gathering at The Four Seasons for The Australian's inaugural breakfast series
dispatches for the Sydney media world … this week saw The Australian on, yes, bullish form at it's inaugural Media breakfast series. many of Sydney's media agency kids gathered at The Four Seasons to hear Geoff Elliott chair a panel of Nick Leeder (Deputy CEO, The Australian), Malcolm Turnbull (Federal Member for Wentworth and former Leader of the Opposition), Andrew Murrell (GM Channel Market, Commonwealth bank of Australia) and Richard Eary (Head of Media and Telecommunications Research, UBS Equities) discuss convergence, iPads and a lot in between.
but it was Richard Freudenstein, CEO of The Australian and NDM who kicked things off. describing the context of the "rise of aggressive technological companies" that may prove "potentially quite disruptive to professional media companies". I'll let you digest the 'potentially', 'quite' and 'professional' bits of that quote on your own time…
Freudenstein kicked off the bullish tone in fine form… declaring that the organisation is "aiming for an increase in print circulation" and that it is "our intention to be the pre-eminent source of news at all times across all platforms" … "NewsCorp fully intends to be across all [emerging] platforms … it's cheap, current and constantly up to date"
but it was the Admiral himself who continued NewsCorp's bullish tone. Rupert Murdoch addressed the room via a recorded video, and in comments reported this week in The Guardian, heaped praise on Steve Jobs and his iPad, of which Murdoch is so fond… but the Admiral's battle charge began with comments aimed at recent adversary Google. he noted that he had "ruffled some feathers" but that "the debate needed to be had" … and, in a delightfully provocative comment that "The argument that information wants to be free is only said by those who want it for free" … lovely stuff
Murdoch described how "we are witnessing the start of a new business model for the internet" … "people are willing to pay for high quality content, as long as we deliver it how and where they want it" (Murdoch missed out the last bit of that sentence: …and as long as that content is not available for free elsewhere)
and then to the panel debate, where NewsCorp's bullish tone continued unopposed by the rest of the panel. it started OK, when Elliott asked Eary if newspapers were dead? Eary replied that "its a good question" … cue nervous laughter from the NewsCorp crowd. but it didn't last long – Eary went on to say that "there is some degree of optimism" and that "even if paywalls are put up there's a big audience to monetise" … "if you look at digital CPMs vs Press CPMs there's a big divide" – his point… that better targeting (behind paywalls) generate higher CPMs. all very on message.
and how the message continued… "You don't want to bet against yourself – we're not seeing circulation decline" … "we need to grow in both directions" … "be careful you don't import [from the US and UK] the narrative" … "the beauty of an app is that the technology goes away [the iPad is introducing] serendipity back into the browsing experience"
you were hard-pressed to find anything off what was clearly a very well constructed message to Sydney's media community. that NewsCorp and The Australian are growing and on top of emerging platforms and technologies. the only descension came from what I had considered to be the most unlikely of places… Malcolm Turnbull seemed to be the only challenge on the platform, the only voice of question.
Turnbull pointed out the "devastating loss of value" that the internet had brought about in media organisations, and raised valid and critical questions about the rise of video and the effect of new technologies on news organsations. his questions and concerns were simply brushed away, with Nick Leeder, deputy CEO of The Australian commenting that "people have to sift through the nonsense they see on Twitter" and that "YouTube is great for dogs with skate boards.
which all-in-all was a shame. being bullish is good for business, it's good for shareholders and its good for negotiations and for bravado. but it's not good for the important debate that needs to be had about the future of media and communications. it's restrictive, limiting and adds nothing to the knowledge bank of media planners and clients picking their way through an evolving communications landscape.
