decision-making, planning

How we buy what we buy: what McKinsey have learned about our non-linear non-funnel decision-making processes

Funnel Mikhail has pointed me in the direction of a report published yesterday on WARC by McKinsey which articulates what I suspect many of us have know for a long time…  that – in general – consumer purchase behaviour is non-linear and certainly not a funnel.

their study, conducted across three continents and involving qual then nearly 20,000 quant participants, found that purchase behaviour was "changing dramatically" mainly due to an increase in consumer empowerment.  we touched on transparency of product on these pages recently when we had to explain to poor Michael Bay that advertising can't make good products bad, but the extent to which this information is significantly affecting consumer behavior as a whole is now becoming very apparent.

according to David Court at McKinsey, decision making has four stages… (1) ongoing exposure during which time people "see and hear about brands", followed by (2) a trigger which instigates someone to then consider a narrow range of brands and explore and evaluate their options – during the course of which they come across more brands.

notice the reversal of the funnel – it starts narrow and gets wider during the decision-making journey…  brands that seek to reach consumers at the point which will most influence their decision take note.

(3) is the moment of purchase – where the final decision is actually made – and this is followed post-purchase by (4) a loyalty loop.  Mediation is a big fan of research into loyalty and what's brilliant about this study is that it goes beyond purchase to evaluate what happens afterwards.

it identifies active loyalists (our traditional view) who then won't consider other brands, but this person is much less common that one demonstrating passive loyalty – where a brand will be automatically considered next time but not exclusively.  the following diagram from McKinsey sums it all up:


this is really important for anyone planning media and communications…  I've feared for a while that at the back of a lot of planners (and indeed marketers) heads is the AIDA model telling them that as long as they get enough awareness up front the rest will follow.  this is dangerous thinking.  according to this report media that is always on, as well as on demand play fundamental and ongoing roles on schedules which should be consumer-decision rather than campaign based.


Things media and communications can’t change #147: why advertising can’t turn Transformers 2 into a good movie

Transformers_2_Bay oh dear.  Michael Bay probably regrets the memo – leaked to and reported in post on TMZ – he sent to Paramount in which he called the film's print campaign an "abject failure".  telling the studio that "you talk so glowingly about Transformers being the movie of the summer, but unfortunately this has not got to the public … I have been waiting and waiting for the anticipation of an 'event movie' to make it into the 'public zeitgeist' … Right now, we are not an event, we are just a sequel, which is very different. There is no anticipation. Remember back to Spider-Man 2 – it was everywhere."

all together now…  "advertising can't turn a bad product into a good one Michael".  I guess that in fairness we used to be able to get away with it; there was less choice, hits ruled the tail, and we didn't always know what we were buying until we'd bought it.

information and knowledge transparency: we all have instant access to what the world knows.  we can research, reveal and review products and services in a second.  no one takes a punt on anything anymore – why would you when everything has been reviewed and rated by the crowd…  we don't rely on the promise of a glitzed up poster any more.

Bay's issue – that advertising can't make people watch a bad movie – is something I think we all struggle with from time to time…  we all of us – clients and agencies alike – want the products and services on which we work to be a success.  we look for the best in them, be it a nuanced intrinsic we can pull out or a genius consumer insight that will activate behavioural change.

situations where brands are divorced from products and services are at best a sticking plaster and at worst a disaster waiting to happen.  perception get's out of step with reality.  marketing (and specifically media spend) becomes an expensive cost of being in business.

some of the best marketing stories emerge when communications are a natural extension of product.  no one should know this better than movies…  Blair Witch and The Matrix brought us Transmedia Storytelling, Cloverfield was a powerplay for The Mystery Box, The Dark Knight's Vote Harvey Dent ARG was genius, even SAW understands what it's really about and has a theme park ride.

there's a reason Transformers 2 didn't make it into the 'public zeitgeist' and it's got nothing to do with it's marketing and everything to do with it not being very good.  I've seen it, it's a really, really bad movie which represents 147 minutes of my life that I'm never getting back; and in an age of radical transparency the best marketing campaign in the world can't change that.

engaging, experiencing, social networking, sponsoring, user-generating

‘Plausible Promise’: what Clay Shirky and Eric Roberts can teach us about devising successful big ideas

Clay Shirky opens up his Here Comes Everybody with the story of Evan Guttman, who used social media tools to help his friend Ivanna retrieve her lost phone when the finder – a young lady called Sasha – refused to return it to it's rightful owner.  he makes the observation however that these evolving social media tools (online publishing, forums, wikis, online social networks etc) are on their own not enough…

"[social media] tools are simply a way of channeling existing motivation.  Evan was driven, resourceful, and unfortunately for sasha, very angry.  had he presented his mission in completely self-interested terms ("help my friend save $300!") or in unattainably general ones ("let's fight theft everywhere!"), the tools he chose wouldn't have mattered.  what he did was to work out a message framed in big enough terms to inspire interest, yet achievable enough to inspire confidence."

