Server Down Happens – Nationwide Banking Offline

We are working on the highest levels of server setups with our clients balanced hosting services special content delivery networks all this to make sure websites are always online.

This allows for uninterrupted operation including online marketing

Unfortunately even the biggest institutions with the best and most powerful servers and security go down, this is part of the deal. One thing web delivered to businesses is opportunity to be open 24/7/365(6) for business but do not believe some sales person from a hosting company or your internal team manager saying – “our uptime will be 100%” – this isn’t going to happen in any time in the near future.

We can keep downtime to a minimum so you can count it as customer in minutes per month/year but it will never be 100% uptime. There are few reasons for this:

a)  operations these days may depend on external services and if they can not process payments or orders it means you cannot do business. In this case we can have your website live but with no functionality to process customer requests.

b) the downtime can be related to network issues not server issues – it makes website inaccessible for some or all of your customers but server is up and running. This group of issues can be connected to routing problems, data centre network problems or attacks known as DDoS.

Either way when looking in to hosting of something vital for your business web services look not in to promises of uptime etc. but firm setup of infrastructure and what happens when your website goes down or when customers cannot access it. What procedures are in place to avoid this. Also make sure you have procedures in place to handle situations when your site is offline eg. take payments over the phone. Below you have sample of Nationwide action when they refer customers to ATMs and Branches but what if your business is on-line only!

There are ways of dealing with these issues too. Do not forget you always have other channels to keep the damage to a minimum.

However the first things you should try to do in crisis downtime situation are:

1) Establish ETA and inform your potential customers about changes to your schedule.

2) Stop all advertising if possible to avoid people and potential new customers being directed to dead pages on your website.

Have a quick look how  deals with Online Banking Downtime:

Today (23/04/2013 St Georges Day) Nationwide (few weeks earlier HSBC) had to close online banking operations.

When you try to log in the following message appears:

We’re sorry to have to tell you that our Online Bank is unavailable

We are making every effort to restore service as quickly as possible and will keep the service status page updated with our progress.

We apologise for any inconvenience this will cause you.

If your banking is urgent, we have other ways you can bank with us. You could try:





Unfortunately website doesn’t say what is ETA for the current issue. I would say they have still some work to do here. On the other hand they have comfort of being also well establish high street brand which allowed them to be a bit relaxed about few hours of downtime in online operations.

Google Analytics Tips – Setting up Annotations

Being a rather forgetful person myself I always find it’s useful to make notes, lists and illegible scribbles of reminders, (if I had my way the whole office stationery budget would be spent on post-its!).

Thankfully other Analytics users are just as forgetful as me, thus 3 years ago Google felt the must support their less brainally retentive user base with a great feature Annotations.

These are basically just little comments you can add to dates on your reports. Great for marking what may have caused peaks or drops in traffic, page views, goals, etc. where the cause isn’t instantly apparent, for example Email Campaigns, Temporary adwords Campaigns, any offline advertising or maybe your site was down for half a day!

Here’s how you add annotations to your Google Analytics reports.

Assumed Knowledge:

  • Your Google Analytics Login (if you don’t have this don’t even bother reading on).
  • Basic Google Analytics Knowledge.
  • Minimal Amount of Computer Literacy.

How to add Analytics Annotations

  1. Open the report you want to annotate in Google Analytics.
  2. Double Click on the date you want to add an annotation to.
  3. Put your annotation text in the text box that appears (max 160 characters).
  4. Click the save button, simples!

Congratulations you’ve made your first ever annotation! You’ll notice that a small speech bubble icon appears under the date on the report timeline.

Google Analytics Report Annotations

You can also add annotations by clicking the small down arrow that appears under a report then click the “+ Create new annotation” link.

Other settings you can fiddle with are whether the annotation is private (only visible to your account) or shared (visible to all users who can access that report).

