Combining the power of short and long-term effects to improve brand performance
attributing, evidencing, learning, marketing, planning, researching

Getting your hands dirty; mediating the messy reality of combining the long and the short of marketing approaches

There should probably be statues somewhere of Les Binet and Peter Field. Their comprehensive, considered and rigorous work into the effectiveness of marketing has hugely influenced the industry – to the point where its essentially unofficial agency law to reference their findings in your thinking.

I’ve always however found their short vs long-term marketing step chart a little overly-theoretical. The logic is clearly sound and the general findings of course backed-up, but the danger is that its (over?) simplicity misses the messier reality of the real world.

Les Binet and Peter Field’s illustration of the impact – in general terms – of brand-building vs sales activation marketing activities, via Gracious Economics

Happy days then, as Dr Grace Kite from Gracious Economics has recently shared a trove of real-world examples and findings based on twenty years’ worth of economics projects.

The data proves out Binet and Field’s work, with evidence that many real-world brands drive growth via incremental sales when both sales-activation and brand-based activities are deployed.

“This advertiser’s email activity worked well to drive sales in the week it mailed and the week after. But, just as Les and Peter’s analysis predicts, the business didn’t begin to see growth until they increased their investment into longer-lived brand-building activity on TV.” Source

Beyond the general model holding up to real-world analysis, some addition messier and interesting examples were also identified – not all with positive growth stories. For example there were cases where the addition of more brand-based activities were unsuccessful, and unfortunately abandoned in favour of the more immediate wins.

“Four brand campaigns on TV were tried and found to have neither long-lived effects nor a positive return on investment. After evaluation, the advertiser understandably gave up and reallocated budget away from brand and into short-term sales activation online.” Source

There also a lovely example of a case where initial use of social and TV didn’t product long-term effects. When an alternative TV creative was paired with radio however, the advertiser saw incremental sales growth. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (tho obviously with a considered test and learn agenda and performance benchmarks to ascertain success metrics).

“Initial experiments with social only had a short-lived effect and TV creative X was not strong enough to produce a long-lasting effect. It was only when they switched to creative Y on TV and radio that advertising was able to deliver growth.” Source

Working with Tom Roach (who, as an aside, wrote a great piece on the current state of brand purpose-based marketing worth reading if you haven’t already), they have developed an adapted view of the Binet and Field model – which combines both short-and long term effects as force-multipliers, as opposed to a long and short of it trade-off.

Having real-world examples – with all their sometimes messy and not always first-time successful outcomes – makes for a valuable addition to the general evidence available to support the case for investment in both short-term sales activation and longer-term brand building marketing activties.

And it is both.

As Tom notes on his blog post to accompany the research, “whilst the theory says we should all try to achieve a balanced approach in order to maximise both saleability and sales simultaneously, there’s a massive gulf between the theory and the actual practice, which is increasingly divided between practitioners of ‘brand’ and ‘performance’ marketing.”

Its unfortunately true that the two effects are too often seen as a trade-off. Of course they work hand in hand. If that’s a lesson for the best of times, its an even more important reminder whilst navigating our current moment. Both are needed, and you won’t always get the combination it right first time.

Its also true that all too often the focus is purely on return on investment, rather than growth – an analysis in which its easier for pure short-termist approaches to win out. Ensuring that we optimise to effectiveness goals, rather than to efficiency-based outcomes, is crucial if we are to ensure that we maximise growth opportunities.

Efficiency (including ROI analysis) is a means to an effectiveness end.

My very awesome colleague Malcolm Devoy discussed this, and the broader challenges and opportunities for brands navigating this Covid moment in the first of eatbigfish and PHD’s Challenger Strategies podcast.

Adam Morgan, founder of eatbigfish, and Malcolm Devoy, Chief Strategy Officer at PHD EMEA, discuss how the media landscape has changed for brands and the opportunities to build brand value through creativity and challenger thinking.

Dr Kite’s generous sharing of her work is a reminder – as if we needed it – of the need to mediate the long vs short absolutist elements of media planning and practice; but also a timely reminder that there are very few silver bullets. The combination of media and marketing efforts that unlock growth won’t always be found first time, and never in power-pointed theoreticals.

To navigate, and win, in a messy world – you have to get your hands dirty.

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blogging, commenting, data planning, Mediated

2,056 days later I’ve returned to Mediation; to find that nothing, and everything, has changed

So, where were we? It has been 2,056 days since I last posted to this Mediation blog. That’s well over half a decade since I shared my thoughts on the un-negotiated data-based contract between advertisers, media platforms and audiences.