NewsCorp can talk all they like about Twitter's "nonsense" and YouTube's "dogs with skateboards", the revolution is coming, whether they like it or not. being Bullish will only get you so far.
thanks to Lauren for the heads up that NBC is today launching 'fan it', a initiative that the company describes as a "win-win opportunity that broaden's [our] shows' visibility" … "What better way to spread the word about our shows than with the help of our loyal fans" asks Adam Stotsky, president of NBC entertainment marketing. quite right.
essentially viewers interact with shows and they're rewarded with fan points, and points mean prizes; be they exclusive early access to shows, merchandise, or discounts. you can even win 'big-ticket sweepstakes items', like props from the Office.
there's much to be lauded about NBC's effort. its rewarding fans of shows for being fans of shows, which generates that most potent and valuable of comms properties: word of mouth. but rather than having a WOM strategy that at best involves an occasional email and at worst involves crossing fingers and hoping for the best, NBC are investing in WOM that they can consistently stimulate, interact with, and measure.
but I wonder if it goes far enough, and fear that its doesn't… there's a danger that this is seen as the newest and shiniest way to promote programmes… a bit like this…
old school TV marketing trap, with Social as added-on component
but Social is a different and much more potent beast than conventional advertising… for one, its intrinsically part of the shows that stimulate it. there's no filtering or polishing, no Photoshopping up the best bits; what people generate based on what stimulates then is what gets created and deployed.
for another, there's less control over how much gets created and what the sentiment of it is… conversations and word of mouth can go both ways. NBC would never create an ad saying "this show isn't as good as we thought it was going to be, but stick with it cos its got a great team and some legs yet", but that could easily be the nature of a conversation around one of it's shows in the social space.
and finally – unlike advertising – when social media talks back you can hear it. the many whoops and sighs, cheers and jibes that echo around online conversations (and beyond) as a result of TV shows that we know and sometimes love are there for the social network and broadcast network to hear. what the broadcast network chooses to do with that social networked conversation, with that collateral, is up to them…
I'd suggest that for all these reasons, Social is better seen as a 'shell' which surrounds TV product. a shell which is intrinsically part of the TV product; reflecting, amplifying, and sometimes influencing the content that stimulates it.
new school TV marketing opportunity, with Social as shell which is amplified out
this is the real role of Social Media for TV. NBC have taken a glorious step with 'fan-it', but social is not a block on a schedule to be added on, rather its the prism thru which shows are advertised. and moreover, its the collateral that's there to be deployed online and – increasingly – on-air…
'fan-it' can be a broadcast network-out initiative or it can be social network-in conversation. the choice – and the challenge – may be NBC's, but 'fan-it' remains a brilliant next step – for both networks – towards a new TV media ecology.
“the broadcast model isn’t broken… yet. how prepared are agencies for when it breaks?” was the question I wanted to put to the Q&A panel at last week’s iMedia Agency Summit in Sydney. whilst I didn’t get the chance to ask the panel, I did get the opportunity to ask it to Rohan Lund of Yahoo!7, but more of that later.
yes, this week saw the AdTech Summit series hit Sydney, part of which was the iMedia festival which I attended along with around one hundred of my Sydney media counterparts. all in all it was a day of more questions than answers, but that was to be expected I, well, expect. that said, some genuine morsels emerged, which (after a bit of an absence from the blogosphere) I thought I’d share… here then, is what happened at iMedia, at AdTech, at Sydney…
Unilever brands that have utilised the social media space
first up, delivering the keynote welcome, was Unilever’s Babs Rangaiah (@babs26) who described how he and others are pioneering in the Social Media space at the company. its necessary stuff in his opinion, pointing out that only 18% of TV campaigns generate positive ROI, and that 24 of the top 25 biggest newspapers are undergoing circulation decline.
his three observations were that Unilever is (1) living the [social media] space, (2) re-framing their thinking re Social media and Applications [ie NOT pre-rolls – thats the broadcast solution applied to the online paradigm], he cited BBH’s Axe Wake Up Service app from Japan (above), and (3) rewriting its media manifesto along these lines, as would be written by customers:
be part of the world – Rangaiah pointed out the gap between time spent online and advertising spend online
penetrate our culture – the move from interruption to engagement; is what we create useful, entertaining or interesting? he cited the example of the Dove for Men campaign, which after scooping up a SuperBowl spot proceeded to land its American Football-playing star a seat on Oprah’s couch
give us a voice and a role – Best Job In The World anyone?