But what do annotations look like in reports? I hear you ask. Short answer, not much. In PDFs the speech bubble icon appears under the date on the timeline but you can’t see the annotation text :(

Who I think will dominate the mobile operating system market in the future

Future of Mobile Operating SystemsCurrently the consumer phone market is a 2 horse race in terms of operating systems, between Android and iOS. Since the iPhone release the mobile market has rocketed. Going from the business requirement of emails whilst on the move to the desire to do more all of the time. Whether that is finding directions or like myself playing cut the rope to make the train journey a little more pleasant! :D

Microsoft launched Windows 8 in October, 2012 this was their first real effort to take a slice of the mobile/tablet market share. Between October 2012 and January 2013 the Microsoft mobile market share fell by 0.1%. However this does not discourage my opinion on which will be the most popular mobile OS (Operating System) in 3 years time. I know it is a very bold statement to say that Microsoft’s OS will be the front runner in a two horse race that is not even a part of, especially when initial sales have not even met expectations.

The release of an OS will never be enough to make it widely used amongst the consumer market. Especially when your mobile ecosystem is tiny! But the release of Windows 8 means there is now a proper platform for the Microsoft app ecosystem to grow. Android and iOS would be no where near as popular in this day and age if all the app store offered was re-skinned calculators. It is the innovation of the app designers and developers that is providing the user with more reasons to use their phone.

I believe once the Microsoft app ecosystem has a healthy amount of life, this is when we will see the real developments to the OS and a growth in users picking up a smartphone on the OS. Microsoft has some of the greatest developer minds at their disposal and they already have a very large amount of consumer trust.

I have no issue with my android based device and I enjoy it very much and at the moment I wouldn’t swap it for anything! Hopefully it’s my brain talking when I say that I believe a windows phone will be the thing to have in 2016 and not my new found love for developing in C# :P

Google AdWords Enhanced Campaigns: Simple Upgrade Flow

On Wednesday 6 February 2013 Google announced they will be upgrading AdWords- by changing all campaigns from legacy to a more device-friendly version called enhanced.

This new version will enable marketers to manage ad campaign in the multi-device world of today, in much simpler and smarter way.

Google have stated that they are looking upgrade all campaigns in mid-2013. However, advertisers already have an option available in their AdWords account, should they want to make the upgrade themselves.


Here is a step by step guide on how to upgrade from legacy to enhanced.

(nb. This is a step by step guide for the Simple Upgrade Flow, guides for Bulk Upgrade Flow and Merge Flow will appear on the blog later in the week)


Step 1- Open All Online Campaigns in Google Adwords and select campaign. 

Step 2- Click on the blue “Get started” button which should be located at the top left.

Step 3- A pop-up should appear, click on the “Start now” button.

Step 4- You will be given an option to adjust the mobile bid that Google has suggested. Choose an option and click “Complete upgrade”.

Step 5-  Another pop-up should appear. Click “Close” and then review Post Upgrade Steps.

HMV Collapse – Administrators Useless Money Wasters!

OK, so four years on nothing has changed. From web point of view insolvency administrators of huge chains still waste money with their first decisions!

Four years into the crisis, four years after our Silverjet and Woolworth articles where published and we have this same approach from appointed administrators – money wasters!
Apoined administrator is someone who should take extra care when it goes to value of the collapsed business.
How about taking care of assets value? We know operations created profit opposite to the rest of the group. Administrator’s task at this point is to make sure that people are not only informed about company administration status but also be aware of the value of assets managed during administration.
Making shareholders and companies to whom HMV owns money aware about administrator’s action to make website wiped out from search engines within few days wouldn’t go well as it is irresponsible also in respect of the people who work in this part of HMV group!

Facebook Is Down

Millions of Facebook users worldwide tonight are all asking the same question – Is Facebook Down? And the answer is yes, Facebook has crashed.

The social network crashed this evening in spectacular fashion and is still down more than 15 minutes after the intial crash, as people take to other social networks like Twitter (ironically) to vent their frustration and spread the news -

Facebook have not yet released any information on their own Twitter feed and there are thus far very few articles covering the story:


Facebook later released a statement about the outage and apologised for the interruption:

Earlier today we made a change to our DNS infrastructure and that change resulted in some people being temporarily unable to reach the site. We detected and resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back to 100 percent. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Battle of The Bloggers – Competition Deadline is Extended to 14 December

All through November we were talking about the wonderful competition that was being held by Topdeck Travel- it gave bloggers the unique opportunity to win their dream holiday.