It would be a pointless task to try and list out the changes, evolutions (and revolutions), disruptions, procrastinations, legislations, debates and discussions that have characterised the media and marketing industry over that time. They are vast, and profound.

Or are they?

A look back to the Mediation posts of 2014 (there were six) shows I covered the following topics:

The Un-Negotiated Contract: How the model changed, and why the fight for access to data and information has never mattered more … explored the role of data in media and marketing, and implications for data transparency and consumer privacy.

In the Netflix Spark: Why the arrival of the SVOD platform heralds a more even distribution of the future for everyone … I discussed streaming and its impact on the video advertising ecosystem.

Being a true version of yourself: Lessons on transparency from Kyle and Jackie O, and Bethany Mota … explored influencers and brand authenticity.

Weapons of Mass Contagion: why our amazement and anger at Facebook’s emotion experiment is misdirected … wrestled with the surprise and shock at social media algorithm’s ability to influence our feelings and emotions (be kind, it was 2014).

What’s your Story?: a tale of two narratives, and a big lesson in the power of narrative via Jamie Oliver and Thank You Group … covered the nature of brands and storytelling.

And in Reunification isn’t going to happen so get over it: Why media is already planning for a future that’s here already. and why that’s awesome … posited on agency and holding group structure and specifically the debate over a return (or not, as I predicted) to full-service.

So five and a half years ago the debate was largely grounded in data, media business model disruption, influencers and authenticity, brand storytelling, and how agencies and holding groups can best structure to deliver outcomes and client objectives.

What’s astonishing is how little the industry’s topics of debate have changed … yet just how much the discussion and developments within those topics has moved on.

If you are a consumer living within the European Union or the US State of California, government legislation has made huge steps to negotiating the contract between your personal data, advertisers and media platforms. In the last half decade the progress on this topic, in terms of public awareness and legislation has moved dramatically – tho the latter probably more than the former.

Consumer perception on social media (with its inherent biases and dangers) and the role it plays in our society and culture has moved on significantly. The original debates on Mediation around this topic look nothing short of quaint in a world in which social media’s pivotal role in politics, social equality, extremism (in all its forms), and data transparency is still being fully understood and debated. As is its role in the media ecosystem of major brands with an eye to brand safety.

Influencers have ridden the roller-coaster of Gartner’s hype cycle and have, arguably, now found a plateau of productivity following their trough of disillusionment. That said, the normalisation of influencers and KOLs for some brands has been tempered with its rejection by other brands in favour of more centralised and authentic brand narrative and messaging.

Indeed, the perceived role of brands (by marketers and some agencies) has also evolved, the most recent iteration being a bout of purpose-driven marketing, which reached a recent zenith, until everyone looked around and realised that every brand’s purpose was exactly the same; to basically be ‘here for you’. For many brands, the search for a post-Purpose model seems to be more than well underway.

Meanwhile in media land all the shifts – both seismic and nuanced – that were underway 2,056 days ago have only accelerated. Streaming’s march has continued, with the arrival of entrants like Disney+ only adding more credibility and urgency to the clear direction of travel.

I was wrong on the reunification of media and creative, which did come to pass after all… just not in the way that I imagined. Rather than agency brands reuniting across the media and creative divide, instead new models have emerged. On one hand the holding group brands themselves shifted from back-end infrastructure to marketer-facing agency brand. Or on the other they de-branded to create completely new integrated offerings for clients – particularly those with global scale.

An honourable mention for the progress that audio has made in the last half decade, mainly due to podcasting. The continued rise of Spotify will only be accelerated by the very chunky investments they are making into original audio content and talent.

Also TikTok, the platform that captured and then created a cultural moment of content creation that took not just other social platforms but the entertainment industry at large by surprise. There’s a lot more to come from them.

And mentions also to the gaming industry – with which brands still seem to be struggling to find a way to authentically engage, and to Ecommerce, although it probably has over-inflated mental availability right now among the media and planning community.

The last 2,056 days were less kind to some corners of the media landscape. Print and magazines continue to have a horrible time – with some notable exceptions that have managed to both diversify and also tap into a recurring revenue model (including The Guardian with its successful membership and supporter model).

Mediation’s time away saw the most damage however to long-term brand building and marketing investments. Short-termism, an over-reliance on performance-based planning and the pursuit of efficient over effective media planning has, frustratingly, flourished. We’ll come back to that I’m sure down the track.

That’s hardly a comprehensive assessment. I’ll not try to pretend that it is. But after the longest break, we are (kind of) up to speed.

So why now? Why return to Mediation after an absence of more than two thousand days?

