Digital marketing at DBS, I have encountered SME owners that feel the digital age is a load of bosh. They see little benefit in having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube or Linked-In. Many admitted to feeling ‘confused’ by digital marketing.

Their attitude begs the question: why is it that some SMEs are reluctant to engage with social media and the Internet in general? It seems strange given that the Internet has been in existence for a quarter of a century. Recent surveys indicate that a majority of people in the Western world go online regularly (over 85% of US citizens have access to Internet or use the social media)

SMEs I consulted with expressed the following reservations:

  •       Can’t afford the time to go online
  •       Their business is walk-in, not online
  •       Loyal customer base does not require marketing
  •       Digital advertising expensive and confusing
  •       No proof that social media can drive sales

Yet in the UK, struggling high street SMEs in towns are embracing Digital Marketing including Social media such as Twitter and Facebook – as well as a newcomer Phlok – in a campaign to fight back against large Supermarket chains.

Sarah Lyle, who runs Attic Womenswear in Ilkley, says that digitally connecting independent traders to customers through Phlok pays off. ‘Social Media is amazing, just last week it accounted for a quarter of my turnover’.  Phlok, a digital Loyalty scheme that rewards customers with points each time they spend money in a particular participating shop, costs £69 a month and has already attracted businesses throughout England.

Recently, in an effort to boost business, the town of Dun Laoghaire in south county Dublin launched a similar e-initiative, promoting a special shopping day driven almost entirely by social media including Facebook and Twitter.

The message to be gleaned from such activities is that a combination of social networks, loyalty schemes and Internet initiatives can help boost traditional small businesses as well as online companies.

For Irish SMEs who are ‘confused’ about digital marketing, help is at hand. Utter Digital focuses on teaching SMEs social media, search engine optimisation (SEO) and content marketing. Founder Aine Birmingham understands that digital marketing can be confusing to SMEs facing the challenges of limited time and budget, not to mention computer skills. ‘Training and mentoring has proven to be very successful to date, and this side of the business is growing quite rapidly’, she says.

So, in an attempt to ‘un-confuse’, here are my Top Five Tips to help SMEs get to grips with the enigma of Digital Market.

  1.      Build a website and get online. If you can’t be ‘found’, then your business may ultimately suffer. The very least that can happen is that customers know you are out there.
  2.      Use social media as a marketing tool. Two hours a week on Facebook, Pinterest, You Tube, Linked-in and Twitter can spread the word and build relationships with your customers.
  3.      Produce great content for your website through blogs, videos, infographics, competitions, promotions. Giveaways, bonus points etc.
  4.      Learn how to do your own marketing by using the Internet’s free tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.
  5.      Be Active. Get your brand out there and network with other businesses and customers. Join Linked In and other Irish networks such as IrishBizParty 

Ferdia MacAnna

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