Its a small world and we are all connected: why exposing ideas is exposing, and why its important

Inspirationthe welcome note at The Church in Crows Nest, which rather sets you into the right frame of mind

I had the pleasure of spending today with some clients coming up with ideas.  just that.  have some great game-changing ideas.

I was struck by the above message on the way in…  that connectedness = meaningful change beyond our immediate sphere of influence.

we don't often enough ponder the significance of our connectedness.  we get that we're connected – we're reminded daily of that.  but rather that our connectedness is the engine that permits and enables the spread, growth and development of ideas.

ideas get exposed, but that also means that they are exposed … to other people.

I had a hard lesson in that these last few days.  that our ideas don't live in echo chambers.  if we want to see change, if we want to make things happen, then we have to expose how we want to create that change to people whose opinion and action we seek to influence…  but that means engaging, with people and their opinions…

it's a small world and we are all connected.  the opportunity and responsibility to create meaningful change is ours for the taking…  and we shouldn't shy from the debate and opinion that comes our way when we put ourselves out there…  this doesn't diminish us, this makes our ideas – and therefore us – better…

manifesto writing

Your debate starts here: Which topics should we debate at Mumbrella360’s Media Manifesto

so next week will see a session at Mumbrella360 write – live and in realtime – a change manifesto for the media industry.  it’s an experiment, and I’m nervous excited, but looking forward to it and really grateful to all the people who are giving their time and energy to take part…

several workstreams in the session will debate a different topic of interest … what those topics of interest are, is up to you…  this is the shortlist:

  • People – attracting, nurturing and retaining media talent
  • Remuneration – from transparency to media commissions, getting paid what we’re worth
  • Tech, systems and data – making the most of automation, trading desks and information, as well as debating who owns the data
  • Agency and Media Owner relationships – is it time for a new contract? Expectations, behaviours and access in the 21st Century
  • Agency and Client relationships – education, expectations and getting paid for pitches
  • Planning in a post-broadcast world – moving the planning paradigm on for an on-demand world
  • Procurement, pitch consultants and auditors – necessary evil or welcome umpires?
  • Content creation – specialist silo or everyone\’s remit?
  • Who owns the big idea? – who is best placed to generate, lead and deliver the big ideas for brands?
  • Accountability – at what point are we drowning in data to prove results at every step of the process?
  • Creative Agency relationships – as the turfs merge together again, who should be doing what and how do we get the most out of each other?
  • Social media? – the new gold rush or 21st Century Snake Oil, the future or a temporary distraction? And who should even plan it?

please take five mins to jump to the Mumbrella website to vote for which five you would most like to see discussed and debated next Tuesday; the debate … your debate, starts here.

advertising, broadcasting, data planning, debating, predicting, television

Media lessons from Sydney Writers Festival: or what Wikileaks and Sneakerpedia have in common

SWF 2011
we've been warned: Paul Gilding, Naomi Oreskes, Curt Stager discuss acting on Climate change as Sam Mostyn facilitates

so Friday evening was spent at the brilliant Sydney Writers Festival at Sydney's Town Hall.  the two sessions, 'who's afraid of Wikileaks?' and the climate-change-themed 'you've been warned' had illuminating things to say on a diversity of subjects but I was particularly struck by what they had to say, explicitly or otherwise, on the subject on media.

a key element in the first session was a specific question posed to the panel on whether Wikileaks is a media organisation or a political organisation.  the panel were agreed in the main that Wikileaks is a media organisation…  that they exist to aggregate, organise and make available information for distribution.

the panel were of the opinion that Wikileaks is non-political in the sense that what happens as a result of the information they release is up not to Wikileaks but rather to those who consume its content.  Wikileaks were, the panel argued, political only in the sense that Assange is a fervent believer in transparency of information, and its ability to hold corrupt organisations and governments to account.

it occured to me that the idea of 'becomng a media organistion' wasn't limited to Wikileaks…  the model – of aggregating useful information and then distributing it – is essentially an owned and then earned media combo.  and any organisation could adopt it…