The answer is both short and long. The short answer is because Covid, obvs. Like many people, the last few months have been one of contemplation and consideration. I count myself more than fortunate that I am in the luxurious position to be able to find time in the current moment to contemplate its implications. For many millions of people this horrible current situation is characterised not by mindfulness, but by stress, fear, anger, anxiety and loss. I am in a very, very fortunate position.

The longer answer is that I’ve found myself returning over the last few months to the reason I originally began writing Mediation back in 2006. Over eight years I attempted to negotiate the future of media and communications. The negotiations were between legacy and next-generation media platforms; between established models and new ways of thinking. They were between those invested in building something new and those invested in preserving the status-quo.

The mediating was also between brands and audiences, the nature of their relationships and interactions (albeit fleeting), and between the different corners and elements of the industry; the holding group behemoths and the rogue start-ups.

Through all of that, the question was how to mediate a better tomorrow? What can we learn from the new things under the sun whilst building on the best of what has stood the test to date? How can media be accessed and leveraged by brands and marketers in meaningful and effective ways that works in everyone’s interests?

I believe that question is as urgent as ever. It is a question being revisited with renewed urgency in this time of change and upheaval. Old assumptions are being questioned and new models and beliefs are being explored and tested.

There is much to debate and discover.

It’s good to be back.

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advertising, data planning, debating, marketing, opinionating

The Un-Negotiated Contract: How the model changed, and why the fight for access to data and information has never mattered more

this post first appeared on Mumbrella

At some point in the last decade a long-established contract between people, media and brands fundamentally changed. What is gradually and incrementally replacing it is an un-negotiated contract – in which information is the new currency, insights and utility are the new value, and the fight for the control of data -whether you realise it or not – is one in which you are already engaged.

The nature of the contract we’re currently negotiating will have huge implications for consumers, brands, media businesses and governments. Whether its the strategies employed by brands, the deals made in market, or the data that’s shared with our governments – how this emerging contract nets out will affect us all, and is already shaping the industry around us.

The broadcast interruption model that emerged in the 1950s was a ruthlessly effective and potent means of value exchange. Everyone involved (which was everyone) won. It was ruthlessly simple – brands gave broadcast media dollars which paid for content that people viewed, and which brands interrupted to get people’s attention.

mediation_broadcast_interruption_model

The model was so awesome that it even accommodated channel-neutrality – it worked as well for print and radio as it did for TV, but at some point in the last decade this ruthlessly simple and effective model started to break down. Fragmentation of channels led to fragmented viewing and audiences – necessitating more investment by brands to reach the same number of people. Set-top and on-demand technologies allowed viewers to skip brand messages (although the evidence is that this was largely off-set by higher viewing in PVR households), the internet changed, well, everything … and a new generation of media businesses and brands emerged that weren’t dependent on the broadcast interruption model – or more specifically the currency that drove it.

Because what sat at the heart of that model and the old established contract – its currency – was the ad. Adverts were what media organisations sold, what brands placed and what viewers watched. They were the centre of the contract’s gravity – so much so that the very concept of advertising became synonymous and interchangeable with its most predominant vehicle … the advert.

What has tacitly emerged over the last decade has been a fundamental reworking of the relationships between the various participants in the deal – to the extent that I now think we’re working with something that looks more like this:

mediation_unnegotiated_contract

The emergence of new media businesses built on data – rather than broadcast ad interruption – is one of the key drivers of this new as yet un-negotiated contract. Google, Facebook, Twitter are of course the obvious examples but so too are companies like Amazon and Ebay – they revenue-generate based on the data they accumulate, and the insight this subsequently generates for advertisers. Ads are still of course part of the equation but they are no longer the point of the model … rather information is.

Better information allows and enables brands to have better contacts and connections with people … something Will Collin discussed on Mumbrella back in October in a brilliant piece that made the case for a focus on reciprocity in how brands engage people – I’ve called it utility above but the point is the same. It’s about how data and information fuel better brand ideas – ideas that are not only increasingly necessary in our fragmented cluttered world, but which are also proven to generate disproportionate ROI versus optimisation of the channel plan.

So far so nice theory, but so what? Well, what this affords us is a framework to understand the various terms of engagement being played on in what will probably be come to be understood as the data wars. Early skirmishes and alliances in an emerging contract based not on ads, but on information.

New models are emerging between brands, media owners and agencies based on information and data rather than just ads media spend. For example this case of how Twitter data is delivering new targeting capabilities.

Ads are, of course, still in play but data and information is what the new contract is predicated upon. Expand ‘media’ in the above model to include (media) agencies and you understand why the positionings around Audience Management Platforms and audience data are so vital to those involved – its about who controls the insight (and therefore the revenues).

