They Want you!

Is the Montreal real estate market falling apart? Recently, I get this question asked at least 2-3 times a day! And the the answer issssss NO! Here is why.

First thing first: the economic situation of the city is in a relative good shape. There are a gazillion number of major infrastructure works that are pending or just about to begin. The city is falling apart, yes! But we Montrealer will prevail!!!! and It will be reshaped! Just look around….there are things happening! No questions about that…All of this despite the frenzy media circus that Montreal has been inflicted for the past couple of years with all the allegations of corruption, collusion especially in the construction industry; and yet, the employment situation holds!

Second, the interest rates are still at an incredible bargain! Buyers can get deals as low as 2.85% for a 5 years mortgage rate. The good new is that these rates will not increase for a while (according to me of course). Third, there is a difference when the media talks about an overflow of new housing inventory between what is available now and what will be available then.

Let me try to explain. You can buy your dream home on a plan and wait until construction begins and completes, but you can also find your new home right now through the different projects that have housing inventory completely build and ready for immediate occupancy. Sounds good doesn’t it?  The demand from buyers for immediate occupancy is well balanced with the available inventory. Funny, that few talk about this! In Fact, it is all about perception! Ahhhhhh that perception that becomes reality! Not based on economic facts but based on emotions (often fuelled by the media in bloody search of bad news…), that perception that creates the environment! Now you gonna tell me: then what? YOU the buyer can take advantage of the gigantic deals that YOU can now make out there! Hello buyer, wake up!!!! Builders and promoters want YOU! So stop procrastinating and get out there ready to make that deal happen. It is in any case the best investment of your life!

On a lighter note, let me share a cool video I have had the chance to participate. The clip makes you think….and features Quartier A,  from Melatti Construction. It was a delight working with Gleb Gomberg and the team from Ovatio an independent creative boutique style agency!

..and now click here and enjoy the clip!

 

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17
May 2013
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Launching Fm3.ca

Yes, it took me one full year to finally launch this new web/blog! I would like to thank Andrew Farrugia and his team for putting this together and I wish him all the best for the new year. Andrew has been a strict collaborator and he is now going back to his native country Malta! I want to thank Narcis Benga from Group Media Vision http://www.groupmediavision.com/ for kindly hosting the site.

2011 has been a year of great change for all. People of the world have experienced profound social, economic and political changes and looking back in retrospective I feel I have been part of this great turmoil.

Luckily enough, I was able to collaborate with so many great people, customers, friends that encouraged me and stood by me in good times and tougher times. One person in particular had a tremendous impact in my professional life: Felix Cotte. A supernatural prototype of a human being on steroids that never stops to think, work, act and move. His vision has thought me great lessons! His kindness and diplomacy has bought me humility. Thank you my good friend!

I also want to thank that incredible duo of Séverine Jacquart and Denis Sauvé editors of the portal www.guideHabitation.ca Collaborating with them and bringing results to our clients has been an immense pleasure.

Finally, I could not miss to thank all of my dear clients that gave me the opportunity to serve them in 2011 and that continue to believe that team work well executed has real value for their business and their clients.

Having said that I wish you all the most fabulous moments alongside your family during this holiday season!

Maurizio

p.s.

If you have not seen it yet i dare you!!!! watching this video clip produced for the kick off of fm3.ca http://youtu.be/T1ZGM5gDDUY

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24
Dec 2011
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Boring Sites vs Interactive Sites

No questions about what is going on in 2011. The web is moving at a fast rate. Changes and new ideas everywhere. I happen to provide consulting services on web media and integrated marketing strategies for builders and promoters in the greater Montreal area. Very often I see companies designing static web sites to showcase their projects. Text, pictures, more pictures and even more pictures. Very few call to action. A totally uninteresting users experience. I could just imagine how boring it could be for someone looking for a new home and land on some static and uninteresting builder site that looks like it was created by some obscure developer working in the dark ages of ergonomic, design and usability. Yes I know, the customer is always right and the look and feel of a web site is a very subjective matter; but let me tell you that a practical, quick and pleasant experience is what users will remember. New home seekers want to find the right property with only a few clicks. So why put a lot of emphasis on boring text and dozens of pictures when it is a fact that customers will spend their time on a builders web site visiting plans and what unit is available to them? They want to achieve this with a few clicks! Fast, pertinent and easy to understand. That’s it!

