broadcasting, converging, social networking, viewing

The power of being there: How CNN and Facebook brought the world to Washington

Obama_ inauguration_cnn_facebookthere's something uniquely powerful about being at an event.  being able to say "I was there", "I saw it happen".  events don't come much bigger than what happened yesterday when the USA got its 44th President.  such was the interest in the event that much of the UK broadcast schedules for the day were turned over to rolling coverage of the inauguration.

but if passively watching the event wasn't enough, CNN and Facebook allowed citizens from all over the world to get a bit closer to the action.  the two brands teamed up and co-sponsored a
live video stream of the inauguration on a co-branded microsite.  everyone who signed up to the Obama Inauguration Facebook page and changed their status were displayed on this microsite in real time for everyone to see.

what made this so powerful was the combination of the (CNN) broadcast stream in combination with the (Facebook) status frame on the right hand side of the page which automatically
updated the many and varied status updates from those around the world watching on.

a gloriously powerful meeting of mainstream and social media, with each making the other more powerful.  mainstream giving a sense of collective action – and arguably belonging – to the social space, with social media bringing a human, personal and individual presence to the broadcast space.

can we watch the event as though we were there?  well thanks to CNN and Facebook, yes, we can.

ps thanks to Mikhail for the heads up on this

advertising, blogging, branding, broadcasting, content creating, converging, engaging, listening, planning, regulating, researching, social networking, user-generating

Fighting the Future: reaching a rose-tinted concensus at the IPA 44 Club’s Future of Advertising in a Networked Society

A short history of marketing from jabi on Vimeo.

the rather lovely above video – by jabi – neatly sums up the collective dilemma of how brands, marketers and, specifically, agencies address the challenge of social media.  the issue was the topic of discussion last night at the IPA 44 Club's inaugural event of 2009:
The future of advertising in a networked society.  quite the session it was… here's the gist:

part one – report findings

  • social media = the online tools and platforms people use to share information, thoughts, opinions, content etc
  • problems is that brands are "crashing the party rather than hosting it" (Russell Davies)
  • many brands are experimenting but not getting traction in the area
  • we need a model of comms that reflects 'ME' as opposed to 'brand'
  • a model that's about conversation and participation rather than interruption and engagement
  • a model that incorporates David Armano's thinking about 'influence ripples'
  • Johnny X by Dare is a cracking example
  • which succeeded in concentrating the feeds into and out of it's online space (64% of upstream and 84% of downstream feeds came from 10 sites each)
  • planning social media should focus on targeting the few, that demonstrate: (1) expansiveness (propensity to chatter), (2) popularity (propensity to filter and target) and (3) reciprocity (likelihood to act)
  • network size is predictable, as is network flow, as is circulation

part two – agency survey

  • brands in a socially-networked world are more responsible for creating and disseminating the right information – brands should be more discretionary in what they produce [Mediation found this less than substantiated and at odds with Clay Shirky's comments at the MGEITF this year on filtering in a content-abundant world being after the fact, ie produce then allow the network to filter]
  • the way to reward brand advocates is not through financial incentive
  • the industry disagrees on two areas: (1) that advertising principles are the same in a networked society and (2) that social media behaves in a fundamentally new way
  • it is believed that most revenue is up for grabs in content creation, then data & insight, then market research & insight gathering (amongst others)
  • these new revenue streams represent £11bn of additional revenue opportunity, with another £5bn potentially
  • …which would be (exactly!) enough to meet the £16bn shortfall in industry revenues by 2016 predicted by the IPA's Future of Advertising and Agencies report of two years ago (£16bn = the difference between the IPA's 'Central' and 'Consumer' Scenarios)

part three – the discussion

I won't bullet this because it's getting late and you had to be there, but this was the better part of the evening with discussion ranging between philosophy of brands in a social media space to the (inevitable) measurement and accountability of such activity.

for me a kind of rose-tinted consensus was reached; consensus that went along the lines of:

  • marketing has always been about great social networking, the challenge is the same – getting the right content in the right place, its just that…
  • (1) people power is more potent (we have 500 networked connections not 50 disparate ones) and (2) we need to react to the context our message are in rather than control the context our messages are in
  • it's brilliant because we can react to real people in real time in the context of a real conversations
  • social media isn't a bolt on, it has to be woven into every brand touchpoint
  • brands need to behave differently, and understand that their relationship with consumers is – to consumers – much less important than consumers' relationships with other consumers

so in a nutshell social media is great because it's as old as the hills, better than the disruption model, measurable …and there's a freak-off big commercial opportunity for the brands and agencies that get it right.

I just don't think that it' that easy.  our industry is woefully
unprepared for the future.  there's some brilliant thinking and debate
going on, but the commercial models, joined-up industry measurement
systems, and marketing best practice principles – from a 'what works'
as opposed to a 'self-regulatory' point of view – just aren't moving
fast enough.

most importantly, not enough consideration was given
to the integration of broadcast and social media.  they're not going to
exist in isolation and broadcast media is going nowhere. iTunes didn't
kill CDs and Amazon didn't kill Waterstones.  social media certainly
won't kill mainstream broadcast media; the same mainstream broadcast
media that in the vast majority of instances provides social media
users with the content they comment on, pass on, or reappropriate for
their own ends.

the other interesting question is how the
behaviour of digital natives will evolve…  we're familiar with the
media 'hubs' that are the current crop of adolescent's bedrooms;
they're multi-tasking away across ten devices and infinite bits of
content.  but what happens when they grow-up?  how much of their social
media behaviour will they take with them into adulthood and how much
will they replace with the aggregated broadcast consumption of their

we live in interesting times; and I guess we wouldn't have it any other way.