It’s also why brands are (1) increasingly asking why they shouldn’t retain full control and analysis of their own data and (2) why some brands are looking to cut media out all together and go direct to customers (existing or potential) based on the data and information they own. Nike have used this strategy with Fuel, whilst brands like Burberry use a hugely disproportionate amount of their own media to reach people direct. Its also why media businesses now ruthlessly collect and protect first party data, and why the sharing of that data with frememies to match the demand-scale generated by agency groups makes media owners so nervous.

But its between people and the media where the contract is perhaps most vociferously being negotiated. Between Google and the European Courts with legislation that allows people to force Google to delete their data (or at least the links to their information); Facebook’s privacy settings tidy-up was part of this negotiation, as is any site’s publication of it’s cookie and targeting policy.

The other huge players in this part of the negotiation are the telcos (and I include Apple in this bracket) – whose efforts to win the Triple Play wars were awesomely captured by Nic Christensen here last month. This is important for two reasons … first, the Telcos are emerging as some of the biggest accumulators of data – that makes them significant players in the emerging contract and secondly, like the big Bay Area media companies, the data they accumulate can be appropriated by government agencies without our explicit consent.

The fact is that it has been the emergence of this new model, and the concentration of such vast quantities of people’s data into new media businesses and telecoms companies, that has fueled US, UK and other government agencies desire and demand to acquire that data as part of their ambition to ‘master the internet’.

And yet despite all of this the contract remains un-negotiated.

The conversations and debates required to do so are fragmented and diverse, but there are huge implications for brands, agencies and media businesses depending on just how that negotiation pans-out. Who own’s people’s data? Who gets to sell or target and re-target based on that data? How aggressively should and could brands pursue collection of their own customer data? Should it be made more explicit that someone’s data is being captured for advertising or targeting purposes?

To be absolutely clear, it is my opinion that this new contract is an eminently good thing. It is the emergent data and information-based value model that has given all of us access to search, social media, online marketplaces, and a world of information, education and entertainment.

What the contract promises is awesome – but to deliver, it must first be negotiated.

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adserving, broadcasting, distributing, television, viewing

The Netflix Spark: Why the arrival of the SVOD platform heralds a more even distribution of the future for everyone

so yesterday as I was meandering along the freeway in Melbourne I heard the most startling comment on the radio. a contributor to the city’s 3AW station was talking through the highlights of the evenings TV schedule – and suggested that because TV was ‘out of ratings season’ there wouldn’t be much to watch that evening … she gave a special shout-out to Nine who “bless them, were treating us to a new episode of Person of Interest”.

that broadcast TV networks take their foot off the pedal whilst out of season in order to hold new content back for the weeks when ratings is once again tracked is one thing – but for it to be such a consumer-facing matter of fact took me by more than a little surprise. this after all isn’t an industry conversation or debate, but a public radio station – openly discussing the fact that a TV network was “treating” the audience by actually offering them something new to watch.

this rather startling starting point underlines the extent of the firestorm now fully smoldering in the Australian TV market – the spark for which came courtesy of Netflix. on November 19th, after months of rumours and speculation, Netflix finally announced (with timing naughtily designed to crash Nine’s AGM) that it would launch in Australia in March 2015. the response from local Aussie players had been in development for some time. in short:

  • Foxtel, who arguably have most immediate disruption to face, have revisited their pricing strategy across the board and in particular halved the price tag of Presto (their SVOD or Streaming Video On Demand service) to $9.99. in addition they’ve partnered with Seven West Media who will contribute programming to the service from next year.
  • Nine and Fairfax’s joint forces have combined to create the $100m SVOD service StreamCo – with the consumer-facing platform brand Stan. Stan has subsequently announced deals with CBS, BBC Worldwide, MGM and SBS (who will bring their world movies to the party).

all of which leaves us with a three horse race between Netflix, Presto and Stan right?

wrong.

in fact it’s barely the beginning.

there’s Quickflix, Fetch TV, the individual channel catch-up services, Ten have yet to pick a dance partner, the ABC’s iView and of course YouTube – which in July accounted for over 1.5m content streams, reaching almost 11.5m people (source).

taken together there’s increasing volumes of views being delivered to the 50% of Aussies who watch online content. the numbers are already big … according to Nielsen in July there were 2.7bn streams (and that was down on June), and time spent streaming is increasing – up to around 8hrs per person per month generating 6.5bn minutes of streamed content.

and Netflix is still three months away.

the impacts of all this will be significant; in the immediate term there is undoubtedly going to be a firestorm for views and scale – brace for plenty of press releases in the first quarter of 2015 about content deals, views and reach. in the medium term this will play out in a battle for content – with many shows already locked away in local deals, there will be fierce competition between the platforms as distribution rights cycle into play.