Sometimes a bright star comes along! The folks at 3D Visionic Interactive communication agency www.3dvisionic.com worked their butts off to launch a fabulous tool that allows users to find the right property within the reach of a few clicks. Now that is what I call thinking about the user!

The application is connected with any builders web site, thus moving away from a static visit into an interactive one! Check out this link of a Montreal builder that happened to integrate the F1nd application: http://f1nd.ca/espacesmitchell/ca/qc/condominium/ville-saint-laurent/condo-a-vendre-a-ville-st-laurent/fr/x1x1x1x1x/1/

 In my book this is where web interactivity in the home building arena is going.

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23
Mar 2011
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Social Media : ME-ME-ME always Me….

We all have something new to share, we all have tons of information ready and available instantenously, we all want to connect and make the web a better place for sharing information, ideas and keep connected. But I got to tell you that some companies and especially lots of individuals just don’t get it….. Fundamentally Social Media is not about you or your company or your services/products it is about THEM! I don’t care what people say, but posting that you ar buying your bananas at your favourite fruit store does not concern anyone. WE DONT CARE! Even worse, knowing that you became the mayor of your favorite video store is of no use for anyone but the store owner that is renting you Blu Rays and making a living out of it….But then again, maybe it’s me (me again)who doesn’t get it. I might have missed something in my technological quest…

This happens often. Just read around and you will laugh your head out on how egocentric sometime we can all be! A few weeks ago a client insisted to display his picture and long bio and all the great things he had done on the landing page of his web site. And yet this client his selling new homes. He is selling the dream of a lifetime, he is selling a way of life, he is selling our ultimate dream…A new home! What this particular individual did not understand is that people landing on his page want to live an emotional experience by looking at the possibility of having found their dream home. They are not looking at finding out who to worship…(that will come later, if you exceed expactations)….People want you to be real, honest and deliver a first interactive pleasant web experience. Period!

In her best selling book Michelle Blanc one of the most notorious blogger author and consultant in the entire francophone community http://michelleblanc.com/, she shared a link in one of her postings that could be very useful on setting up your company social media strategy. Check it out at http://www.jmorganmarketing.com/rolling-out-a-social-media-strategy/

 

Finally, If you are an individual…. well just be interesting and share pertinent information… As a matter of fact, someone long, long time ago said (I dont remember who it was, I believe a philosopher…) “tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are”….. So I tell you this today: “tell us what you write and we will tell you who your are!” That is guaranteed!

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24
Jan 2011
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Augmented reality: it’s like real life, but better

Charles Arthur (Chief Technology Editor from the Guardian in the UK) wrote this great piece of technology journalism back in March 2010. Here is the integral version of his article.

 

March 21, 2010. The Guardian. By Charles Arthur.

 

Don’t act too surprised if, some time in the next year, you meet someone who explains that their business card isn’t just a card; it’s an augmented reality business card. You can see a collection and, at visualcard.me, you can even design your own, by adding a special marker to your card, which, once put in front of a webcam linked to the internet, will show not only your contact details but also a video or sound clip. Or pretty much anything you want.

It’s not just business cards. London Fashion Week has tried them out too: little symbols that look like barcodes printed onto shirts, which, when viewed through a webcam, come to life. Benetton is using augmented reality for a campaign that kicked off last month, in which it is trying to find models from among the general population.

Augmented reality – AR, as it has quickly become known – has only recently become a phrase that trips easily off technologists’ lips; yet we’ve been seeing versions of it for quite some time. The idea is straightforward enough: take a real-life scene, or (better) a video of a scene, and add some sort of explanatory data to it so that you can better understand what’s going on, or who the people in the scene are, or how to get to where you want to go.

Sports coverage on TV has been doing it for years: slow-motion could be described as a form of augmented reality, since it gives you the chance to examine what happened in a situation more carefully. More recently cricket, tennis, rugby, football and golf have all started to overlay analytic information on top of standard-speed replays – would that ball have hit the stumps, the progress of a rally, the movement of the backs or wingers, the relative flights of shots – to tell you more about what’s going on. Probably the most common use is in American football where the “first down” line – the distance the team has to cover to continue its offence – is superimposed on the picture for viewers.