“Battle of the Bloggers” proved so popular that the guys at Topdeck Travel were inundated with requests from bloggers to extend the competition deadline. The aim of the competition was the find the very best travel blogger- and Topdeck Travel do not want to deny anyone the opportunity to showcase their talents- so it has been decided that the competition will be extended to 14 December!

This deadline will be  final, so anyone that wants to enter must submit the following by the 14 December:

  •  Write a 500 word post on your blog decribing your favourite travel experience. (It must describe a Topdeck Travel destination).
  • Post a video entry on youtube describing the same experience, and tag it #battleofthebloggers.
  • Fill in the entry form on the Topdeck site.
To go to the competition website, please click here. Again, good luck!

Lost Island – Google Maps PR Prank 2012 or Fly’s dung

- Would you like to join me for exploring trip to “Sandy Island”? I found this great place just off the New Caledonia coast.
- No, it isn’t!? It’s just fly’s droppings! What a shame…

You think geographers and cartographers in 21st century know everything about our globe. They can measure it with 1cm accuracy thanks to very accurate satellites and laser devices, explore it flying over things and taking aerial photos. However recently has been “discovered” Google among other providers made up some islands together with their names! You can clearly see below this is an artificial mark on the top of the satellite raster but it was given name – “Sandy Island”. According to Wikipedia its existence was questioned in 2000 (well before Google Maps existed) but it was not publicised. In 2012 it get full attention.
So, What happened?

Go to Google Maps search “Sandy Island” – unbelievable it does exist. First you would thought there should be thousands of places called “Sandy Island” and you are wrong not many of them around about 10 fairly well known. Second someone who made up this island together with its name must have a lot of fun now.

View Larger Map

Phantom Island of Coral Sea shows us clearly Internet published data can be greatly inaccurate. In some cases we perhaps put too much faith in this medium. Even “Sandy Island” existed prior to internet maps it looks like mistake was replicated in digitalised based on offline materials and taken for granted as correct in online world.
It is worth to mention here non of the existing big online map services is homogeneous. You would think so but this is not a case. In UK alone services like Google Maps or Bing Maps use at least 5 providers for satellite imagery and maps layers. After all GIS (Geographic Information Systems)  it is big complex structure and although Google and Microsoft  are some of the biggest organisations in the world they can not cope with global scale mapping on their own. With so many providers worldwide there is no wonder you will have lots of mistakes.

So how “Sandy Island” made to charts? There are few possible scenarios:
1) Raster problem – one of the satellite imagery providers for example NASA created image with couple of dead pixels this was interpreted as island when picture was processed
2) Copyright mark – a lot of cartographers make some insignificant mistake in order to recognise their work. In case map is replicated illegally this mistake is also replicated. There is only one but – this is not done on sea charts for security reasons
3) Prank – sometimes in 1990s someone decide to create island for fun – junior cartographer in some equivalent of Ordinance Survey when digitalising maps decided to create an island. If this would be the case this is the guy who has now so much fun watching all these articles.
4) Fly’s dropping – try to imagine this cartographer in late XX century produces digital vector version of the map based on satellite image. A fly flies over and… “Sandy Island” is created. Trust me however funny this sounds it is possible – I did create few maps in my life :-)

- Do not organise your holidays based only on Google Maps ;-)
- Always keep in mind internet is full of errors so do not take it for granted all data from Wikipedia is correct or this is true because you did “Google it”

Battle Of The Bloggers – How good at Travel Blogging are you?

Inspired by the travel bloggers at the WTM London at the Excel London recently, we have been paying close attention to what is happening in the travel blogging community. A few weeks ago we helped set up a competition which all budding travel bloggers can get their teeth into. The competition is run by popular 18-39 travel company – Topdeck Travel.

Topdeck Travel’s “Battle of the Bloggers” Competition gives all bloggers (whether already established or just aspiring) the opportunity to win a unique and once-in-a-lifetime prize. The winners will jet out to Topdeck’s Island Suntanner in Australia or Kiwi Encounter in New Zealand!

All you need to do to get a chance of winning your dream holiday is:

  •  Write a 500 word post on your blog decribing your favourite travel experience. (It must describe a Topdeck Travel destination).
  • Post a video entry on youtube describing the same experience, and tag it #battleofthebloggers.
  • Fill in the entry form on the Topdeck site.