the long-term implications will be two-fold. firstly, with increasingly fragmented and diverse platforms and viewing services, advertisers and their agencies will increasingly rely on programmatic solutions to build reach quickly. in addition many advertisers and ad agencies will finally be forced to break out of the ‘advert’ model – using instead platform-neutral content strategies that can adapt to content and context more quickly – generating more relevance for brands’ comms. think native content in video form.

the second long-term implication will be the long-overdue radical shift in viewer expectations. more choice, more freedom to choose what we watch and where, how and when we watch it. this future has been a long-time coming, and has been with some for much longer than others  … as William Gibson so magnificently put it, the future is already here – its just not evenly distributed.

strap in people … because what’s coming is a radically more even distribution of the future – a future in which the idea of being “treated” to a new episode of Person Of Interest by a network, may by as incredulous as the very idea of tuning in to a broadcast network in the first place.

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engaging, radio

Being a true version of yourself: Lessons on transparency from Kyle and Jackie O, and Bethany Mota

so today PHD Australia – as part of our Conversations series – was lucky enough to host a session in which Kyle and Jackie O shared some of their experiences of radio and broadcasting with the agency and some of our awesome clients. it struck me that Kyle and Jackie O were talking about exactly the same thing that Bethany Mota was talking about in a Google Brandcast event for YouTube only a few weeks ago. Transparancy.

both Kyle and Bethany answered a question on what sat behind their success with that same answer – you have to be yourself.

in Bethany’s case she was asked about what enabled her to move so seamlessly between categories … its a marketer’s question clearly, but what struck me was the almost dismissiveness of the answer – there was a sense that it didn’t matter, it was irrelevant what Bethany was up to or talking about … because it was always her doing it. her authenticity is what enabled her to move between fashion, dancing, cooking and now pop-stardom so effortlessly.

I was reminded of that comment today as Kyle was riffing on his relationship with Jackie O, audiences and brands … in all those instances he observed that you have to be – and stay – transparent.

On their on-air relationship and how it translates into audiences, Jackie observed that “people can see through when its forced … people want real chemistry” – it was that authentic chemistry that she said was behind her and Kyle friendship off-air and partnership on air. as Kyle put it: “for years people on TV and radio have been a false version of themselves”.

the same is true of their approach to, and relationship with, brands. Jackie acknowledged that “in this day and age you can’t do contests without client integration” but observed that some of their most memorable content had been through working with brands to create something engaging and compelling for the listener. what something engaging and compelling isn’t are on-air reads – which Kyle hated because he often didn’t know what he was even selling.

its commonality between these two very different media personalities that’s interesting – the established radio duo as entrenched in the paradigms and conventions of traditional media as you get, and the YouTube internet influencer rewriting the rules of what celebrity is. both are stories of authenticity and transparency … and perhaps most of all of being – in Kyle’s words – a true version of yourself.

as advice for brands and communications strategies go – you could do a lot worse.

big thanks to Kyle, Jackie, all the guys at ARN for today, and  Google for the event a few weeks back – and especially to Bethany for putting up with a very excited Chris Stephenson …

Chris and the Bethster

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mediating, social media-ising, social networking

Weapons of Mass Contagion: why our amazement and anger at Facebook’s emotion experiment is misdirected

Featured image: a Wordle of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities which “derives from the Facebook Principles, and is our terms of service that governs our relationship with users and others who interact with Facebook. By using or accessing Facebook, you agree to this Statement.” source

“We’re walking backwards into the future” observed Mark Holden as he introduced Jason Silva at PHD’s keynote at Cannes this year. his elegant observation describes how we can only see the future by looking at what has already happened, we project back over our shoulders to imagine what wonders are to come.

but every now and again we get to peek over our shoulder. occasionally the curtain that hides tomorrow’s world slips, and we get a glimpse of what is to come … and sometimes we come to suspect that our future may already be here. and sometimes we don’t like what we see.

such a slip occurred today when it was revealed that in 2012 Facebook collaborated with academics from Cornell and the University of California in an experiment to manipulate the news feeds of 689,000 users’ home pages … discovering in the process that – through a process known as ’emotional contagion’ the social network could actually make people feel more positive or negative.

they found that exposure to friends’ ‘positive emotional content’ led to fewer positive posts by those users. the opposite – an increase in negative posts occurred when exposure to ‘negative emotional content’ increased.