But those required huge systems. AR took its first lumbering steps into the public arena eight years ago: all that you needed to do was strap on 10kg of computing power – laptop, camera, vision processor – and you could get an idea of what was feasible. The American Popular Science magazine wrote about the idea in 2002 – but the idea of being permanently connected to the internet hadn’t quite jelled at that point.

“AR has been around for ages,” says Andy Cameron, executive director of Fabrica, an interactive design studio which works with Benetton, “maybe going back as far as the 1970s and art installations that overlaid real spaces with something virtual.” He mentions in particular the work of pioneering computer artist Myron Krueger.

What’s changed in the past year is that AR has come within reach of all sorts of developers – and the technology powerful enough to make use of it is owned by millions of people, often in the palms of their hands.

The arrival of powerful smartphones and computers with built-in video capabilities means that you don’t have to wait for the AR effects as you do with TV. They can simply be overlaid onto real life. Step forward Apple’s iPhone, and phones using Google’s Android operating system, both of which are capable of overlaying information on top of a picture or video.

Within the small world of AR, one of the best-known apps is that built by Layar, which – given a location, and using the iPhone 3GS’s inbuilt compass to work out the direction you’re pointing the phone – can give you a “radar map” of details such as Wikipedia information, Flickr photos, Google searches and YouTube videos superimposed onto a picture you’ve taken of the scene. For Americans, it will also pull in details from the government’s economic Recovery Act – so that if you’re on Wall Street and want to see how many billions went into which building, it will show you.

Or, more usefully, Yelp offers an augmented reality application that will show you ratings and reviews for a restaurant before you walk in – the sort of thing that could make restaurants quiver with delight, or shudder in horror.

Or maybe it wouldn’t need to know where it is; only who it’s looking at. A prototype application demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February took things a little further again. Point the phone at a person and if it can find their details, it will pull them off the web and attach details – their Twitter username, Facebook page and other facts – and stick them, rather weirdly, into the air around their head (viewed through your phone, of course). “It’s taking social networking to the next level,” says Dan Gärdenfors, head of user experience research at The Astonishing Tribe, a Swedish mobile software company.

And there are fabulously useful applications: at Columbia University, computer science professor Steve Feiner and PhD candidate Steve Henderson have created their Augmented Reality for Maintenance and Repair (Armar) project. It combines sensors, head-up displays, and instructions to tackle the military’s maintenance needs: start working on a piece of kit, and the details about it pop up in front of you. Imagine if you could put on a pair of special goggles when you needed to investigate your car’s engine, or a computer’s innards, and the detail would pop up. That’s the sort of idea that Armar is trying to implement, though for the military at first..

Yet it’s fashion which seems to have leapt quickest into this technology. The T-shirt with AR in London Fashion Week was developed by Cassette Playa, a label that has been worn by Lily Allen, Rihanna and Kanye West. Carri Munden, who designed it with the Fashion Digital Studio at the London College of Fashion, described it as “mixing reality and fantasy”. Adidas, too, has launched trainers with AR symbols in the tongues: hold them to a webcam and you are taken to interactive games on the Adidas site.

The process by which the strange symbols get translated into images is simple enough: the website takes the feed from your webcam (you have to explicitly allow it to do so, so there are no security worries) and analyses it for the particular set of symbols that the program is looking for. (Some easy calculations mean the symbols can be detected whichever way up you hold the item.) Videos and pictures are then sent back to you.

Andy Cameron says that the arrival of an open-source, hence free, AR tool kit has let companies build their own AR applications, using Flash – the pervasive animation and video technology used for many online ads and YouTube’s videos – “which immediately meant you had huge penetration, because Flash is everywhere”. (Something like 98% of all computers are reckoned to have Adobe’s Flash Player installed.)

“If you build your AR application with Flash, then you can get it out to everybody in the world with a computer with a webcam,” says Cameron.

Benetton is using AR in its latest campaign, called “It’s My Time” which aims to get members of the public to put themselves forward as potential models, and uses AR to show more details about existing models. But its first most visible use of AR was last year in issue 76 of Benetton’s Colors magazine, a quarterly fashion product. Dozens of pages have AR symbols: hold the page up to a webcam, and you see film and more photos of the person on the page. “The Colors editor and the creative director of Fabrica got very excited about it,” says Cameron.

