We released our Innovation Report this month, and it's chock-full of great examples of forward thinking from brands and advertisers.
With the deadline for this year's Innovation Awards approaching fast (get your entries in by October 28), I've picked out some great examples, (some old, some new) from the report...
Skimlinks is a monetisation tool that converts publisher links into affiliate links via code in the site‘s footer. The code allows the site‘s outgoing links to be sent out to more than 17,000 merchants worldwide across 18 affiliate networks, enabling publishers to earn commission more easily.
Thanks to automating what is often a time-consuming process, Skimlinks allows publishers who don‘t have the capacity or ability to apply affiliate marketing to earn commission from their content.
Shutl / Argos
Shutl's same day or nominated day delivery service has the potential to shake up the e-commerce market, and also gives multichannel retailers a real advantage over pure-play rivals.
The service started out with Argos as a launch partner, serving the London area, but it has since expanded to other major cities.
Read our interview with Shutl CEO Tom Allason.
e-Dialog / British Airways
Last year's winning entry from e-Dialog and British Airways shows the importance of optimising emails for mobile devices, and the results that can be achieved by doing this.
First of all, BA's database was used to determine which were using mobile, and which device they used.
Then four different emails were created, for desktop, iPhone, Android and Blackberry, so that recipients could have the best version of the email for their phone.
The results were impressive, with open rates for mobile exceeding those for desktop users, in excess of 50% for iPhone and Android devices. The CTR was 25% for users who accessed email on their iPhone and in excess of 30% for BlackBerry users.
The campaign generated over 250,000 downloads, more than double the targeted number, and more than 70,000 clicks to BA.com/apps. Approximately 200,000 downloads came from the Apple App Store, 50,000 on BlackBerry and 7,000 on Android.
Nokia / 1000heads - Vending machine check-in
Nokia‘s smartphone vending machine was launched during Glasgow‘s Social Media Week. The technology allowed users with Foursquare-enabled devices to check-in with a #NokiaConnects hashtag.
Users that checked in received a free gift from the vending machine. Participants were allowed to check in once a day and received prizes ranging from sweets to free smartphones and other Nokia accessories.
Pizza Express - iPhone app allows for in-store payment
The Pizza Express iPhone app allows customers to settle their bills at any point during their visit. The chain provides free Wi-Fi in its restaurants to ensure customers can use the internet to connect to the app store. QR codes that allow diners to download the app are placed on tables.
Diners can pay by credit card or PayPal, while the app allows them to find and book tables, view menus, download voucher codes and store special offers and receipts.
Skype / European Directories – converting online searches into phone calls
Skype and European Directories have developed a product and business model that will convert online searches into phone calls with full tracking ability.
The product uses existing Skype technology, as it converts the online appearance of an advertiser phone number into a lead- generating ad-unit. This gives local business advertisers the ability to turn their phone number into a click-to-call link, anywhere it appears online.
BroadView / Virgin Holidays – WebPresenter technology
BroadView‘s WebPresenter technology allows websites to put a walking, talking person anywhere on the web page. You can see it in action here.
Virgin Holidays used this technology to increase the number of people upgrading basic package holiday flights to the more expensive Upper Class option. A core aim was to draw the customer‘s attention to the incredible experience of flying Upper Class and to convey some of the pleasure involved.
The campaign saw a 30% uplift in sales of Upper Class flights compared with the same period in the previous year.
The Google Job Experiment
This was was a personal project by freelance copywriter Alec Brownstein, who used Google vanity searches (when people Google their own name) to find himself a job.
Brownstein set up paid search campaigns using the names of New York‘s top creative directors as keywords. When the creative directors Googled themselves, they found paid search ads asking for a job.
Brownstein got interviews from four out of the five New York executives he targeted, received job offers from two of the companies and finally accepted a job at the Y&R agency.
Nedap – Interactive Tweet mirror
The interactive Tweet Mirror is a solution provided by retail specialist, Nedap Retail. The mirror allows customers to take photos of themselves as they try on different outfits, and then share these via Twitter, or Facebook.
The mirror is an innovative way for in-store customers to share products via the web, and allows for brand exposure beyond the physical store location.
Sears / Ceros – First online-only interactive catalogue
Sears launched the first interactive online-only in association with Ceros earlier this year. The catalogue is entirely interactive and fully e-commerce integrated, and combines rich media and interactive content.
Customers can browse, examine, review and bookmark any of the products featured in the catalogue, and click to purchase. Reviews by Bazaarvoice appear alongside each product, where available. Customers can either buy the product online or choose to pick it up in-store.
Web Analytics, Measurement and Optimisation
I Want One of Those / uTest – Crowdsourcing Payment Systems
Online retailer IWantOneofThose.com used crowdsourcing to test new payment systems on its website.
Working with testing community, uTest, IWOOT was able to set up its payment systems in record time. uTest has an online community of more than 18,000 users who test bugs in return for cash prizes and kudos within the online community.
The aim was to strike a balance between the cost, quality and speed of its testing and debugging. In just over two hours, the testers collaborated online to find and document serious bugs that could have disrupted sales on the site.
Made.com is an online furniture retailer that cuts out the middle-man, and connects consumers with furniture makers directly.
The online site cuts out the retailer and the wholesaler, to offer consumers designer furniture at highly discounted prices. Consumers can browse the items online, and user votes on the Labs section of the site determine which pieces of furniture get made.
When items from the Labs are put up on sale, a timer on the site indicates when orders for the item should be placed. The furniture is then made to order, and shipped to the UK in approximately four weeks.