you need what he quotes Eric Roberts with calling, 'plausible promise'.  and it was this idea of plausible promise that occurred to me when I saw the above mastercard ad for The Eden Project's 'big lunch'.  which is – to quote the mastercard website:

"a national initiative developed by the Eden Project to bring the
country together, by asking you to sit down with your neighbours for
lunch in a simple act of community … on Sunday 19th July, the nation will witness the
street party to end all street parties. The organisers of The Big Lunch
are inviting as many of the UK's 61 million people as possible to
simultaneously sit down together, to meet, eat, talk, laugh and feel

the event – for which there's also a film-making initiative in association with Raindance – has social media at it's heart and is using Twitter, Flickr et al to enable interested parties to organise themselves into action.  but I'm skeptical about the 'plausible promise' of it all…  big enough to inspire interest, yet achievable enough to inspire confidence?

it's certainly big enough, with mastercard's not-insignificant investment behind the above 40" tv ad campaign, but is it achievable?  despite a brilliant and very functional website, will individuals really organise themselves into having lunch with a bunch of people they don't know in order to 'feel hope'?

it possibly most likely that people who already know each other will perhaps drag themselves into action using the big lunch as a sufficient reason to do so; but I fear that this fails on the second of Roberts' requirements.  it's simply not – I fear – very plausible.  any marketers and agencies would do well to check to what extent an initiative they decide to undertake fulfills the two plausible promise tests.

marketing success for initiatives of this type require more than just promise; they need to feel real, achievable.  they need to feel plausible; and I worry that this doesn't.  I hope that the big lunch is a success.  I hope it brings people together, I hope that it makes a difference, and I hope that the time, effort and investment that has gone into making it happen is worth it.


Digital Britain published. Top-Slicing given green light. Can open. Worms everywhere.

Digital_Britain if you've been following coverage of the publication of Carter's long-awaited Digital Britain report this afternoon (Guardian covering it here) you'll already be aware of the main points.  they are – as reported in the link previous – as follows:

  • Illegal filesharing is "tantamount to theft", repeat offenders will have their broadband connection reduced
  • Part of the BBC licence fee will be used to fund universal broadband access
  • But also a levy will be placed on all fixed phone lines to help pay for universal broadband
  • A small part of the licence fee digital switchover surplus will fund regional news pilots between now and 2013
  • Talks between BBC and C4 are ongoing
  • Martha Lane Fox to become "digital inclusion champion"

point four has big implications.  the government has essentially given the green light to top-slicing the BBC's licence fee.  not as a one-off to pay for universal broadband (ie digital infrastructure) but for content not provided for by the BBC.

this is government-legislated revenues being used to support content provision by commercial broadcasters.  in other words, they are no longer commercial broadcasters.  there'll no doubt be much debate as a result, but bottom line…

can open.  worms.  everywhere…

product placing

In praise of Product Placement: Why ‘The Superbowl for Women’ is a true reflection of the branded world in which we live

Sex_and_the_city so for one reason or another I found myself watching Sex and the City at the weekend.  the event was preceded on Friday lunchtime by colleagues warning me about the pervasive and excessive (their words) product placement in the movie.  I was bracing myself for the worst.

there was no need.  not only did I not find the product placement intrusive, but thought that it genuinely added to the movie (which for the record I didn't love and thought CB was intensely annoying throughout, but I'm using it as a vehicle for a post on product placement).

the internet seems to agree with my colleagues.  a post on Adrants notes that a panel for Brandchannel's Brandcameo (which conducts product placement in film studies so knows about these things) selected Sex and the City for their Film Whore award; awarded to the film that most "sold out" for product placement.

delightfully, Vanity Fair sent not one but two reporters to the movie.  they happily counted no less than 67 brands that appear in the movie, which you can explore here.  this is perhaps not surprising given that the same article reports how a New Line Cinema exec coined the movie the 'Super Bowl for women'.

I've never had a problem with product placement.  we live in a branded world, where the meanings, symbolism and trappings of brands pervade not only what we consume but why we consume them.  they in part define us and we in part define ourselves by them.  to quote John Kay:

"I am irresistible, I say, as I put on my designer fragrance.  I am a merchant banker, I say, as I climb out of my BMW.  I am a juvenile lout, I say, as I pour an extra strong lager.  I am handsome, I say, as I put on my Levi jeans."

what would be weird would be a movie without brands.  where the reality of brands was pasted out in favour of, what exactly? …editorial or cultural purity?  there is no such so-called purity to protect.  the 20th Century's walls that separated advertising and content are being pulled down.  not because we have to (although in many instances – PVRs etc – we do) but because a media and communications ecology in which brands are able to tell their stories by attaching and associating themselves to real stuff is better than one in which 30" stall after 25×4 after 30" stall is wheeled out to effective frequency us into submission.