one last word, I urge you to read JVW's post
about the event and specifically his debate on how the IPA can use social media
to get their social media report into more people's hands whilst not
impacting on revenues.  a pleasure and a joy.

regulating, social networking

Win-Win for Burger King as facebook witness over 200,000 network connections destroyed by Whopper Sacrifice

Whopper_sacrificeit's a win win for Burger King as, after "constructive conversations" with facebook, the chain pulls its innovative and – it would seem all too – popular 'Whopper Sacrifice' facebook application.

the application rewarded users with a free Whopper for every 10 friends they deleted from facebook.  the deleted friends, rather than realising three months down the line that they hadn't received a poke in a while, got a very explicit notice that they had been deleted in favour of a piece of meat.

all good fun, very innovative, and on-brand (demonstrating how much people love a Whopper) but with over 200,000 friends deleted, the social networking site felt obliged to step in, with a facebook spokesman commenting that:

"We encourage creativity from developers and companies using facebook Platform, but we also must ensure that applications meet
users' expectations.  After constructive conversations with Burger King and
the developer of the application, they have decided to conclude their
campaign rather than continue with the restrictions we placed on their
(source: AFP)

you have to sympathise with facebook.  they're a social networking site after all, and BK's application was – literally – destroying their network and therefore fundamentally, their revenue base.  but don't feel too bad for Burger King – the application did exactly what it was designed to do…  get people talking about Whoppers; something that the application's demise will only do more of.


Going public: how Metro leverages the value of reputation in a networked society

Mediation caught the above poster on a recent trip to the north.  it was posted on the Tyne & Wear Metro system and lists publicly the individuals who have been fined for travelling on the Metro network without a valid ticket.

it's really a rather remarkable piece of communication; listing so publicly and so prominently the names of individuals convicted of a crime.  posting names up where friends, family and bosses can (as I'm sure the individuals included are all too aware) readily see them.  the BBC's License fee campaign of a few years ago may have put our postcodes on 48s but it didn't go as far as broadcasting names, ages and area of residence up for all to see in a public space.  they're even available for download on the internet (here if you're so inclined).

whilst it is, of course, a contemporary version of a very long-standing tradition of using public knowledge of a crime to shame an individual – a tradition that goes back to the public stocks of centuries earlier – the sheer publicity of it still surprises.

the culture of the UK has a very established sense of privacy.  it's not like that everywhere.  in Finland – as Rory Sutherland observes in a post on his BrandRepublic blog – your salary is a matter of public record that anyone can inquire about via return of text message.  here that information is something you'd probably only share with HR, the tax man and your partner (and sometimes, Mediation imagines, not the latter).

what this – the above poster – is about, is reputation.  in a digitally-networked society, the importance of your reputation is heightened.  how good or respected you are is in many ways a matter of record for the network.

increasingly however, as citizens contribute to the collective contents of a culture thru user-generated-content, reputation takes on a heightened meaning; reputation becomes a valued commodity.  as Eric Raymond observes in his Cathedral and Bazaar, in a gift culture, you don't get paid in money by producing something
scarce (content is abundant); rather you give things away but get paid in reputation.  this blog is a case in point.

the individuals in the above poster may have been fined on average £265, but the cost to their reputation in a networked society may come to be far greater.

broadcasting, television, viewing

Taking the lead: how Doctor Who and Matt Smith prove the potent ability of broadcast TV to amplify a message in the digital age

two established and respected TV programmes.  two significant cast changes.  and that's about where the similarities end.  just before Christmas Channel 4 introduced us to the new cast of Skins, and on Saturday the BBC introduced us to the man who'll play the Doctor post his tenth regeneration in about a years time.

both aim to achieve the same two objectives: one, mitigate against viewer decline when an established lead or leads leave; and two, capitalise on any potential positive PR that results from the casting of the new guy or guys on the block.

but the ways in which each programme went about achieving those aims couldn't have been more different.  the principles undying the BBC's approach to Doctor Who were uber traditional from a commissioning pov.  hold back information (only 6 people knew prior to the announcement in a DW Confidential special on Saturday night), and broadcast to maximum effect.

Skins on the other hand has maintained the approach that has served it so well hereto: establish communities, seed information to them, and allow / use the community to spread the message.  the two approaches could be summarised as:


is one right? …or at least more right than the other?  well no, each channel is communicating as is right for that programme brand and its audience.  but a comparison of the results of each – as measured on Google Insights for Search – does show a clear benefit, at least in one regard, of one model versus the other.


comparative searches for skins, new skins, doctor who, new doctor who and matt smith as reported on Google Insights for Search application

both Skins terms (light blue and red) stay very consistent, the announcement of the new cast didn't seem to generate any significant interest (as measured by number of Google searches) at the time of release.  compare that with the BBC's broadcast approach…  searches for 'Doctor Who' (yellow) and 'New Doctor Who' (green) increased 5.2 and 7.5-fold respectively between Friday  2nd and Saturday 3rd Jan, the day the announcement was broadcast.

the real winner of course in Matt Smith, searches (shown above in purple) for whom increased one hundred fold (the maximum on the Google index); interest that Mr Smith should probably get used to.

broadcast TV sometimes seems rather under siege.  the dual forces of digital switchover and the evolution of on-demand hardware (including the humble desktop) sometimes paint an incorrect picture of the decline of the power broadcast TV.  but the power to amplify a message remains as potent as ever.  as this blog has argued before, the ability to broadcast a message to millions of people (over six million for Matt Smith according to the Guardian) becomes more rather than less important in a digital world.  TV may be changing in many ways, but it's unique ability to excite and unite around new news remains as powerful as ever.