earning, measuring, owning, rewarding, social media-ising, social networking, tracking

Very Involved People: Why every brand know who they are, and have a Red Carpet ready and waiting for them

Vip-facebook-audi-kloutAudi and Klout (an online influence indexer) have created a page that gifts its special socialites with a free wallpaper

last week saw another step towards community and existing-customer-based comms planning becoming the predominant way through which brands can connect with audiences.  PSFK carried the story that Facebook is to launch VIP areas for brands.  the article notes that:

"Brands on Facebook are going to be able to reward loyal customers with VIP areas and rewards. The new and exclusive pages help brands find the people who influence others in their shopping habits and what they like. Once inside these filtered pages, users will gain access to prizes and be able to interact more directly with companies." PSFK post June 23

it's the next in a logical progression towards brands and marketers having significantly more one-on-one communications with their existing Very Involved People (or VIPs).  I posted in May about how a combination of owned then earned media was increasingly becoming the primary means through which some brands connect and engage audiences.  far from limiting the extent of a brands potential connections, it can create a far more meaningful and engaging dialogue with VIPs and then the wider circles that they in turn influence.

and all this is increasingly measurable.  Klout (the partner working with Audi to deliver the above example) is just one example of platforms that are increasingly able to measure who influences and is influenced by whom.  that brands will become fully-incorporated members of this dynamic is inevitable.

the watch-out … another increase in the power-base of Zuckerberg's already powerful platform.  whilst it makes sense for brands that can't deliver this through their owned media to lease some media real estate from facebook, the ideal is surely to have a red carpet of your own.  that way you build the community, own the platform on which the community is based, and aren't at the mercy of changes in the tenancy agreement if facebook decides to change it.

the questions for brands are clear: who are your VIPs, and where are you laying out a carpet for them?

branding, co-creating, content creating, marketing, planning, publishing, user-generating

Context and Content: Communication lessons from African Drums and Harry Potter

Yoruba ceremonial drums, Nigeria.  picture from here.

so the lovely Emily got for me a signed copy James Gleick's The Information for my birthday (thanks Emily) and whilst I'm only a couple of chapters in, its already proving to be a bit of a treasure trove.  the first chapter discusses the African Drums.  when 18th Century Europeans first heard the drums, they had no idea that they were conveying information.  yet the drumbeats contained detailed and what seemed to be superfluous information.

"Instead of "don't be afraid," they would say, "Bring your heart back down out of your mouth, your heart out of your mouth, get it back down from there" … the drums generated fountains of oratory"

the explanation for the elaboration is fascinating.

"in mapping the spoken language to the drum language, information was lost.  the drum talk was speech with a deficit … the drum language began with the spoken word and shed the consonants and vowels.  that was a lot to lose … consequently … a drummer would invariably add "a little phrase" to each short word.  Songe, the moon, is rendered as songe li tange la manga – "the moon looks down at the earth" … the extra drumbeats, far from being extraneous, provide context"

James Gleick, The Information, Chapter One

there's a beautiful parallel with the world and brands and communication.  the moments in which brands connect with people are fleeting and becoming more so.  there is a very narrow opportunity in which a marketer can convey information.  messages need context, and brands provide it.

so rather than someone hearing "we make cars" (the message) they hear "we make Jeeps" (the branded message).  this context takes the message from a simple "this is what we do" to a more richly imbued communication embodying all the associations someone recalls when they hear "Jeep's cars".

this context is crucial … "we make cars", becomes:

we make Jeeps


we make Toyotas


we make Hondas


it's a useful thinking framework – to separate the context and the content.  marketers work in challenging times.  the potential opportunities to make meaningful connections with people have never been greater; but with opportunity has come complexity.  how are communications cutting-through?  how to create the most distinctiveness in market?  how and when to engage audiences through media beyond which that I buy?

separating context and content helps to address some of those challenges.

creation of context is the creation of brand meaning.  what does my brand stand for?  why does it exist?  what are the associations I want to create (or reinforce) when someone recalls my brand.  this is a long-term process, and it's contribution to a brand's business not always easily measurable.  but it's crucially important context – and the marketer is responsible for continuously creating it.

creation of content is the creation of the message.  we're having a sale this weekend.  new model now available.  we've improved our fuel efficiency.  the role of content is to influence and stimulate an action or a response.  these are shorter term, and the extent to which they permeate and become salient in market are very measurable.  they can also be spread with huge efficiency by media other than that which is bought.

separating these two elements helps navigate increasingly complex waters.  how can I – as marketer – create context for my brand?  a context unhindered by the need for immediate ROI in market.  what platforms (through owned media) can I create to hold and communicate this context?