Movies are better for having brands, where appropriate, in them.  those who argue that the appropriate level is zero should take a look around them, because that's not the world in which they live.

internet, social networking

result! : why setting my alarm for 4:55am this morning to log on to Facebook was worth it to secure my online identity

Facebook_username_2 alarm went off at 4.45, at 5.53 the snooze kicked in and I grabbed my laptop and logged on.  Facebook's countdown clicked away and at zero a simple click of a continue button gave me my username options.  seamless.

as a result I can now be found at  and whilst at twenty past five on a Saturday morning this may not seem like the most earth-shatteringly brilliant thing, I suspect that in the future I'll be glad I woke myself up to secure the little place of the social graph that I wanted for my own.

internet, social networking

The scramble to secure our online identities: why I’ll be setting my alarm for 4:55am tomorrow morning to log on to Facebook

Facebook_username so as I start this post I have 13 hours, 25 mins and 38 seconds before I have to join a scramble in order to stake a claim on a big piece of my online identity.  at that time – 5.01 (am) tomorrow morning UK time – Facebook will allow users to select, on a first come first served basis, a username for their account.  so that instead of being my Facebook web address could be

as a Facebook blog post explains: "Your new Facebook URL is like your personal destination, or home, on
the Web. People can enter a Facebook username as a search term on
Facebook or a popular search engine like Google, for example, which
will make it much easier for people to find friends with common names"

it may be easy to dismiss the move as a marketing stunt, or just another in a series of initiatives that have seen the book evolve its offering over the last few years.  but in a world where our online identities are becoming increasingly important, the username you get may be more important than you think.

in What Would Google Do?, Jeff Jarvis observes how one consequence of online identities is that names are becoming more unique.  indeed many parents are registering the url of their child's name at birth (and some have even decided on a name on the basis of the url being available). in a world where everyone can exist in the same space, diversity of identity counts.

so will I be setting my alarm in the morning to register?  yes I probably will.  there's quite a lot of Chris Stephenson's out there…  from the General Manager of Global Consumer Marketing, TV, Video & Music Business of Zune, to the wrestler ranked 334th by Pro-Wrestling Illustrated 500 in 1997.  I'm neither of those.  I'm me.  and it's important that my online identity reflects that.  looks like I will be setting that alarm – only 13 hours, 6 mins and 53 secs to go…


In search of the ‘right’ media weight: why planners have to be people and idea centric when planning channels

Weight_lifting this is honestly a picture you get on the first page when you Google images for 'weights'  honest.  click here if you don't believe me… (source)

right, I thought I'd share a question I was asked and the answer I gave.  would be interested in what other people thought on this…


"What is the right media weight?"

"Sounds simple enough and when it comes to TV people seem to just know or we have some sort of Excel macro model which will help you put some pseudo science behind it but my main concern is other channels. For example – I’ve seen some stuff on the ppa website which recommends planning weekly GRPs with 30 / week banded around at some point in the article. But what about digital? What about outdoor? Is that right for print? Does it carry through to newspapers?  I suppose what I’m trying to get to is what is the ideal campaign?"


It’s an impossible question.  theoretically there is probably a ‘best’ weight for a
broadcast media channel (be it AV, print etc), where ‘best’ = most coverage / notice for least investment /
activity.  but there are influencers that will hugely affect and
ultimately change what the ideal weight is…

Creative – how strong or good is it… the better (and
that’s a fat word but run with it) the less ‘media’ you probably need
Brand – popular / loved / sought-for brands (I’d suggest)
get away with lighter weights than the Ronseals of the world
Proposition / offer – attractive propositions or offers
generally need less weight – COI need more than hotly anticipated movies
Competitive context – more competitors (and more aggressive
competitors) will push up the weight you need to plan – eg supermarkets

To a large extent these are factors beyond the control of the media
(although not the comms) plan; there are two other key factors however that lie very much within your control that
determine best and relative weights

Media combination – the channel’s you’re using and the
relative effort in each will determine weights within channels (eg as a sweeping generalisation big TV =
only activation press)

Push versus pull – this is the biggie…  because all of the
above is based on the premise that all media works in the same way (AIDA models etc).  but this isn’t necessarily the case.  online media generally
isn’t pushed (although we’re doing our collective best to saturate the internet with display ads). rather it’s sought, word of mouthed (or moused), demanded,
controlled, aggregated, and of course ignored (depending on how you look at it)…  the weight needed for an amazing bit of content or
application could be two blogs (as it was in a recent bit of Anorak work for a
Madonna single).

What does this mean for media planning?