the reaction has been strong and has emerged from every side of the debate. Clay Johnson of the Barack Obama’s 2008 online presidential campaign commented that “The Facebook ‘transmission of anger’ experiment is terrifying”, whilst professor of law at Maryland University James Grimmelmann said Facebook had failed to gain ‘informed consent’ for the research. Even Jim Sheridan of Britain’s Commons media select committee, weighed in:

“This is extraordinarily powerful stuff and if there is not already legislation on this, then there should be to protect people … They are manipulating material from people’s personal lives and I am worried about the ability of Facebook and others to manipulate people’s thoughts in politics or other areas. If people are being thought-controlled in this kind of way there needs to be protection and they at least need to know about it.”

above quotes via The Guardian

it should be noted that the sheer audacity of a member of the UK Government criticizing data protection is the equivalent of the pot not just calling the kettle black, but hiring the Red Arrows to sky-write in big flashing rainbow letters “that kettle is black and this pot says so” in the skies above London. the UK Government’s (and silent Opposition’s) lack of response to the GCHQ Tempora revelations leaves them with little latitude to point the finger.

and yet they are pointing. and they’re not alone … in fact a small queue is forming around the block at Menlo Park to join in calls for “down with this sort of thing”.

the response is not surprising. its one of (1) our amazement that social contagion exists and is possible at such scale (2) concern that it appears to be so easy to manipulate and (3) anger at the revelation that as the curtain slipped, it revealed that as our lives, adventures, and hook-ups migrate online – we are more exposed, more vulnerable, more subject to the influence of (in the presence of doubt, assumed) dark forces.

if an algorithm can make me happier what does that say about me? if a social network can make me sad what does that say about my ability to self-determine who I am?

and yet this is the deal. this is the contract. every one of us who uses a social network does so with an inherent and reasonable value exchange. the problem isn’t the contract people have made with Facebook or any other social platform … the problem is that most people don’t stop to think about the fact that they’ve signed a contract in the first place.

until a decade ago our contract with media providers and marketing was one of an attention-based value exchange. brands paid for space that paid for content to which we gave our attention in exchange for getting that content for free. brands used that attention to generate reach which led to awareness and sales.

but the contract changed, its just that most people haven’t realised. the contract isn’t just attention based, its now also information based. a new generation of media platforms trade not in attention but information. Facebook trades in information about every aspect of our lives. Google sits on the largest database of intention information in the solar system. platforms sell this information to brands who use it to target, re-target, content create, segment, insight-generate and even start one-on-one conversations with us.

the information they’re using is ours. most people gave it away freely and willingly in a value exchange. an un-negotiated contract in which we handed over data for utility. and our data has bought us riches – Google’s search engine, Spotify’s music streaming, Facebook’s continual partial presence to everyone we know, or the credibility we get from the adulation of our #nofilter Instagram pic.

none of this came for free, we gladly paid for it with our information.

utility, information, education, inspiration, connection, entertainment, advice and Tinder swipes all paid for with information through a contract the existence of which most people are unaware. until the curtain slips.

people shouldn’t be amazed and angry by Facebook’s ability to unleash weapons of mass contagion. they should be amazed and angry that they rushed so headlong into a new contract without considering the implications. our anger is misdirected. Facebook and media organisations like them have created amazing utility in the world. if you’re going to get angry get angry with yourself for thinking that there was ever such a thing as a free lunch Instagram pic.

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advertising, branding, storytelling

What’s your Story?: a tale of two narratives, and a big lesson in the power of narrative via Jamie Oliver and Thank You Group

ah the power of the story.

take the above. a video from Thank You – an organisation that, on discovering that 900 million people didn’t have access to safe drinking water, came up with a bold idea to create a bottled water company that would exist for the sole purpose of funding safe water projects in developing nations.

that was 2008. and now, having diversified into muesli and body care products, an organisation faced with the job of communicating that change to new and potential customers. the solution … not the best video ever made, but a genuinely authentic, honest and transparent one. real people in a real situation with a little novelty, script and editing thrown in.

it comes only a week after B&T reported that struggling Aussie vegetable farmers were ‘pleading’ with Jamie Oliver to intervene on their behalf and encourage Woolies to refund the marketing levy they were being charged to fund his ad campaign for the supermarket.

where do you start? no really … the dominance of the supermarket oligopoly? the David and Goliath struggle of growers and distributors? the relevance of the UK-based Oliver (who is awesome and who has done genuinely amazing things for healthy eating efforts) in all of this? the scale of paid versus the engagement and authenticity of earned media?

well I guess like any good story you start at the beginning …

once upon at time there was the story. we told stories that saved our ancestors from being trampled by wildebeest or running off of a cliff. then our stories took on moral and ethical dimensions, they passed on information and knowledge and created archetypes to which we still relate.