…and how can I efficiently and effectively deploy my messages into market?  how can I inspire and encourage people to pass-on that message on my and their behalf?

the combination, like the African drums, are simple messages imbued with the richest of context … so that the content is un-mistakenly attributed to its brand.  the add the pieces together you first have to separate them.

which brings us, of course, to Harry Potter – and this week's announcement that the upcoming Deathly Hallows Part 2 won't be the end of the Potter franchise.

Potter as brand is now established.  seven books and eight movies have communicated the narrative and its characters, all of whom are now familiar memes in our culture.  like Star Wars before it, Potter – because of the human stories it tells – is now firmly embedded in the popular psyche.  but context and content have hereto been one and the same; the experience absolutely binding the two together.  books and movies as one-directional communication of story.  around this controlled narrative a user-generated culture arose, but it never penetrated back into nor influenced the context or content coming from JKR, Bloomsbury and Warner Bros.

that's about to change.  Potter is about to undergo a context content split.

Potter as a brand is now evolving to have two distinct streams.  the context will continue to be provided by JKR and co.  both the ideological: what are the rules and conventions of the Harry Potter universe?  and the physical: in the form of the Pottermore owned-media platform (which will also be the sales platform for HP eBooks).

but content will now, for the first time, be created by JKR and anyone else with the passion and energy to contribute.  the long-term building of the Potter brand co-existing but separate to the short-term creation of Potter content.

the evolution is already apparant … the above announcement inviting and teasing its audience to "follow the owl" – an ARG element signalling a shift in the Potter brand to one that is co-created, crowdscourced and owned by everyone.

we're all drummers now.

brand extending, branding, campaigning, co-creating, community-building, connecting, earning, gaming, owning, praising, social media-ising, user-generating

Big Planning and Big Thinking: How Bendigo and Adelaide Bank use owned & earned media to deploy a little utility into the world

Got a big idea that you want to bring to life? Create a plan, share it and make it happen with help from the PlanBig community

so the lovely and awesome Zaac posted a link to my wall of the above effort from Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.  it's called PlanBig and, in it's own words, its…

"… a way for people to get together to make things happen and make a difference.  We [Bendigo and Adelaide Bank] believed that there was some real value in giving people the chance to come together in one place to talk about ideas, share inspiration, offer advice or help make things happen for themselves or someone else.  PlanBig brings together the experiences, knowledge and expertise of people with different skills from all walks of life and all ages to help each other get ideas kick started."

it's a delightful and instinctively attractive platform, which elegantly ticks a range of boxes including – amongst others – socialisation, co-creation, crowdsourcing and gamification.  it also has a elegant and seamless execution that connects with the Book and other social platforms…  the badges-as-reward effort has been borrowed from FourSquare, as has the Book's Like concept (in fact the functionality is a bit like a social network functionality greatest hits, which isn't a bad thing – better to use functionality with which we're familiar … makes it more, well, functional).

as the site observes, "Bendigo and Adelaide Bank feel so strongly about helping people realise their dreams, they’ve been doing it in local communities for over 150 years" … so this platform is just a natural extension of a brand proposition that's been in market for over a century.

it's also another example of the owned and earned media combo (note the absence of bought media) to create (1) utility (2) meaningful connections with a community of people and (3) content ripe for the amplification – if even a few of these ideas get big it will be marketing gold-dust.  all of which makes a great deal more sense to me than buying a shedload of ads telling people what competitive lending rates you have.

this genuinely feels like a brand / product extension with sociable and marketable assets built in from the ground up.  it's a communication for people, by people, and its infinitely better for it.  good on 'em.

manifesto writing

The end or the beginning?: Our manifesto for media, and what happens to it now…

manifesto_wordlea Wordle of the articles of the media manifesto that were written at Mumbrella360 on Tuesday

so it’s written.  one last huge thank you to Toby and Tara and everyone else at PHD … to the most awesome of group leaders Rob Pyne, Alistair Henderson, Howard Parry-Husbands, David Fish, Laura Peck, Georgia Thomas, Kerry Field, Toby Hack, Vicki Connerty, James Larman, Robert Leach, Mike Wilson, Olly Wilton and Eric Faulkner … and to everyone in the room on Tuesday who gave so much energy, insight, passion and belief to writing this:


What We Believe:

On People:

  • We believe everyone should have the time to, and take ownership for, learning and sharing knowledge.
  • We believe we need to start marketing the benefits of working in media & marketing across all industries.
  • We believe work and life balance should be a critical KPI.
  • We believe we need to re-assign value to creativity as a key component of EBIT.
  • We believe every business should define its own values around fun and what balance looks like.
  • We believe it is the fundamental duty of every manager to actively coach and mentor their people and encourage individual contribution without inhibition.

On Post-Broadcast Planning:

  • We believe measurement should move from opportunity to see to opportunity to influence.
  • We believe in mobilizing future decisions not justifying past ones. We should embrace intuition.
  • We believe that planning as we all know it needs to change and that the responsibility for planning must reside with the client.
  • We believe the best outcomes will come from more time and more TLC.
  • We believe in healthy, collaborative debate, as an essential start point of the planning process.