The greatest sneaker archiving project is about to begin; Footlocker's SneakerPedia

there are parallels to what Footlocker are doing with the rather glorious Sneakerpedia; aggregate information – with utility – into an owned media space.  then use that to stimulate earned media (3,300 Twitter followers and counting) … bought media could come later – amplifying Sneakerpedia's greatest hits or rarest items in print ads, or short form sneaker documentary content on TV, but it doesn't necessarily have to.  Sneakerpedia, like Wikipedia, is an owned and earned media combo – and that's all it has to be: the mechanics of media now not only permit that but in many ways favour it…

because bought media is developing a serious credibilty issue.  the rise of owned media and emergence of tangible earned media has put bought media – as exemplified by the ad – into the spotlight, and the glare seems to be hurting it…

in the second session of the writers festival, a wonderful panel consisting of Paul Gilding, Naomi Oreskes, Curt Stager, Sam Mostyn discussed the hard choices we have to make now to preserve our planet.  Oreskes described how the climate change movement had been undermined (like the anti-smoking lobby before it) by an argument of credible doubt.  the proponents had used bought media to amplify their message to a broad audience.

Oreskes was asked why the pro-climate camp hadn't adopted the same tactics?  her response was stark: "advertising exists to sell people things they don't need, scientists reject that [advertising] can be used to sell climate solutions" … the message is clear, bought media lacks the credibility of owned and earned.

this should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with our industry – the reality is that we have shouted our messages to people for over half a century.  we have created as a result several generations of ambivalence towards our branded messaging, the result of which is now not only passive resilience from audiences, but outright rejection of not only the message but the media delivery channels themselves…

this point is important.  Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham noted in his RTS speech this week that according to Channel 4 research, "about two-thirds of all 'TV audiovisual content' viewing time – across TV, PC and mobile – will be 'tracked intelligently' in some way by 2020"… our working assumption should be that such tracking will only be able to be utilised if people permit us to use it.  if they are similarly minded to Oreskes, that may set up a tricky negotiation between our industry and our audiences.

branding, cinema, connecting, futuregazing, internet, IPA|ED:one, opinionating, thinking

An opportunity not to be missed: what Tiffany Shlain’s ‘Connected’ means for brands as the internet transforms us and our world

so last night, thanks to Disco Davo (thanks Disco), I was lucky enough to be amongst a cinema of people gathered to watch an Aussie-first and unique screening of a movie called Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology.

organised through social media club sydney in conjunction with AMP's AmplifyFestival, Tiffany Shlain's (@tiffanyshlain) film is a narrative on how the internet is fundamentally changing us, interspersed with a personal account of a year in her life.  the result is a fascinating polemic on the nature of our interconnectedness as a species.

much was well-trodden territory for this blog … but there were two aspects I hadn't heard before that I found particularly interesting.  I hope that Shlain won't object to me sharing here…

one, Shlain described how in her father's book 'The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image' he made the connection between how the invention of the written / printed word had coincided with the rise of men in social, political and commercial circles.  he argued that this was because the written word is processed by the left side of the brain, which is more male.

last century's 'iconic revolution' (Shlain's term) – which saw imagery and images became a more predominant form of communication – coincided with increased predominance of females in society.  images are processed by the right side of the brain which is … more female.

the interesting conclusion is that the internet, with it's heady mix of words and images, is processed more of less equally by both sides of the brain, and is therefore a mass-communication channel that isn't biased towards one gender or the other…

the other aspect I found fascinating is how the brain and our body chemistry is predisposed to both connectedness and the pleasure hit we get from the stream of information on the internet.  when we connect, we release oxytocin – which evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security.  Wikipedia notes that 'many studies have already shown a correlation of oxytocin with human bonding, increases in trust, and decreases in fear' … so the more we connect, the less anxious we are, and the internet allows us to feel more connected than ever before…

dopamine is released when we experience something pleasurable, and encourages us to keep performing the action ad-infinitum (as there's no diminishing return from dopamine).  Shlain's interesting observation is that – as dopamine is released when we get a 'hit' of new information … we are becoming addicted to the internet (or more specifically the infinite content that it gives us access to)

if you get a chance to catch the movie I urge you to do so … it's a fascinating and beautiful experience.  and it left me thinking about the role of brands and advertising in Shlain's interconnected and interdependent world.  from one perspective advertising and media fuelled the worst of the excessive consumption society that is now placing sustained pressure on our environment…

