Cookie and Stream: How a re-targeted ad for NIB officially killed the segmentation

oh hello cookie

perhaps its because I’m a digital immigrant (first email send 1995 aged 18) but I’m still sometimes genuinely surprised and more than a little delighted at just how good our industry has become at what we do.

yesterday I was nosing around the NIB website looking at health insurance options.  I went there, by the way, as a result of word of mouth (thanks Nic) – about which the soon-to-be-released book Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom will observe that “ninety percent of brands recommended by [a WOM experimental family called] the Morgansons were purchased by every person who entered the family’s sphere”.  we truly buy because of what other people buy.

but I digress.  the point is that I was on the NIB website and started a quote but didn’t complete the application and happily moved on with my life.

until today.

when I was served with an ad for NIB whilst watching a YouTube clip (entirely, I may ad, unrelated to health insurance) … and exclaimed to twitterpod II and beyond that “I’ve just been re-targeted”.

which is a pretty stupid / obvious / unnecessary thing for a media planner of ten years to observe.

but exclaim I did.

the fact that NIB had furnished me with a cookie then streamed an ad right at me (frequency cap of three – I checked) still filled me with a pride that what we do not just awesomely works but, more importantly, is finally delivering on the long-held promise of a segmentation of one.

because the point is that I’m not in an NIB segmentation … or at least I certainly wasn’t targeted in the first instance as one (I sought them out).  digital media allows me to be in a segment of one – a segment called ‘Chris in Sydney who clicked but didn’t follow through for a quote on 27/9/11’.

the promise of digital planning is not just the volume (there are, according to Mashable, currently 17,031,375 of these segments in Australia alone*) but that these segments aren’t discrete.  they are networked.  and that means that they’re not segments at all.

they’re nodes.

at the moment I need to manually tell my network that I interacted with an ad for NIB, but that’s becoming – certainly for the super-sharers – a passive process.

and for high-interest categories that means that not only do you not need a segmentation, but that you have the potential to instigate hundreds of super-relevant networks around an idea or piece of content.

networks that self-create and spread, from nodes just like ‘Chris in Sydney who clicked but didn’t follow through for a quote on 27/9/11’ … like I said, you can’t help but be just a little bit delighted by that.

you can also be delighted by this … enjoy …

*online population of Australia


Living This Branded Life: The Opportunities and Pitfalls for Brands as Facebook leads the charge on branded verbs

This_branded_life_adidasthe evolution of the brand as demonstrated by adidas: branded products, adverts, content, conversations and now living

in the beginning was the thing.  and so that we could determine origin and provenance of the thing, there was the branded thing.  very soon after that businesses wanted to tell people about their things so they made ads, which were often of 30 seconds duration.  in time this branded content became as long as a movie, or even a permanent experiential space from which you could buy the product.  and then, at some point near the start of the 21st Century a curious thing happened.  brands went a step further and started branding our lives.

social media and brands go together like cookies and cream.  its impossible to discuss one without the other.  and so it was no surprise that amidst all the announcements of gestures and timelines and apps at facebook’s f8 developer conference – one of the biggest questions to emerge is what does this all mean for brands?

a cracking summary by Lucio Dias Ribiero of social media agency The Online Circle on Mumbrella noted that there are three main developments: (1) gestures – from now onwards, developers will have the power to create their own buttons (2) new apps – a new breed of social applications and ‘lifestyle apps’ which allow users to ‘read, watch and listen’ to media and (3) timeline – a scrapbook of your life as captured and curated by the Book.

Ribiero notes that the changes will allow brands to build their own customised buttons, and describes the significance the changes will mean for targeting:

“now that users can share what they are consuming (videos, news, music) through media partner applications, marketers can get mentions and give them wider distribution through sponsored stories – a new kind of behavioural advertising … These apps present brands with a completely new way of targeting Facebookers. Depending on what sort of content users are consuming, ads can be filtered and served accordingly”

the implications of this are far from insignificant and go much further than targeting.  by allowing brands to create customised buttons, facebook is leading the change on allowing brands to connect with and attach themselves to what we’re doing in an unprecedentedly tangible way.

and facebook are far from alone.  in fact (of all people) Aussie broadcasters are all over this … it’s hard to describe how much better Q&A is with the incorporation of observations that arrive in the studio via #qanda, but this week also saw Nine launch a live voting platform for WWOS that – via Vodafone’s Viewers’ Verdict Vote – allows viewers to take part in on-air discussions:

