Ideas not Impacts: what JibJab and MadMen can teach us about a world where multiple smaller ideas are better

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so a little while back, Lauren sent me the attached clip showing us both and the rest of the Twitterpod here at PHD Australia as we'd be cast in MadMen.  it's pretty funny and pretty cool and anything that puts me in the same frame as Don Draper is to be welcomed.

but it got me thinking about how much this little video can tell us about the emerging media paradigm that's challenging brands, agencies and the media industry…  I think it can tell us a lot about idea-driven planning and the importance of doing multiple smaller things not fewer bigger things.  let me explain.

if you've worked in media as long as I you were probably taught that the role of media planners is to link three things together.  link the brand to the right media in order to reach enough of the right people, enough of whom will then do or think what the brand requires of them to make the media investment worthwhile.  a bit like this.

Media_old_skool how I was taught: the right brand in the right media reaching enough of the right people

it's a model driven by impacts – the more impacts the better, which is all well and good.  but the above video JibJab video doesn't work like that at all.  the brand (MadMen) is there, but media is replaced with a platform – in this case the JibJab video utility / site – and the audience is replaced with the few individuals who get exposed to the video via the link that the originator sends…  so the model looks more like this.

Media_new_skool how it think it is now: brands using platforms to plug ideas into networks of individuals

this is a model driven by ideas not impacts…  rather than having an audience who receive a message, we instead have a few individuals who engage with it.  and whilst on the face of it the overall impact is a lot less, this isn't necessarily the case – a few quick numbers…

in the first model let's say you deliver one million impacts.  at a click thru rate of 0.1% a you'll get about 1,000 people to click thru to the place or space a brand wants them to go (I appreciate that this misses the brand effect of the other 999,000 people who see the banner ad but run with it) … the JibJab MadMen requires only 250 to make a video and send it to the three other friends who are in it reach the same number of people.

the emerging model also offers significant benefits.  the first is in targeting.  from a brand perspective, this model is a lot more likely to reach people who are into the product (in this case MadMen).  the second is the level of engagement with the content – and in this instance people are part of the content, which I'd suggest makes it pretty engaging.  the third is that it's inherently viral, the products of the model are things that people will want to share and propagate throughout their networks of friends and peers.

the challenge is that you simply don't reach enough people, but you can always amplify…  there's no reason why you couldn't use the one-to-many model to showcase certain videos, perhaps even as a promotion or competition mechanic.

there's a big implication too.  there's no way that this model replaces the scale and reach of the broadcast model, but that can't be ours to mourn…  if scale is what you're after then there's only two ways to get it.  either you have the best ideas (in the long tail of an ideas ecology the impact of the few biggest ideas will greatly exceed the individual impact of any of the majority of others), or you create more ideas.

in that context, screw fewer bigger better … the best performing brands will be those that can scale the output of the quantity of their ideas.  a marketing effort spread across multiple smaller ideas will be better, and a great deal less risky, than the same effort invested in fewer bigger ideas.  not sure what Don would have to say about that…

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