be authentic – anyone unclear on this one just Google Dell Hell…
listen to us
create more value – “you want us to pay? … [then] we want you to pay attention”
don’t be so corporate
keep it simple – good one this, if you can’t explain an idea to a non-marketing friend or partner in ten seconds then its probably to complex to ever get traction
telling friends – WoM is the most powerful form on advertising [Alleluia Babs, Alleluia]
he ended on a topic that would be the subject of some debate for the rest of the day… how the rapid evolution on metrics in the online space has created its own rewards but also problems. from clicks and impressions to unique users to engagement or stickiness and now ROI … measuring success has never been so possible nor so complex.
next up was the lovely Megan Brownlow, Entertainment and Media Editor for PWC’s Outlook, which complies stats on ‘where the money is’ in the entertainment and media spaces… this is facts given meaning not opinions back up with stats, so worth paying attention to, especially a key observation re consumer spending vs advertiser spending…
PWC’s five year view looks a lot like this
PWC revenue predictions as presented at iMedia Summit last week in Sydney
put simply, people are predicted to spend proportionately more on entertainment and media (content) than advertisers will spend on media. good news if your media business model is predicated on creating and distributing stuff that people will want and pay for. bad news if your media business model is taking commission on advertising spend. a problem further compounded by the well documented explosion in inventory, which any economist will tell you will lead to lower yields for media publishers and agencies.
Brownlow described the ‘structural change’ of this versus other recessions. the recovery will be shallower than any previous one, “a crawl rather than a jump out”, but not for everyone. between 2003 and 2009 search revenues have increased from 31% of ad revenues to 50.4% – 90% of which, no one needs reminding, goes to one company.
the big growth is in consumer pay models, where growth is predicted to be 5.5% CAGR (’09-’13). hence media owners and publishers seeking hybrid business models (another hot topic of the day) to monetise content. Brownlow noted research suggesting that, for example, in newspapers people will pay, but only for verticals – a proportion (Finance 97%, Sport 77%) of the hard copy price as long as that same content is not available for free elsewhere. in this context Murdoch’s rallying cry to the newspaper industry to declare war on Google makes immaculate sense. her final observation was that even if hybrid pay models work, lost revenues won’t be replaced. the annihilation of the old model of newspaper publishing is still an inevitability.
Brownlow’s final observation however was a cold shower for any Australians readying themselves for seats of honour in the digital revolution after-show party. compared to the rest of the world, the country is significantly lagging in online adoption, with revenues in the online space in the region of 25%, compared with 31% globally and up to 50% in countries such as south east Asia. “traditional media ‘owns’ the market in Australia for a long time yet to come”. the reasons, infrastructure (and therefore effectively ISP cost) and attitude… the former understandable given the countries geography, the latter frustrating to say the least in a country with such an entrepreneurial culture (my observation not Brownlow’s).
three ‘game-changers’ to end with: (1) the NBM or National Broadcast Network, a government initiative to hardwire the nation by 2017, but which Goldman Sachs predicts will be only 50% complete by then, (2) mobile, yes 2010 IS mobile’s year and (3) interactive games, with a 7.5% growth forecast, 2.2bn market and two structural changes to boost the sector in the form of mobile and online gaming. play on.
next up the enigmatic Ed Smith of NDM who started with a topic that was to become one of the themes of the day… that of volume versus value in the online space. he made two observations – one, that (average) click rates were down from 32% to 16%; and two, that 8% of people accounted for 80% of clicks. so just how valuable is a click? how many brands and businesses are so overly obsessed with generating clicks that they’re “going out of business as cost effectively as possible”? …he questioned what the point of [100%] paid-for search was when you’re not investing in product or marketing initiatives that ‘build the brand’?
this was a phrase that kept on cropping up, bit of a fat phrase (and not in a good street way)… ultimately by ‘build the brand’ I suspect the speakers were referring to brand associations. and raising the (valid) question of how long the broadcast interruption model can create and sustain brand associations (ie what ‘brands’ effectively are) if we’re all collectively ignoring / avoiding more, clicking less, and paying for content direct.