…but on the other I can't help but think that Shlain's hypothesis presents us with a clear opportunity, an opportunity defined by a simple question that I can't shake.  in an inter-dependent world where billions of people increasingly connect, communicate and coordinate as communities, why do we continue to so readily seek to engage with individuals?

in an inter-dependent world, the only thing that matters is shared agendas and communities of interest.  and more specifically, what matters most is an opportunity for brands to fuel – rather than interrupt – their interconnectedness and interdependence.

its utility, but its more than that … its potentially brands becoming a key and fundamental part of a dopamine and oxytocin-fuelled revolution in how we live on earth…  it's tantalising enough to warrant asking what you would want of the brands with which you work?  …  for them to be part of humanity's next giant leap, or reconciled to history as part of the iconic revolution that for a while so influenced our culture and behaviour?

advertising, broadcasting, marketing

Time for an Ad: How Groupon and Starbucks are doing things the right way around

Groupons new ad … geotargeted realtime promotions never sounded so straight-forward

Priscilla, who sends tweets from @thoughtcloud, (thanks Priscilla) pointed me in the direction the above video from Groupon, which – as she neatly points out – can be described as mobile + scheduled coupons + mobile micropayments = awesomeness.

the whole proposition, of aggregating local promotions which are geotargeted and delivered in realtime, is in many ways the culmination of a host of recent developments in the mobile space…  a culmination that Groupon – with a view to IPOness – are keen to amplify as much as possible.  it's for perhaps this reason that the company – which has been built from a connections perspective hereto on peer-demanded communications and word of mouth, has put together … an ad.

both regular readers will be familiar with this blog's attitude towards 'the ad' – that 20th Century invention which came to be synonymous with advertising.  our continued reliance on the broadcast interruption model that forms the media basis for adverts remains one of the key limiting factors in brands and marketers embracing a communications age of user-centricity, community and utility.

but Groupon's effort is perhaps a reminder that 'the ad' does have it's place in a 21st Century communications ecosystem.  I can't imagine a neater or more compelling way to communicate realtime geotargeted promotions and offers…  a simple, neat encapsulation of a message and a reminder of what made 'the ad' so predominant in 20th Century marketing communications.

and Groupon aren't alone.  Starbucks have for several years now adopted a community and reward-based marketing approach.  this blog noted in April 2009 that Starbucks were offering free syrup shots for life when you signed up to a Starbucks Card … why?  because – and this was a direct paraphrase from the Bucks' call centre – the brand was looking to what it could, given the (then) current economic climate, for its existing customers.

the last two years have seen a plethora of offers and bonuses for existing customers be deployed in store.  all of which are communicated on regular emails that I'm happy to receive.  like this one that I got today…

Starbucks_frap_mail_2one of the regular eDM's I receive from the Bucks

the mail contains the usual offers and updates, but also invites me to 'watch their new ad' and note that "We're excited that Frappuccino® is on the big screen" …which struck me as an unusual turn of phrase.  excited that they're on the screen.  they're Starbucks.  that pretty big company that turned themselves around with a focus on customer service and involvement in their brand.  why the excitement over an ad?



Starbucks_frap_ad_3 Starbucks' have a new frappuccino ad … and they're excited

but I guess that it's precisely that focus on daily delivery of quality and service that makes their presence in the broadcast stream an exception.  it's a rarity and therefore a novelty for the brand.  even one as big as Starbucks.  and the way I see it both Groupon and Starbucks have this exactly the right way around…

for them, broadcast ads aren't the rule, they are the exception.  and those ads are therefore all the better and more valuable for it.  not for these brands the shout at the millions whether they're listening or not.  not for these brands is broadcast interruption the modus operandi.

rather, daily delivery of value and service and utility and innovation … and when there is something genuinely new, or different, or compelling, they permit themselves to broadcast and interrupt.  only then.  conversation first and as default.  adverts when, and only when, what they have to say is of sufficient value to those on the receiving end.  if only all brands had their priorities in this so very correct order…

attributing, measuring, tracking

Attributing the Sum of the Parts: Does Cascade point to a future of all media impact attribution?