It means the question has to be turned on its head – rather
than asking what’s right for a media channel, you have to ask what’s right for the person you’re trying to

to quote (if you'll indulge me) the Vizeum website:

Rather than thinking, “what does the brand want to say?” we begin with: “what do consumers want to engage with?”
Rather than thinking, “what does the media plan look like?” we ask ourselves: “what is the story of engagement that we want to create?”

put simply, we need to turn the media plan on its head.  for too long planners have started with traditional solutions and then tried to
build in interaction and innovation at the back end.  we [Vizeum] start by identifying the defining moment – when people can participate in
and interact with the brand – and then build everything else around that moment

the right media weight is the right combination of weights
that will navigate the right people to that moment when people can and will most readily interact
with a brand.  the right media weight is the balancing act between all the
external and internal forces above.  but above all the right media weight is dependent on the
power of your idea…

Brilliant communication ideas have gravity – they pull
people (who pull other people) towards them.  media weight (and media planning) is therefore not about
being about channel centric, rather it’s about being people and idea centric.  and a good job too – otherwise the world would need a great
fewer media planners

brand extending, innovating, selling

When brand extensions become ads: How Jack Daniels is creating the most innovative of point of sale assets

Jack_daniel_woodchips_2 so Phil and Eva were shopping at the weekend and arrived at Vizeum this morning with tales of Jack Daniels woodchips.  it is true.  Jack Daniels have extended their brand into not only wood smoking chips but briquets too, allowing each of us to have great smokin flavour BBQs whenever we want.  and at the start of summer too.

the products have some great reviews on Amazon; b. observes that "within minutes, you'll be treated to the sweetest
smelling wood this side of anywhere"
, perhaps because the chips are made from the actual barrels used to make JD.  so – great marketing story one – the product extension genuinely tells part of the brand story.

the second reason we like this is the margin.  the list price on Amazon for a 2lb bag of chips is $9.99, compared to between $4 and $6 for other bags.  the reviews refer to the cost for say its totally worth it.  heritage and brand are being monetised very effectively indeed.

but the third and real genius of this brand extension is the sheer volume of space it gets on you shelf in a new and different part of the store.  its top-notch media space right at the point of purchase…  brand's offer love and money for valuable space like this.  Jack Daniels have innovated their way in whilst at the same time commanding a premium and augmenting their brand story.  lovely.

ps they do sauces too!

advertising, broadcasting, buying, content creating, converging, measuring, television, viewing

More questions than answers: fighting for the future of digital broadcast in Mediatel’s playground

Mediatel_playground yesterday Mediatel held their annual Media Playground and Mediation popped along for the afternoon seminar discussing Digital Broadcast.  it's a broad topic area, covering emerging technologies, content, changing consumer behaviours and rapidly evolving business models.  one thing is clear – we have a lot more questions than we have answers.

it was apparent that we're entering an age of complexity in how content is created, deployed and consumed.  no one solution will predominate.  Bruce Daisley – Agency Leader at YouTube – observed that it's less about the platform, and referred to a 'long tail' of competitors.  that content rules, was echoed by the panel…

Rhys McLachlan – head of implementational TV at MediaCom – noted that this is, ultimately, what consumers will resolutely follow.  this was echoed by Jon Mitchell of Spotify who suggested that Hulu – recently down 3% – is plateauing.  they have (as opposed to Spotify) a limited amount of content, to thrive in a digital content economy you need ubiquity of supply.

and where eyeballs go commercial impacts follow right?  not necessarily.  McLachlan, in one of several soap-box moments, commented that "clients are increasingly risk adverse" and that "it's hard to invest in channels that are unproven.  there's an absence of valid metrics out there … we are retreating to rather than flighting to quality.  people who want a share of my broadcast budget aren't making a strong enough case for their platforms"

McLachlan went on to comment that "we're complicit in perpetuating a trading model that was created in the 1950s … we need to move on from this legacy model, a model that's been broken for some time".

it occurred to me that it's not the only model that's broken.  what so often get's lost in the maelstrom of how to aggregate and commercialise impacts in the new world of digital broadcast are the opportunities to engage audiences beyond the spot.  the spot is important and will not vanish into history anytime soon, indeed Daisley noted that YouTube's best performing ad (Gorilla of course) out-viewed their best performing piece of longer-form content (Wallace and Gromit if you're interested) by a ratio of forty toone "YouTube", he said, "is empirical evidence that great ads work".

but the spot ad no longer sits alone in the communications toolbox, and to approach commercialising long-form on-demand content by interrupting with ads really does defy belief.  interruption in a on-demand world is at best a contradiction in terms and at worst a failure to grasp the brilliant opportunities that on-demand offers the brands (and for that matter agencies) willing to embrace it…

because if anything is true as we negotiate the future of media and communications it is this; that brands and brand communications have – like everything else – to be in demand.