Smith went on to give the publishers’ perspective wrt post-broadcast print… describing some of the emerging platforms he played with at a recent tech conference. I was going to ask him “how he was intending to meet the challenge of defending margins when the cost of producing content is no longer matched by advertising revenues?” … but we know the answer to this, it’s the much talked about hybrid model… of combining (lower) ad revenues with direct payment from people for the content. the ‘iPad $ a day’ model. Smith’s retort to those who question the sustainability of the hybrid model: “People who say ‘people won’t pay for content’ don’t know what’s possible”. to that point, he showed us this:
he observed that the NYT’s iPad application launched with three advertisers each paying US$200k for the privilege and challenged the audience with the question “are your digital media choices making your brand bigger or smaller?”
the end of the morning saw Fairfax Digital’s CEO Jack Matthews take up some of the themes opened by Smith… “consumer demand for media, in all it’s forms, has never been greater”, “a new era of online advertising”, “direct response get’s too big a share of the media mix”, “the future of media companies and agencies is to add value” … there’s a clear direction of travel from publishers here; away from trading debates based on the value of a click, towards trading debates predicated on the value of the audience the publisher is providing…
Matthews outlined three change catalysts in the space: (1) three screens (2) building brands on desktops and (3) agency / campaign integration
he made a delightful observation on the three screen model: “if the desktop user is a browser, then a mobile user is a hunter”. I have a lot of time for that, it really focuses how you think about adding value to people in the mobile space. he reiterated the belief that “people are willing to pay for content on mobile devices”, and pointed out the projected rise of video advertising on the desktop – 48% CAGR in ad revenues to 2014. he also made it quite clear to the audience that Fairfax Digital is in the business of and focusing on “building engaged audiences more than reach”.
he ended with a call for integration, observing that “we have no aligned metric for measuring ‘brand building’ [that phrase again] online”, and that there’s not enough integration within agencies on aligning on and offline media. he acknowledged that his organisation had to be more prepared to work with other organisations too… an acknowledgment that he described as a “fundamental shift” in Fairfax’s position.
after post-lunch sessions by Michael Hendricks, Head of Decision Management, CitibankAsia Pacific (“we’re about acquiring the right customers, not the most”, “our most valuable customers use all of our channels most of the time”) and Corporate Anthropologist (who knew?) Michael Henderson, it was back to the media agenda with Rohan Lund of Yahoo!7…
58% of Yahoo!7’s audience media ‘mesh’ at least several times a week: 95% on email, 63% on social networks, 54% to get more info on a show and 40% to follow-up on an ad they’ve seen… time spent online watching video is now 13%, and very much social.
Lund challenged the session – in a context of content, content content – to question what our business models were? access isn’t enough. “we [Yahoo!7] make it easier for users to access content that matters to them most”, adding that “our businesses are data businesses … our core business is targeting”.
he outlined Yahoo!7’s recently launched catch up service, thru which every primetime show is available. he described how the ambition is to get the browser closer to a TV environment, and talked thru the challenges of making TV shows available for different IPTV-ready TV models. interestingly, for non-partner TVs they’ve introduced open-source development. and he was quite clear that he saw no reason why online video CPMs will never be lower than for TV; in effect a premium for targeting.
back to the question I asked at the start of the post, I put to Lund that “the broadcast model isn’t broken… yet. how prepared are agencies
for when it breaks?” … he believed that agencies are becoming more integrated, and understanding better the balance between on and offline. but acknowledged the elephant in the room; that “no one ever got fired for buying TV”, and that people are still “hiding behind TV as a safe solution”…
good to have it out and said, and credit to Lund for doing so… but I think its less about TV being seen as the safe solution, and more the reach and delivery of the broadcast model that’s seen as the safe solution. the absurdness of this just gets truer every day. if the iMedia summit made one thing clear its that the figures are now starting to track the theory. viewing fragmenting, click rates decreasing, ad avoidance up… and the solution? a continued clinging to the sinking ship that is broadcast interruption. it’s like the Titanic’s going down and the industry is scrabbling to get on board…
this was followed by (for me) one the highlights of the day as Sean Finnegan, President and Chief Digital Officer at Starcom MediaVest Group took us thru his vision for his media agency’s digital offering.