WWOS’s Vodafone’s Viewers Vote

and Leckie’s dramatic presentation last week included the announcement that SMG Red will be soon launching a mobile app / online platform that will allow viewers to check into programs – encouraging interaction with on-air content but also in conversations that extend beyond the content.  and brand-funded, SMGRed-hosted community that will be rewarded for interaction.

a branded life indeed.

to which our very last reaction should be surprise.  our lives have been well and truly branded for at least half a century if not considerably longer…  yet this is far from a challenge, we are at the threshold of the age of utility.  a wave of usefulness is about to crash over us, and I for one can’t wait.  no, the challenge – God love ’em – is for brands…

because if the world wasn’t complicated enough, it just got a whole lot more so.  post-f8, if you’re in charge of a brand,  you have to ask yourself if you want a branded facebook app that – via customised buttons – will allow people to share what they’re doing via you and your brand’s app.

of course for some brands this is easy.  if you’re a brand with a clear idea of why you exist and what activities, interests and passions you want to stimulate in the world its rather straight forward.  if you’re a brand with a clear ideas of what to be in your next ad, it’s almost impossible to answer.

ah, plus ça change … and yet a gloriously simple question for brands remains: with which verb does your brand want to be associated?


Thinking Beyond the Horizon: Why imagining the world in 2016 is more important and necessary than ever

2016: Beyond the Horizon | Mark Holden from PHD Worldwide on Vimeo.

it’s just after the joke about swallowing two micro chips for breakfast, that Mark observes that 1.2 billion are now socially networked, and are connected through technology in powerful and disruptive ways.  this is 2016: Beyond The Horizon – and it’s PHD’s view and perspective on how the world and our industry will change in the next five years.

re-watching this talk, uploaded to coincide with the launch of the 2016 book (available on Amazon with all proceeds going to Unicef), reminded of why this blog is called MEDIAtion.  its called MEDIAtion because it’s about negotiating between two sides of a war.

I used to think that it was a war between two factions – the old guard (The Empire) who want to maintain the status quo and defend existing business models, and the new media (The Rebels) who disregard existing business models and structures, imagining and building new ways to reach, engage and involve people in new, more innovative ways.

it was a compelling mental image of the situation, the Zuckerberg and Page/Brin-shaped Rebels taking on the Murdoch and Packer-sized Empire.

but I think I was wrong.

the war isn’t between two factions.

everyone wants to evolve and prosper through change.  we all of us want to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities of a life lived, as Telstra would say, in full colour.  no, this is not a war between factions – rather it is a war between times…

the war we are fighting, and in which this blog MEDIAtes … is a war between the past and the future.

a past that traps and conforms us.  a past that forces pragmatism, and comforts us with sentiments like ‘that is how its done’ and ‘don’t worry it works like this’.  a past that not only stops us changing, but stops us wanting to change.

but change isn’t something that happens to us.  rather change is something that we make happen.  and that’s why 2016 is so important…  if we are to change, if we and the brands in our collective care are to prosper, then we need to imagine, articulate and understand where we are going.

and change accordingly.

this is the ambition of 2016.  this is the promise of PHD.  this is why I am on board.

we are all of us Rebels, we have only to choose to rebel.

me being on board…

advertising, branding, copy-writing, praising, utilitarising

Of Promise and Production: Lessons for Telstra in Saying versus Doing from Dulux and Coca-Cola

bright shiny and new: the revamped Telstra ad that broke this weekend

featured image source

much has already been said of Telstra’s re-branding effort, which manifested itself over the weekend in print and on TV.  it’s all bright, shiny and new, and doesn’t look very Telstra at all … which I guess is rather the point.

I love it.  it’s optimistic, bright, clean, modern and very disruptive.  the copy is actually genuinely really uplifting:

today is amazing. connect with almost anything and anyone from almost anywhere. got something to say? boom … the world can love it. hate it. ignore it. whatever. stop and smell the roses you purchased online from the shop you just liked. because its never been like this before. it’s life in full colour. and it’s amazing.

it’s also much more than a marketing sea-change.  as the below video points out – it’s extending into every aspect of the organisation – from the vans to the identity badges…

it’s this piece of communication that’s much more interesting from a connections perspective.  the inclusion of things like identity badges gives it just a slight sense that it’s meant as much for internal as it is external consumption; a communication to Telstra’s staff explaining what’s changed.

it’s as though we’re listening in on a private conversation between an organisation and its staff – and it feels a lot more genuine as a result … if its an accident then its a happy one.  if its deliberate then it’s smart, and the opportunity is to go a great deal further.

much of the conversation on Mumbrella’s comment thread has debated the value of a revamped brand identity when the product and service fails to match.  but as Mumbrella’s indefatigable Tim Burrowes commented in an opinion piece on the site, the product does seem to be improving.