Cascade, a first-of-its-kind tool analyses of the structures which underlie sharing activity on the web

Will Salkeld posted the above video to his blog a couple of weeks ago.  it's a demonstration of a new kind of tool, called Cascade, which allows for precise analysis of the structures which underlie sharing activity on the web.  it links browsing behavior on a site to sharing activity, thereby constructing a detailed picture of how information propagates through the social media space…

whilst questioning the practical value of the tool, describing Cascade as an "unnecessary complication to an already muddled social media landscape", Salkeld does observe that the tool could have specific and tangible benefits:

"tools like this could cut out much of the guess work that occurs when trying to determine who appropriate influencers should be. Knowing which people will propagate information or subvert it to their liking in advance will mean improved economies of scale, because the most appropriate influencers will already be apparent. The beauty of it is that as data accumulates, assumptions become more accurate!"

quite right too.  but the ambition for a generation of tools like Cascade shouldn't be limited to the Twittersphere or even digital realms.  the opportunity, and The Grail for media connections planning and measurement, is an all-media equivalent of Cascade; a tool that measure and allows interpretation of how communications spread through networks and populations.

this is of value to brands and marketers, who have obvious interest in understanding which communications lead to (sales) effects in market.  but its also of huge interest to agencies.  when you're paid by results, as bonus and increasingly base fees are, knowing – and proving – which impacts contributed to the sale becomes valuable information indeed.

in online its called attribution modelling.  how do you attribute the value of the end sale to the various and constituent media impacts that let to it.  100% of attribution shouldn't go to the last impact (often Google) – this is just the last in a series of impacts that contributed to, and deserve 'credit' for part of the sale.

as planners, the idea that we could model attribution across multiple impacts and channels is intriguing at the least.  and as media becomes digitised, the ability to track the impacts becomes tantalisingly feasible.  as the pursuit of planning Grail's go, attribution modelling across channels is more than worth some time with a shrubbery or two.

creating, curating, experiencing, learning

Making History Personal: How Port Arthur curates individual paths through its content

Port_arthur_card_1a playing card: your invitation to explore Port Arthur exhibitions and information

upon receiving your entry ticket to Port Arthur's visitor centre in Tasmania you receive one of the above cards.  the card is one of a couple of dozen or so playing cards, and each person visiting the site gets a different one.  mine was the Queen of Diamonds.

Port_arthur_card_2the Queen of Diamonds: my card invites and allows me to take a personal journey through the attraction's exhibitions

much more than a souvenir however, each card invites it's owner to take a journey through the visitors centre following in the footsteps of one of the inmates of two centuries ago, when the port was Australia's second penal colony in then Van Diemen's Land.

each room in the exhibit is tailored to allowing you to exploring a specific journey for your card; a journey that reflects the actual journey taken by a specific inmate in the facility hundeds of years ago.  what was their name and where did they arrive from?  were they well behaved or not?  were they punished or rewarded?  did they take on a trade?  did they ever leave the facility?

I loved this approach for three reasons.  the first is that it takes something that could be quite rational, remote and, well, historic and makes it personal and personalised.  approaching the visitor's centre and its exhibitions from the point of view that someone – a real person – actually went on this journey changes your mindset towards how you approach it.  you are more involved, more connected.  you care more.

the second-reason I love this customer solution is because of how this approach mitigates choice-overload.  it tackles that feeling many of us must be familiar with when you walk into a museum and think… where to start?  and then where?  … non of this here.  you are presented with a clear path and invited to ignore some exhibits.  this doesn't compromise your visit, in fact it actually liberates it.

but the reason that I most love this approach is the extent to which – explicitly or implicitly – it invites conversation, a point made by Davey too when I was chatting with her this morning.  when a group of people goes through the visitor centre none will take the same journey.  there will be knowledge gaps that the group will fill through discussion and conversation?  where did you go?  who was your inmate?  did you see X?  these gaps, what I call knowledge differentials, fuel conversations immediately after the experience but also, by making the navigation tangible (the playing card) they can also extend into the future.

I hope that Port Arther build on what they have.  mobile and tablet functionality now allows them to take this tailored personalised approach to a whole new level.  you could choose your character in advance and then download the journey with audio that you could listen to on your phone as you tour the centre.  social functionality would allow you to share your journey with your social networks in real-time as you go through the exhibit – or share stories with strangers who went on the same journey.

a playing card.  a simple and elegant thought that added disproportinate value to my visit; and exactly what every experience should be – personal, curated and social.