his logic is crystal: clients are struggling to deliver accountability in rapidly changing markets where its harder to connect with consumers. agencies therefore need restructure and resource to provide a range of new offerings: RealTime consumer insight, actionable insights, and content – all created by what Finnegan describes as ‘liquid talent’. how…
business intelligence and hub formations
data exchanges (in the US buying of non-identify-able consumer data is now mainstream)
standardised findings with consumers and the industry (common and consistent measurement)
instant content delivery, real time text and video (eg EA’s Tiger Woods video)
strategic alliances, frenemies have never been more important…
he observed that “efficient pricing is no longer a value add”, and that “marketers and agencies that focus only on price are leaving value on the table”. we’ve gone “from a linear to a networked comms infrastructure [which] creates a transfer of power to the consumer”. he noted that we “need to start understanding the passions and behaviours of individuals [across media platforms]”, and observed that this would have inherent problems for publishers.
he also outlined his thoughts on the media agency offering… “because of our proximity to consumers we have to be more adept at design and messaging”, but also gave a stark warning to media isolationists: “you need to be confident enough to partner with competitors that are better than you to deliver the best solutions for your clients … the more we give away, the more we grow”.
his view on the future of the Starcom’s digital offering is clear: a move away from media people as aggregators towards media people as analysis of data, interpreting, modeling and projecting for clients and brands. his people will be more account managerial and who are less in the business of “killing bad news” and more in the business of “selling the best ideas”.
so what to make of it all?
great day and some interesting comment and debate, but you can’t help but leave with the impression that there’s far more questions than answers. but perhaps that’s well and good, it’s an easy cliche to say that there’s never been a more interesting time to work in media… but its true never the less. for more than three years this blog has set itself the task of negotiating the future of media and communications; a task is no less interesting, gripping and exciting than it was when in November 2006 I wrote my first post on TV (versus) online:
“the internet is television. but it’s television on viewers’ rather than broadcaster’s terms. the issue isn’t the demise of TV, but the decline of the broadcast model and of the broadcaster as commissioning editor and content aggregator.”
its vaguely how terrifying how little has changed. the debate, the argument and the negotiation continues, and we’re all the better for forums like iMedia in which to talk, and for that matter drink, it out…
the established institutions of 'old' media were always going to take the hardest hits as the combined effects of a global advertising slowdown and a digitising media economy came to bear. such seems to have been the case. according to Warc's latest Consensus Forecast, 2009 TV revenues in the States will fall 10.9% yoy versus total global ad spend yoy decline of 10.5%. more substantial 2009 decreases in TV are anticipated in the UK, France, Germany and Japan.
looking forward to 2010, TV could very well be the area of media that not only emerges most strongly from the recession, but charges out guns blazing leading the brigade of other media behind it. the same Warc report suggests that marketers in two-thirds of the sample are intending to devote more revenues into TV next year, with Brazil, China and India up by more than 11%, the US by 1.8%, and France by 1.3%.
in fact whilst advertising revenues have declined throughout the recession, there seems to have been limited disruption on the quality of networks' output. new offerings, such as the US's FlashForward or Australia's Celebrity Masterchef have emerged and more than held their own. and whilst it could be argued that reality TV has more than shaped current TV output globally, it hasn't stopped the likes of Glee and Modern Family making their mark.