In order to find out more or to enter the competition, just follow the link
The  competition is only the start of something that could become fruitful long term cooperation between young blog publishers and an established travel company.

If you have any multilingual skills or other unique to you publishing features up your sleeve, I would recommend using them!

Good Luck!

WTM London 2012 – Travel Online Technology – 5 Points to take away!

Earlier this week Travel Trade Show WTM London 2012 took place in Excel London. For 4 days people from all over the world were doing business accross all travel sectors. One of the most busy ones was Online Travel Technology sector. As one of the most non-invasive forms of wealth distribution these travel shows always attract a lot of attention and with advance online technology travel market specialists look towards Search Engines and Social Media as money saving solutions.
Question is – did you join any technology seminars this year? If you didn’t there are 5 main points which were discussed this year. You can treat this article as your guide to online travel technology and advertising 2012: WTM London 2012 Break from Technology Seminars
- Bloggers
- Search
- Video
- Mobile
And the most important one:
- how to use these techniques fully combined for your holistic marketing strategy.
I must admit this fifth point is something we’ve been waiting for over the past five years.

This is quick review of what happened during 4 days of seminars
1) Bloggers get their proper recognition this year. It was joyful to find in the seminar rooms dozens of bloggers. For the very first time I can say travel industry recognises bloggers on this same level as technology sector does.
On Tuesday in Platinum suite you could feel buzz like never before. This will only get bigger.
Take away point – find connections with travel bloggers ASAP if you do not have some already!

2) Search Marketing. No one needs to be convinced what benefit can you have from website. We had people from major players on the podium including chaps from innovative side of Search – Semantic Search. Where you can talk about artificial intelligence in search.
What you could learn here is that Google is so big regarding product span and operations that an external Search focused specialist knows more about their products than an internal representative :-) (it was fun to watch). Of course this showed how advanced online marketing techniques are these days.
Search – Yahoo!|Bing setup is still confusing regarding advertising opposite to Google where GDN and your AdWords pannel can cover all aspects of online advertising including YouTube, Gmail, Google Places and G+
You still have no straight forward approach to introduce advertising within Hotmail, MSN messenger, Yahoo publishing properties. This of course creates Bing platform less competitive especially for businesses with budgets below certain threshold. Sometimes people like Yahoo!|Bing alliance forget there are thousands of businesses which spent millions and millions of businesses which spend only thousands.
Google fully recognises this and this is the reason you can still create revenue on Google form campaign which has spend of £50pcm! Incredible but true.

Take away point two – make sure you always hire specialist from search to keep your team updated. Your team is not focused on general trends in search make sure you not running blind – talk to search engine specialist ASAP

360 picture of Europe stands on WTM London in Excel in 2012

3) Video – bigger then ever before YouTube annotations as way forward for linking videos made their stage this year. Good for annotations but what about content productions. There were some interesting results there too.

Take away 3 – Get your videos linked together  and do not spend money on video production. Ask your customers to do it – give them a bit of claim to fame.
4) Mobile – If you do not do it this year apparently you will be dead by the end of 2013. This was main message from specialists in this and other online marketing areas. Apart from couple of funny figures mainly “guesstimated” you could found out from speakers we have 4 billion internet enabled mobile devices in operation in the world and 5.9bn mobile phones altogether. All predictions for 2013 say this number will be higher then number of people in the world as soon as end of Q1.

Take away – four – make sure you have your mobile presence sorted – hot stuff is coming mostly from Android market and make sure you’re making a division between phone screen and tablet screen
5) Holistic marketing. When you decide to go ahead with promotion just make sure you talk this same language offline and online have decent approach to print as this will still run but needs online connections like QR codes and short URLs for each offer. Make sure when you do something you do this across the whole web. And perhaps the most important. Try to avoid country specific offers. This are old days tools now there is no borders. Your country local campaign will make it to social media in minutes and trust me you do not want to upset your followers from different countries and tell them they have to wait for this same offer another 2 months.

Take away number five – give it a go – all at once, use this same language, make easier  to customer to  switch marketing channels and make sure 4G is still ages away so create solutions which take advantage of downloadable material in case customer has no access to connection.

Now is all up to you – Go get your business in 21st century style cheap and effective.