… our stories became assimilated by nation states and groups of individuals to describe and define identity. they communicated our struggles and challenges and victories and journeys, on every media, in every society and community on the planet. language was our first technology, and communication – of our hopes, fears and ideas – has become a defining factor of the human condition.

and so we arrive at two very different brand and marketing stories, the dissection and evaluation of which is less important than the lesson their juxtaposition invites: stories are ancient, powerful, emotional and transformative things,

… make sure you’re part of a good one.

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adserving, debating, futuregazing, predicting, programmatic buying

Reunification isn’t going to happen so get over it: Why media is already planning for a future that’s here already. and why that’s awesome.

last week Adnews posted the above video from earlier this year in which the CEO of Cummins & Partners Sean Cummins lambasted the egos of agencies as the only thing stopping the grand reunification of media and advertising agencies under one roof. Cummins was rebuffed by both Henry Tajer “There is no going back, there is no return, there is nothing but forward” and Rob Morgan “With all the money media agencies need to spend on planning and buying, no ad agency has the cash or the clients to justify doing the same”.

the return to full-service debate is not only unfounded (there is no going back, silly) but misses the broader point that both Tajer and Morgan make (whilst still managing to disagree) … that, if anything, we’re set to see further diversification rather than consolidation of media agency offerings.

to get an idea of just how far media has moved on – take a look at this little puppy, and make a mental note of when you need to start really concentrating to track exactly what is going on.

OK so anyone with a bit of media know-how can stay on the tracks, but remember this is the Sesame Street version of what’s happening. this is programmatic buying for dummies, simplified so that even a strategist can understand it. just about. programmatic now exists at one extreme end of the spectrum across which media agencies operate – and I don’t think its what Cummins has in mind when he’s making his bid for reunification.

this spectrum across which agencies operate is reflected, I increasingly believe, in a bifurcation that now exists in how people consumer media. conventional wisdom is that media consumption is now a fragmented, disparate and diverse set of behaviours and attitudes that necessitates the need for a host of segmentation and profiling to understand the media footprint for a specific target group.

but I’m increasingly wondering if it isn’t a whole lot more simple … that people sit at one or other end of a spectrum of media consumption – and therefore planning. or, as the rather awesome William Gibson put it: “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed”. the future is here, and it’s distributed exclusively at the programmatic end of the media spectrum.

… the end of the spectrum at which people have now moved so post-broadcast that the very idea of appointment to view is something they associate with house rather than TV viewing. these are the platform-agnostics. the content-demanders. the subscription viewers, like the 325k who watched last nights GOT S4 finale (thanks for the heads up MCM). they are the digital natives who have only ever accessed the internet through apps (not browsers). they are the rampant social mediarites and twitterati, an army of instgrammers who get news from buzzfeed and buzz from newsfeeds.

it’s for these people that content, social and a host of other offerings including – yes – programmatic buying capabilities have been developed and deployed by media agencies. capabilities that will see further diversification not reunification into their ad agency houses of old. for these people the future is already here and they and their smart phones and TVs are reveling in it. do they expect more or brands? no. do brands need to radically adjust their comms strategies to market to them? yes … and that adjustment has barely started.

… we’ll get a glimpse of just how far we yet have to go in a little over three hours when PHD’s Mark Holden introduces Jason Silva to the Cannes stage. the session is designed as a complete paradigm reboot of the mind-set through which we see the (media) world. changes that, in Mark and Jason’s words, will open up boundless possibilities.

so let’s put aside our reunification talk. we’re well past that point of return. we all of us – media and ad agencies alike – are on the same trip to those endless possibilities … the perspectives are different but that’s only to be expected: after all, the future is here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.

you can watch Jason’s Cannes presentation live as it happens right here … enjoy the trip.

featured image – Jason Silva and his ‘come to future’ eyes, via flavorwire.com

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collaborating, gamifying, gaming, pioneering

The Great Game: Of Paradigms, Creativity and Intrinsic Rewards … Lessons and Musings on the Joys of Gamification

the above awesome video is Jane McGonigal’s presentation to Cannes this year, at which Jane explored how we can harness the power of games to solve real-world problems and boost global happiness. Jane is introduced by PHD’s very own Mark Holden, who was inspired by Jane’s book to add a game layer to our global operating system, Source.