On Agency and Media Owner Relationships:

  • We believe transparency of information will deliver more effective results.
  • We believe in quarterly briefing to media owners to share key client objectives.
  • We believe that there are three people in this media marriage, and that that’s a good thing!
  • We believe there should be a minimum quality or standard for briefing from media agencies and responses from media companies.
  • We believe open access to information leads to better briefing and better work for clients.

On Social Media:

  • We believe social is not just a media, but a behaviour.
  • We believe that social must be an ongoing conversation, not a one-off campaign.
  • We believe we must keep educating clients about social media and what it can deliver.
  • We believe we should be using social data to inform every communications decision.
  • We believe social media can deliver success against traditional metrics but shouldn’t be judged by them.
  • We believe clients need to create a framework that allows them to select the agencies that are best placed to deliver business objectives and collaborate together.

On Client and Agency Relationships:

  • We believe that briefs should be developed in collaboration between clients and agencies.
  • We believe businesses must be clear and honest about what they want.
  • We believe that agencies have a responsibility to educate clients on how advertising works.
  • We believe that no one enjoys pitches.
  • We believe we need a new pitch process to identify the right people and the right ideas for the business.

On Data, Technology and Systems:

  • We believe self-regulation is in the industry’s best interest, but is too idealistic and therefore government needs to be involved.
  • We believe data language must be standardized so that agencies and clients can speak together to put consumers at the heart of planning.
  • We believe in joint ownership of data between consumers and industry for greater value, transparency and better quality data.

On Remuneration:

  • We believe we should replace the commission system.
  • We believe there should be a model that rewards time spent, output and results.
  • We believe we should foster transparency and education between agency and clients.
  • We believe solving this issue will attract the best talent and deliver the best results for clients.


it’s so strange and awesome seeing them up there…  the sentiment of some of the articles, like ‘We believe in mobilizing future decisions not justifying past ones’ is challenging, constructive and intuitive all at once.

it’s a diverse and broad list…  implementing some is merely changing your perspective, implementing others (‘We believe we should replace the commission system’ for example) are a much longer project.  some need evolving – the article of belief around social media measurement for example should, I expect, be developed to incorporate a preferred metric or set of metrics for social media investment.

not everyone will agree with all of the articles, but then that is rather the point.  they are there to act as a shared point of view, not a statement of the obvious.  what matters now is what we do with this list?  our manifesto can remain the tangible output of a Mumbrella360 session.  but it could also be a something that galvanises us more quickly into action…

there may still be some debate around whether or not we’re moving fast enough – this was certainly the sentiment of the conference panel yesterday in response to my question on inertia in the industry.  but if the above manifesto proves anything it’s that there is an appetite for change from across the industry

please add your comments and opinions to the question of ‘what happens now?’ to the comment stream on Mumbrella… what we do with our collective appetite for change, and what happens to our manifesto now, is up to us …

manifesto writing

Nearly there: The workstreams for our Manifesto, and a reminder – courtesy of Creative Sydney – of just why they’re so important

nearly there.  the above little effort begins to explore some of the topics that we'll be debating next week when we collaborate to write a manifesto for the media industry.  an manifesto that at the very least aligns us on what we believe, but which hopefully we set a direction for change…  change which I have never felt is more necessary…

listening to some of the talks at Vivid's Creative Sydney festival reminded me just how mainstream an evolved position of marketing has come.  observations like 'you can't equate marketing success to sales', or 'people don't want to watch advertising', or 'the power of community can do more for a brand than any billion dollar campaign' were made not by niche, off-the-wall marketers – but rather by people building brands like etsy, Intel and future shorts…

these brands and marketers are the new mainstream – the danger is that far from being ahead of the curve our industry's collective point of view gets left behind it.  on Tuesday we get a chance to debate and discuss that – across seven topics:

  • people – attracting, nurturing and retaining talent
  • remuneration – from transparency to media commissions, getting paid what we're worth
  • tech, systems and data – making the most of automation and trading desks, as well as asking 'who owns the data?'
  • agency and media owner relations – time for a new contract? expectations, behaviours and access
  • agency and client relations – education, expectations and getting paid for pitches
  • planning in a post-broadcast world – moving on the planning paradigm for an on-demand world
  • social media – the new gold rush or 21st Century snake oil?  the future or a temporary distraction?  and who should even plan it?

if you're at Mumbrella360 on Tuesday it would be great to see you and hear your voice added to those who will be seeing if we can start a journey towards genuine change.  whether we do or not is up to us, but perhaps being there and talking together, for now, will be enough.  and as the above video hopefully indicates, it should be fun too!  see you next Tuesday.