but despite strong content and a return of ad revenues in 2010, viewing will surely switch online right? well no necessarily so. this week also saw a report from the UK's Enders Analysis arguing that the scale of the VOD market has been overplayed, and that by 2020 the overall national UK average of VoD viewing will be 5%;
"and at these levels, and after taking into account the lower tolerance of interruptive advertising in on-demand programming, non-linear VOD services are unlikely to have a significant impact on commercial spot advertising revenues during the next 10 years … the traditional linear broadcast TV model continues to work well in terms of reliability, simplicity, ease of choice and ability to deliver popular programming with mass appeal"
but all this is without taking into account the phase shift that could and should happen with TV in the year ahead. 2010 could be the year that TV genuinely goes social… as the Guardian observed in a cracking data-fueled article on Jedward's storming of the Twittersphere;
"Every Saturday and Sunday night, Twitter is exploding with real-time boos, back-pats and reactions to the show's performances. It's a re-imagining of the old-media watercooler ("Did you see The X Factor last night?") in live, online space ("Omg jedward are through!") – and it could point the way to the future of TV…"
as Gary Hayes, a former development producer for the BBC who now lives in Sydney and blogs rather awesomely here, points out:
"we now know when our attention is required, especially those inciting moments when emotion or serendipity may be possible. So with these two things happening there are a growing number of services trying to glue the two – either bringing the TV to the back-channel or layering the back-channel ‘over’ the TV" (source)
hayes has aggregated a whole host of services, either existing or in development, that are bring TV to the social space and vice-versa. here are three of my favourites (all sourced from Hayes' original post):
EpiX has high-profile backing from the likes of Viacom, Paramount, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Lionsgate. it's a platform for viewing content online, but specifically you can invite your mates to private screening rooms and interact with them… ITV if you're listening, X-Factor was made for this…
another favourite (and another example of the increasing warmth between and cooperation by the Gates and Murdoch organisations) in the shape of X-Box and Sky who have teamed up to make the latter's content available on the former's entertainment console. but the basics of the streaming aside, the really interesting bits are when the TV screen pans back and your in a room with your and your mates' avatars. representations that you can support, deride, encourage, laugh at or ask questions of. real social interactivity in real time with real people…
there's a full video of a presentation that Xbox product manager Jerry Johnson gave to paidContent:UK here – jump to 5 mins 40 secs to get the social bit:
finally, on the mobile front there's tvChatter, a iPhone application that allows you to connect TV content to the Twitterstream relating to that show in real time. you can follow Tweets from everyone or just from people you follow. and if you're not sure what to watch, you can see which shows are generating the most interest and check them out:
this is exciting stuff. and I'm not pretending for a second that its anything new: we've been talking about, SMSing and debating TV for years. but never have we been so connected to so many people we know in real time to do so. never have the conversations about the TV we love been so prevalent and so accessible. I hope then that 2010 isn't just the year that TV sees a resurgence in revenues, but also the year that TV finally gets social… we will never look at our screens in the same way again.
great brands don't need to advertise. right? great brands generate their own publicity. great brands grow through word of mouth. great brands invest in innovation which gets itself talked about. great brands activate their networks, excite their advocates and set the Twittersphere ablaze.
great brands pity lesser brands that need to resort to broadcast advertising to get their products and services in front of the masses because they haven't mastered the new media economy. great brands don't advertise, right? …wrong:
Emily FK kindly sent me the attached today (yesterday…) from London… Google. advertising. with a cover wrap. on the Metro. things we really, really, never thought we'd see.
on viewing it I recalled an ancient Chinese curse that goes along the lines of "may you live in interesting times". they didn't value change did the ancient Chinese. boy are we collectively cursed – interesting times indeed. one of two things is happening here, you can take your pick…
option one: the Google (money) train is faltering. their core business of search continues, of course, to be a juggernaut that is in very good health. but could the non-core products and services that are fueled by the juggernaut be feeling a little more heat?
its the only realistic explanation… despite coming from the fine-tuned stable of Goggle new media marketing, Chrome has failed to get traction in the marketplace. the very handy market share reports that Chrome's current share is hovering at 3%, compared to Firefox's 23% plus and the collective Explorers' best part of 60%…
three percent. that's a figure that Google executives haven't seen for a while and no doubt has them spooked. they need more than 3% and they're going to throw money at getting it, because the information about what we browse, what we do and who we are is invaluable; and in Google's hands its game-changing.
the reasons as to why traction hasn't been hit could be numerous and are almost certainly a combination of apathy, familiarity with existing browser, anti-Googleness ("they've got enough information already" kind of thing), and perhaps even awareness. one would hope that the latter has some part to play, for I fear for the ability of a press cover wrap to make a major dent in any of the other potential barriers.
there is of course option two… that in the evolution of media and communication, there's a need for both sides of the equation. or indeed every side of the cube if you get what I mean. that its not enough for a brand to be a 'broadcast' brand or a 'networked' brand. all this could mean that there's a time and a place for one to many, as well as a time and a place for many to many.
option two could mean that there's there's no such thing as old and new media. there is only media. media thats owned and rented out at a negotiated CPT by big business. media that's made by individuals with a passion and an opinion or two. media created by brands that they can subsequently own and leverage to tell the world why they exist. media that we respect, share, love to hate, assume credibility, trash, believe, pass on, or – indeed – read on our way to work before logging on and checking out a new browser.