the challenge though, starts now. as the VO towards the end of the second video above observes, “we’re doing all of this to help us show all Australians just how amazing connected life can be” … the promise of a life lived in full colour isn’t the same as demonstrating to actual people in real and simple terms, what that means.  the promise can’t remain unfulfilled; the bright, clean, modern and disruptive packaging can’t be wrapped around an empty box.

of course if Telstra are really smart, then they’ll go the step further of actually making life more colourful for Australians …  what is Telstra’s similarly colour-inspired version of this?:

it’s a subtle but key mental shift: don’t just promise something – produce it.  don’t just promise more colourful lives, use your marketing investment to help produce more colourful lives.  the reach and awareness will come for free and will be more credible because the real conversations and voices of Australians will help create it.

it’s what Dulux have done with their promise of colour and its what Coca-Cola, with the recently released content below, have done with Happiness.  you can’t help but think that the people who created this asked themselves “what would Pixar do?” … and it’s the better for it.


charging, innovating, making, marketing, praising, promoting, selling

Owning the Impossible: Winners all round as Nike brings The MAG Back From The Future

Nike_Mag_shoetwenty two years in the waiting, The MAG is Back From The Future

it took about thirty seconds.  thirty seconds from receiving this IM from Alex S… to fall utterly in love.

“i could see you in those

the link was to this:

“Back To The Future Nike Air Mags Are Real And Glorious” was Gizmodo’s Geek Out’s take on today’s news.  I couldn’t agree more

the world was awake, and had been alerted to the existence of The MAG, brought Back From The Future by Nike.  as a post on Nike’s site explains:

“The NIKE MAG is no longer the “greatest shoe never made.” The mythical shoe that originally captured the imagination of audiences in Back to the Future II is being released – and they’re here to help create a future without Parkinson’s disease … 1,500 pairs of the 2011 NIKE MAG will be auctioned on eBay with all net proceeds going directly to The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Each day for the duration of the ten-day auction, one hundred and fifty pairs of the 2011 NIKE MAG shoes will be made available …”

as sneaks go it’s a stunning piece of work and – with the exception of power laces – is as fine a replica of Marty’s originals that you’ll find:

then and now – Marty’s original 2015 sneaks and the ones revealed today

it arrived with this beautiful teaser clip:

a clip which isn’t alone … a gamut of content and AV collateral has been released to support the arrival of the 1,500 pairs, and not a corner has been cut – Doc Brown himself is on board:

the distribution model is designed to extract maximum value from the shoes.  by selling on Ebay, Nike ensure that – with such a strictly limited supply (there’s one pair for every 4.5 million people on the planet) – it doesn’t just find those individuals with the money to invest in these puppies, but engages those individuals in what is sure to be a fierce bidding war, with each other, to own their slice of the impossible.

everyone wins.

those of us who have been waiting since 1989 for “the greatest shoe never made” to arrive finally get to see it.  a lucky few will even get to own it.  the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research will get a shedload of money to fight Parkinson’s (even if the average selling price is a conservative $5,000, the MAGs will generate over $7.5m in revenue).

Ebay get a burst of activity on their platform, part of which will no doubt fulfill the hugely valuable role of getting inactive registered users to engage with the site.  and as for Nike … money can’t buy publicity, the adoration of sneaker fans everywhere, and a global bidding war to get a hold of their product…

winners all round – The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Ebay and Nike

as marketing efforts go, its textbook best practice:

  • innovate and invest in creating products that have currency and will be in high demand
  • strictly limit supply
  • fewer bigger better partnerships to deliver and deploy the initiative
  • invest in credibility (Christopher Lloyd is in the ad for goodness sake)
  • sacrifice profits in favour of positive PR and goodwill
  • don’t buy media when you can earn it
  • invest in sharable high quality content
  • rigorously control timing to maximise interest and dominate news and conversation
  • product out, not advertising in

the awesomeness of these shoes is outdone only by the awesomeness of the marketing machine that has announced them to the world.  what happens over the next ten days remains to be seen, but for now its all eyes on Ebay – where, only 4 1/2 hours into day one’s auction, bids for every pair of size 9s are sitting at between $3,500 and $4,000.



good luck.


commenting, distributing, marketing, opinionating, promoting, retailing

Coles and Woolies’ Death Star moment: the beginnings of the brand rebellion in Australia’s Supermarket Store Wars

Tarkin and LeiaThe more you tighten your grip, Woolies and Coles, the more brands will slip through your fingers

my return from a rather long winter blogging break has been greeted with the glad tidings that some brands have finally chosen to take a stand against the big two Australian supermarkets.  Adnews reports today that Glenn Cooper, boss of Coopers Brewery has described Coles and Woolies as being the "killers of Aussie brands".  Cooper went further:

“Blatantly, Coles and Woolworths are not brand builders, they are brand destroyers … it’s harsh, but they are not about building brands, they are just about turning over quickly.”