it’s been a genuine pleasure to have been involved in not just the development of Source over the last two years, but more recently being able to help lead the charge for the great gamification in the Australia. we’ve written a book called Game Change (available on Amazon from January) which explores the background, history and current context of gamification … and at the start of this month in conjunction with Mumbrella we facilitated a Gamification masterclass …

the amazingness of Colin Cardwell of 3rd Sense and Marigo Raftopoulos of the Strategic Games Lab led sessions which walked the assembled masterclass crowd through approaches, strategies and tactics for gamifying their own businesses or marketing efforts. whilst Colin and Marigo were talking I was struck by several things:

first up, and this is a point made brilliantly by Jane in the above presentation, gamification is genuinely a new paradigm in how we work. in his book The Play Ethic, Pat Kane suggests that “Play will be to the 21st century what work was to the Industrial Age – our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value” … the potential is huge – if we unlock even a fraction of the engagement currently spent on play to create shared human value the effects could be genuinely transformative.

the second though that occurred to me is that like any great project a problem well defined is a problem half solved. similarly when gamifying (I’ll call it G from here on in) a process, you need to be crystal clear on what your business and / or marketing objective is … applying G shares many of the same considerations and questions that a conventional approach to tackling a brief requires – don’t forget the basics.

Marigo and Colin both made clear the point that the process of G comprises around 10% design and 90% iteration. I was struck by the parallels in the efforts of game design and how marketing efforts work in a post-digi, content socialised age. in a reversal of the broadcast model (90% effort crafting the message, 10% effort towards shouting it as loud as possible), G requires that your projects have a beta sensibility (PHD’s Source is still in beta despite being live for almost a year) – think always on, always listening, always redeveloping, always creating, always deploying.

focus on what the ‘desired target behaviours’ are … what do you actually want people to do as a result of your gamification efforts? being really clear on this helps you navigate the mechanics that you look to bring to bear on a project or process.

G isn’t a replacement for an idea. the best examples of G often have an awesome, smart, idea at the heart of them. think the speed camera lottery or Jay-Z’s decoded (below) … in both these cases G isn’t a replacement for two awesome ideas – rather it was the approach that allowed the ideas to flourish. creativity counts.

the final thought that occurred to me was that when you think about the rewards you offer when gamifying a process, intrinsic beats extrinsic. always. perhaps it’s the Spotify Christmas playlist that I’m listening to as I write this, but G is a reminder that we are generally much more motivated by intrinsic forces (for the love of doing something) than we are by extrinsic rewards (eg payment) … yeah we can offer some dollars here or a prize there, but what really gets us humans going is a cause or task – no matter how audacious – that we can care about.

which gives us something to ponder between the mice pies and sprouts … whether its adding value rather than demanding attention (or as John Willshire would say ‘making things people want not making people want things’), designing utility, or creating communications that are as responsive and relevant as each and every user they reach – what does intrinsic thinking … intrinsic marketing look like when its radically embraced by marketing and communications.

speaking of intrinsic rewards, I’ll leave you with the first seven seconds of the below Mumbrella Hangout with me, Tim and Mark Holden. wait for it … “and we’re live”.

Merry Christmas everyone

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advertising, storytelling

Of BBQs, Basting and Bears: Lessons in the power of multi-channel storytelling from this year’s crop of festive campaigns

this week on the Addington Bugle-sponsored PHDcast we talk the future of retail and Christmas ads. obviously. it being five weeks(ish) out from the big day thoughts turn to Santa’s sack, goodwill amongst people, and GRPs – after all who wouldn’t want a healthy carryover of adstock into the week before Christmas.

and so it came to pass that this was the week that Aussie retailers launched the slings and arrows of their Chrimbo adverts. first up we have Coles and Woolies going head to head with Curtis Stone basting food porn in the red corner, and in the green corner newcomer Jamie Oliver throwing a BBQ for Aussies in London (a deliberate choice of location we’re sure).

meanwhile the department stores give us the art of giving from Myer and, well, I’m not sure what from David Jones (B&T go with ‘a DJ’s branded Christmas cracker exploding to reveal a colourful array of gifts’, which is good enough for me).

of course the daddy of Christmas ads is John Lewis, who (as you’ll already know as the YouTube video is past 6.1m views already) this year unleashed a Lily Allen soundtracked Disney-inspired tale of the Bear who gets woken by a Hare for Christmas.

its amazing. of course. but where John Lewis genuinely stands out is not the creative solution, but the media infrastructure build around their story. the Lily Allen soundtrack (which has the chance of keeping a reality-TV winner off the Chrimbo #1 spot), the interactive eBook narrated by Lauren Laverne, the digital Christmas card maker, and of course activation of the ideas in stores … all add up to a genuinely integrated effort to deploy a story into the pre-Christmas season rather than just an ad.

its a valuable and timely lesson in the power of story; told elegantly, across multiple platforms, both broadcast and demanded, which stretches from awareness and salience all the way through to retail engagement – and all without a hero product shot in sight.

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