Google advertising on Metro. proof, like we needed it, that media probably never was and certainly won't ever be simple ever again.
yesterday Mediatel held their annual Media Playground and Mediation popped along for the afternoon seminar discussing Digital Broadcast. it's a broad topic area, covering emerging technologies, content, changing consumer behaviours and rapidly evolving business models. one thing is clear – we have a lot more questions than we have answers.
it was apparent that we're entering an age of complexity in how content is created, deployed and consumed. no one solution will predominate. Bruce Daisley – Agency Leader at YouTube – observed that it's less about the platform, and referred to a 'long tail' of competitors. that content rules, was echoed by the panel…
Rhys McLachlan – head of implementational TV at MediaCom – noted that this is, ultimately, what consumers will resolutely follow. this was echoed by Jon Mitchell of Spotify who suggested that Hulu – recently down 3% – is plateauing. they have (as opposed to Spotify) a limited amount of content, to thrive in a digital content economy you need ubiquity of supply.
and where eyeballs go commercial impacts follow right? not necessarily. McLachlan, in one of several soap-box moments, commented that "clients are increasingly risk adverse" and that "it's hard to invest in channels that are unproven. there's an absence of valid metrics out there … we are retreating to rather than flighting to quality. people who want a share of my broadcast budget aren't making a strong enough case for their platforms"
McLachlan went on to comment that "we're complicit in perpetuating a trading model that was created in the 1950s … we need to move on from this legacy model, a model that's been broken for some time".
it occurred to me that it's not the only model that's broken. what so often get's lost in the maelstrom of how to aggregate and commercialise impacts in the new world of digital broadcast are the opportunities to engage audiences beyond the spot. the spot is important and will not vanish into history anytime soon, indeed Daisley noted that YouTube's best performing ad (Gorilla of course) out-viewed their best performing piece of longer-form content (Wallace and Gromit if you're interested) by a ratio of forty toone "YouTube", he said, "is empirical evidence that great ads work".
but the spot ad no longer sits alone in the communications toolbox, and to approach commercialising long-form on-demand content by interrupting with ads really does defy belief. interruption in a on-demand world is at best a contradiction in terms and at worst a failure to grasp the brilliant opportunities that on-demand offers the brands (and for that matter agencies) willing to embrace it…
because if anything is true as we negotiate the future of media and communications it is this; that brands and brand communications have – like everything else – to be in demand.
Free TV : Ustream
the idea that there will ever again be a status quo in media planning has surely got to be abandoned. technology and interaction are now evolving at such a pace that the challenge is not just how best to use what's out there but firstly to know what's out there.
he's not alone. loads of people are doing it. assuming you have a good enough phone (current limiting factor but this will change), you can upload your clips direct to your own broadcast stream. better than that – if you see something cool you can start live broadcasting it – there and then – from your phone to your mates, or whoever…
I never thought I'd say this, but I guess we all have a thing or one to learn from P Diddy. if he can do it why aren't brands? how often are we and the clients we work with creating reasons and incentives for people to engage there and then with experiences that are happening right now in the real world?
it's difficult, but the reality is that we're moving to a world of video being everywhere always. that's a lot of competition for our precious advertising space. I for one – no matter how much I sometimes feel I have yet to learn – want to understand this now… cos the brands that get this sooner rather than later may be the ones that don't just thrive, but survive, in a digital world where any status quo no longer and will never exist.
and so to Benjamin Button (great but too long), which Mediation caught last weekend at the Brixton Ritzy; or more specifically the ads that came before it. the new adidas effort with Becks at the coolest house party ever was on show (wonderful – very post-Skins – and cracking seeing it in the cinema), but what caught my attention was the new Ka effort.
opening with the copy '80 Kas?', the ad clearly invites you to look for and find the 80 Ka images hidden in the ad. the fact that you could never catch them all in one view means that you have to follow the trail online. after a bit of online exploring you eventually reach http://www.gofindit.net, only this appears not to exist, as you're immediately directed to Ford's corporate space for Ka.