Cameron can see huge potential which could even revive the fortunes of print advertising. “Think of a commercial page, an advert, in a fashion magazine. It’s pretty expensive. With this – and this is the way that the more hard-nosed people in Benetton saw the advantage – it means that you can get more products on the page.” Print an AR code, get people to come to the site, and you can show them so much more, while measuring the return from your effort.

The technical cost is a tiny part of the overall effort. “The printing and photography cost [of the advert] is the same. And the development cost is pretty small.”

And of course where advertisers go, the publications that house them are sure to go as well. Esquire magazine in the US and Wallpaper* in Europe have done “augmented reality” editions, with Robert Downey Jr coming to life on the cover of the former, and AR text providing videos and animation in the latter. But there are more possibilities for journalism using AR: for example if you “geotag” newspaper articles (so that you say that an item relates to a particular place) then someone visiting a site could learn about events relevant to the area via their smartphone.

Book publishers too are leaping in: Carlton Publishing will release an AR book in May, featuring dinosaurs that pop out of the pages when viewed, yes, through a webcam. Future releases include war, sport and arts titles which will also have extra AR elements.

Yet in media it’s the advertisers who are most excited. The possibilities of geotagged, targeted adverts – which in effect hang in the air until someone comes along to find them with a smartphone – or of AR adverts which open up a whole new world of opportunities (and perhaps discounts or loyalty bonuses) when you follow them through – are yet another glimpse of the holy grail ofads that know exactly who and where you are.

Is there a risk that we’ll all become AR’d out – that it will become boring as advert after advert invites us to hold it up to a webcam? “What’s hot today is ancient history tomorrow,” says Cameron. “There have been a lot of bad uses of this technology with a rush to use it. We have had the chance to reflect on what it means and how to use it. The key is that it should be an enhancement of the stuff on the printed page.”

Even so we’re still in the early stages, he argues. “It’s very primitive – having to use a webcam, holding a magazine up to it. Obviously we’re really interested in the opportunities with handheld devices. It’s very frustrating that the iPhone doesn’t allow access to the live video stream.” (Nor does it run Flash, another problem for would-be AR designers.) “People in design are very annoyed with Steve Jobs,” he observes. “We don’t really understand why Apple won’t allow that.”

Given that access, he says, “you could hold your iPhone up to a billboard and get something amazing right there”. What about the alternative, such as Google’s Android-based Nexus phone? “It looks like you could do it on that,” he says. But of course the iPhone is a target market. “Maybe Apple wants to keep that for itself,” Cameron says. “Maybe they’re lodging patents. Or maybe the processor on the iPhone isn’t fast enough.”

Yet there are some who think that AR has already had its brief time in the sun. At the Like Minds conference in Exeter at the beginning of March, Joanne Jacobs, a social media consultant, described an AR application that demanded you buy a T-shirt and then go and sit in front of your webcam – so you could play Rock, Paper, Scissors. By yourself.

“It’s hopeless,” Jacobs said.

Cameron admits to some uncertainty about AR’s measurable impact. “I don’t know if it sells more things, but it seems clearly a good thing if we can get people who may be customers to participate in the adverts.” But, he adds: “If people start to play with the adverts in a way that exposes them to more products, that’s got to help bring a commercial return.”

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14
Jan 2011
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What are Advergames?

Over the past few years, more and more companies have been introducing their products and services through games played on the web. This technique is called advergames. It enables reinforcing brand name, joining hundreds of thousands of captive users, interacting with consumers, avoids zapping and defines the products through a simple cycle : associating it, illustrating it and demonstrating it.

Here is an Advergames exemple. It is about an automatic lawn mower called Ambrogio the Robot: http://zucchetti.esimple.it/ Cool. Simple and Fun!

According to research, close to 40% of all internet users are now playing on line!

Advergames are intended to capture, through simple, though appealing games, the attention of users who become brand aware in a non-invasive and enjoyable way. The users decides if he or she wants to play!

Advergames reaches out to teensters (35%) and users aged between 18 and 35 years old on average. If your company intends to maximize the placement of a specific or line of products with an advergame, here are a few tips: do not be afraid, be daring and original, laugh at yourself, do not underestimate your audience!