SMH only last week reported that this is an opinion recently echoed by no less than Heinz' chief financial officer and executive vice-president Arthur Winkleblack.  in a briefing to US analysts on the company's first-quarter earnings, Winkleblack specifically name-checked the Australian supermarket sector and blamed them for an erosion of its margins.  sentiments echoed by Heinz' chairman and chief executive Bill Johnson:

''There is no doubt that in terms of retail environment, the Australian market is the worst market, and ultimately the people that will pay the price over there are the consumers because products will ultimately be devalued to address the price points that customers are asking us to address … So the consumer is going to ultimately be the big loser in Australia.'' 

the supermarket's argument is manifold and includes the rationale that this is all in consumers' interest – a Coles spokesman, in response to Winkleblack's comments, stated that "We agree with Heinz's comments that companies need to be competitive to ensure the best outcomes for customers."

but consumers don't benefit from Supermarket competition.  the concensus of an April opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald was that consumers – if they see any benefit at all – see it only in the short term.  Academic Angela Paladino commented that:

"Price wars squeeze out marginal players and change the composition of the market. Here fewer competitors seek to enter an unattractive market that is dependent on low price for success, and smaller competitors exit the market as a result of the inability to make a profit. Others may be taken over, for example the 2009 acquisition of Macro Foods by Woolworths. This has a long-term impact on consumer choice, with shoppers left in a market comprised of fewer players with greater power."

Nick Stance, Chief Executive of Choice agreed:

"The market shares of Coles and Woolworths allow them to negotiate hard with their supply chain. In fact many suppliers report they have little choice but to accept terms offered even if that makes their business barely viable … Sometimes the benefit of lower costs is passed on to the consumer through promotions, but promotions are temporary and do not in themselves create sustainable competition … The ''price war'' is a phoney conflict, not least because the big players usually match each others' prices."

there are only two winners in Coles and Woolies' Store Wars; and that's Coles and Woolies.  brands have and continue to exist at the mercy of these distribution Death Stars.  now Coopers and Heinz have come out of the supermarket closet.  it's just two brands.  but that's two more brands than a few months ago.

Coopers and Heinz's coming out is important.  brands standing up to Coles and Woolies is important, because the dominance of Coles and Woolies is hurting brands … not least in expectations of media investment…

I've sat in more meetings that I care to recall where there have been two invisible seats at the table.  in discussions where the spectre of supermarket's expectations for media investment loom large over marketers, marketers dependent on these two Death Stars for significant – and often increasing – distrutions volumes.

it's a sweeping generalisation to say that Australian brands are too dependent on the broadcast interruption model (of which TV spot advertising is the main solution) for their marketing needs.  never-the-less its a generalisation that I believe is true.  a reliance on this 20th Century marketing model isn't just down to the pressures and expectations of Coles and Woolies on media spends, but they sure as hell play a very significant part: too many brands over-invest in broadcast interruption because its what supermarkets want and expect to see on those brands' media schedules.  supermarkets' expectations are holding back brands' media innovation potential.

but the effect and influence isn't limited to consequences above-the-line (a term which I hate but I'll run with anyway).  prices are down.  great.  but its not the supermarkets funding this price decrease – it's brands.  manufacturers are paying for prices to be down with their below-the-line (ditto) budgets.  and because prices are down for good manufacturers will be paying for them to be down … for good.

The Order of Coopers – owned and earned media curating a community for the brand

what is phenomenal in this context are the levels of innovation that do get out of markets and agencies' doors and into the world.  despite the vast majority of bought media investment being diverted to an outdated (and actually never that well proven model), Coopers – for example – have built a hugely utilised online site and community.  they are investing in owned and earned media that are building a community with direct links to their brand and business that side-steps the supermarkets' Death Stars.

brands, it would seem, are starting to have had enough.  the Supermarket's weaponary have become simply too powerful to ignore.  to paraphrase Senator Organa, 'the more you tighten your grip Coles and Woolies, the more brands will slip through your fingers'.

the rebellion, I very much hope, has begun.

full disclosure: I work as a media strategist for several brands that have distribution through Coles and Woolworths in Australia.  the above comments reflect my, and my opinions alone.  the advice and recommendations I make to brands take these – as well as other – opinions and considerations into account.