so far so complicated. the site then has a host of product stuff and ways you can engage with the campaign and the brand, much of which is vaguely interesting but its a bit of a gush of stuff. everything from Banksy street art in Shoreditch to using mobile phones to make a Ka digitally appear in the real world are present. and they all genuinely add up to the campaign 'Find It' idea.
the question I have is why? aside from engaging further in the campaign, what's the reward for taking part? a huge amount of effort has clearly gone into creating a great ad (= broadcast & amplify the campaign idea) and website (= access & digital engagement), but not a lot of effort – it would seem – has gone into incentive.
you could argue that the website being difficult to find is reward in itself, but its a bit of a push. no, it seems Ford, like a lot of campaigns, are assuming that engaging with the campaign is reward enough. it's a busy and cluttered world out there. time is short and attention precious. planners should be asking themselves hard questions about what they are giving consumers back. what's the quid pro quo for their time and attention.
would have been great to have seen some Kas hidden either around the country or in the digital space. how much fun could it have been to make the campaign idea tangible by physically being able to find and take home a Ka? this could also have provided the link between the TV ad and the digital experience… the first person to locate all 80 Kas wins a real one?
the question for planners is clear… what incentive are you planning into your campaigns? what's the reward – above and beyond engaging in your brand's idea – for someone's time and attention; it may not come as cheaply as you may think.
I learned three things in a jump into central London yesterday. one, that Uniqlo doesn't do gloves. two, that the recession has yet to hit Abercrombie & Fitch, the till queue for which was a good twenty-punters long. and three, that National Geographic have opened a rather amazing store on Regent Street.
National Geographic are not the first (and they won't be the last) media organisation to open a branded retail space, but they're certainly in line to be the one that opened the grandest. its 20,000 sq ft across three floors sells everything from bug spray to the latest technology in exploration gear, but that is just the start.
the store also aims to provide an absorbing learning experience through interactive visual displays as well as an auditorium to host film
screenings and public lectures. it's an amazing space, and one that will go towards funding the Society's aims, as copy in the store explains:
"when you buy at the National Geographic Store, you're helping launch new expeditions across the world. thanks to your help, projects we've helped fund have uncovered the Inca city of Machu Picchu and the wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic. today the Society supports more than 500 expeditions and research projects a year"(source: poster in National Geographic Store)
it is certainly opening in interesting times; as an article in Retail Week observes, the store is likely to be the last major opening Regent Street (and indeed London) will see in a while: "Retail pundits will tell you that Regent Street is a thoroughfare
filled with brand flagships where having a presence is rather more
important than making money. This may be so, but in recessionary times
the tendency to let the eye stray towards the bottom line is more
tempting than last year."
which is a shame, because it's exactly this kind of initiative, exactly this kind of engaging brand innovation, that is most likely to future-proof a brand. as a focus for PR efforts, as a destination, and as a source for new news and sparks for word of mouth, the National Geographic Store is everything an interactive and engaging brand experience should be…
…an experience grounded not in the necessity to sell, but in the discovery and exploration of why that brand pertains to exist in the first place, and what that brand's point of view on the world is; the concept and idea of that brand made manifest. everything, in short, that a retail space in the early 21st Century should be.
there's something uniquely powerful about being at an event. being able to say "I was there", "I saw it happen". events don't come much bigger than what happened yesterday when the USA got its 44th President. such was the interest in the event that much of the UK broadcast schedules for the day were turned over to rolling coverage of the inauguration.
but if passively watching the event wasn't enough, CNN and Facebook allowed citizens from all over the world to get a bit closer to the action. the two brands teamed up and co-sponsored a
live video stream of the inauguration on a co-branded microsite. everyone who signed up to the Obama Inauguration Facebook page and changed their status were displayed on this microsite in real time for everyone to see.
what made this so powerful was the combination of the (CNN) broadcast stream in combination with the (Facebook) status frame on the right hand side of the page which automatically
updated the many and varied status updates from those around the world watching on.
a gloriously powerful meeting of mainstream and social media, with each making the other more powerful. mainstream giving a sense of collective action – and arguably belonging – to the social space, with social media bringing a human, personal and individual presence to the broadcast space.
can we watch the event as though we were there? well thanks to CNN and Facebook, yes, we can.