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04
Jan 2011
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Augmented Reality

From Wikipedia:

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated sensory input such as sound or graphics. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.

Check this out this post by Mashable on his Blog for some real exemple of AR: http://mashable.com/2009/12/26/augmented-reality-marketing/

Virtual worlds, interaction between users, interaction between shoppers and supplliers will be key to the next web experience. Will Santa be Reality or just Augmented Reality?

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21
Dec 2010
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Chaque entreprise a besoin d’un laboratoire d’innovation

Marketing mesurable, marketing d’innovation, investir dans le marketing, appelez ça comme vous voulez, il reste que plus on parle aux « gens de marketing » et plus on se rend compte que la bonne vieille formule 20/80 fonctionne à merveille. On s’investit à 80% dans ce qu’on fait de mieux et on innove avec le 20% qui reste.

Le marketing d’innovation adhère parfaitement à cette thèse, en effet, toutes les nouvelles idées générées par le 20% d’innovation seront incluses dans le 80% et celles qui n’ont pas fonctionné, on y vit avec! Ce qui est primordial c’est de s’assurer que les résultats (positifs ou négatifs) soient mesurables. Pour survivre, nous devons tous essayer des nouvelles idées afin d’atteindre notre auditoire, notre marché.

Au lieu d’essayer de vendre sur une base aléatoire, de se battre pour des budgets de plus en plus restreints, nous devons continuer sur le boulevard de l’innovation, car c’est inspirant, c’est rafraîchissant et ça nous amène à écrire comme ça…

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12
Dec 2010
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Is web 3D the next Web 3.0?

The web has undergone continual evolution parallel to the advancements in technology: from the experiments on hypertext links dating back to the early 1990s, to flash websites integrating sound effects and animations at the onset of the new Millennium, up to the latest developments, which include video and social networks.

Today innovative companies like www.esimple.it bring to the web a whole new dimension through the fascinating and versatile world of 3D. One would say: 3D????? Nothing new! 3D modeling is a wide spread technique in design and rendering images. The real novelty is the 3D experience applied to the web. 3D has been mainly developed in the video games and cinematography world. Today, web 3D business applications are being developed in an innovative marketing context. Web 3D applications bring to life an intensive emotional experience otherwise unimaginable with traditional tools.

Many experts consider today web 3D as the next web 3.0. Users will be able to walk through structures and interact with other users (see a very simple example of a virtual walk through at www.geusatoprimamano.com) with virtual avatars. We will see virtual malls, virtual shows, cities, buildings and entire structures created with real life quality rendering of images. Add to that the 3D component and the first companies adopting theses web based platforms will gain on the WOW effect of users experience, thus attracting awareness, brand recognition and media attention!

I predict that the web 3D will be the next wave replacing the current static web world mainly composed of images, videos and text. What do you think?

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08
Dec 2010
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La construction domiciliaire à l’air du web

Je ne parlerai pas aujourd’hui de construction, collusion, corruption, mais bien de webintrusion dans le monde de la construction domiciliaire! Hé oui, La construction domiciliaire est infiltrée. En effet, ce domaine très attaché à la presse imprimée et qui a toujours dépensé des fortunes en marketing traditionnel pour afficher les projets en construction, est en train de se tourner vers le marketing web! Le web a infiltré la construction!!!

Les demandes de réalisation de sites web n’ont cessé de croître, même dans un contexte économique difficile! Les dollars en dépenses publicitaires ont augmenté de façon significative vers des portails spécialisés en marketing d’affichage, publicité en ligne, SEO, SEM et placement média web. Tout ceci au détriment du bon vieux papiers (By the way, j’adore Le Devoir!). Il ne s’agit pas d’une tendance mais d’un fait. D’une réalité qui est là pour rester. Un fait irréversible. il reste encore beaucoup à faire surtout à l’extérieur de l’Ile de Montréal (ahhhh ce fameux 450….), mais on sent que la vague est arrivée.

Les promoteurs immobiliers ont compris que leur dépenses marketing diminuent et en plus ils obtiennent un trafic qualifié et une visibilité accrue. Tout est là pour que les promoteurs puissent profiter de cette manne pour une fraction des dépenses marketing….L,infiltration se propage! Qui va parler?

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24
Nov 2010
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