broadcasting, measuring, phdcast, television

Surviving the Crucible: Why We All Need to Calm Down, Back Off, and GIve Wake Up A Fair Go

in the latest PHDcast Nic, Stew, Zee (we’re still experimenting with the nickname – bear with us) and I talk Melbourne Cup brand activations Twitter’s flotation, the point of branded urls, strategy job titles … and the first week of Ten’s new breakfast show – which it’s fair to say has been watched very closely … by Adnews, B&T, and via a Mumbrella ratings game and by an article or two in the SMH.


the context into which Wake Up was born has been unfairly hostile, unduly challenging and way too immediately judgmental. to say that both Wake Up (and Studio 10 which follows it) launched into a crucible is perhaps an understatement, a crucible with multiple drivers:

one, the Ten financial pressure

Wake Up has been given birth by a parent with, it’s fair to say, some financial challenges. last month Network Ten reported a $285m loss and calls for $200m loan over four years to rebuild the product. TV is a cyclical game and networks will at some times be stronger than at others – but there’s no doubt the pressure is on.

two, the predecessor

launched in February 2012, Wake Up’s predecessor was Breakfast fronted by Kiwi Paul Henry, Kathryn Robinson, Andrew Rochford and Magdalena Roze.


Breakfast was axed in November of the same year after the show failed to steal ratings share from Seven and Nine. the show also came in for particular criticism of Paul Henry, who I always liked … he was, it always seemed to me deliberately divisive, callous and radically honest – which if you were in on the joke was actually rather entertaining.

whichever way you took Paul Henry, the debate and fate of Wake Up’s predecessor casts a considerable shadow over it’s launch. but in many ways the challenge that Henry in particular was tasked with addressing is the same one that Wake Up faces, that of being different …

the need to be breaking (bad) conventions

because Wake Up is also dealing with the clear and present need to challenge, break and redefine the conventions of morning TV. the opportunity isn’t to be an also-run breakfast show; another desk with other bright shiny people giving away other prize money to viewers just for being conscious and chatting about the latest political non-announcement. rather the opportunity is to create a genuinely different and distinctive morning TV offering … advertisers absolutely want it and there’s no reason to think that viewers don’t want it too.

in many ways I think this a crystallization of Ten’s current predicament: they need to be different enough to create reasons for viewers and advertisers to go with the smallest mainstream offering, but they need to stay mainstream enough to attract the largest possible (monetise-able) audience.

it’s a fine line to tread and its going to take time. time that the industry, with predictable scorning cynical superiority, isn’t looking to give the show and it’s team. it’s disheartening; as Nicola comments in the PHDcast, “I’m really disappointed, again, in the expected critique.  people wanted it to fail … its a week old”.

the truth is that you could have written last week’s commentary six months ago. it was that predictable. time now to step back and give the show and it’s team the time and space they need to craft a third way for commercial breakfast TV in Australia. viewers and advertisers alike need it, it’s our choice whether or not we give Wake Up the opportunity to survive its crucible.

enjoy the PHDcast … here’s team strategy PHDcasters enjoying an awesome afternoon at Melbourne Cup. it is after all the podcast that stops a nation …

PHDcast at the races

broadcasting, debating, measuring, phdcast, social media-ising

PHDcast 28.06.13: Elections, Twitter, Hildebrand joins Ten’s Breakfast Show, hello EMMA, and Smelling the Coffeee

player not working? click here to listen via audioboo

another Friday (almost) means another PHDcast from PHD Australia

in the week that saw Australia wake up with a new Prime Minister, we talk about the social / broadcast media interaction that played out on Wednesday night. how could and should broadcast media keep pace with fast-moving events as the play out on twitter? and what is the role for brands in events like this?

there are also implications for media investment on TV and other channels, with airtime around the election becoming scarce. I spoke with our own Maree Cullum to get her advice for clients on how to help their campaigns weather the election storm.


above pic via

also this week Channel Ten announced that Joe Hildebrand is joining the line up for Adam Boland’s new morning show on the channel. we talk about the challenge and opportunity for Ten’s new morning show, and the context and situation for breakfast television in general.

if that wasn’t enough, we get into the ‘can / should media owners produce ads for clients?’, the Readership Works introduces us to Emma – the name of their soon to be launched readership survey, and evaluate the plan to pump the smell of coffee into cinemas for Nescafe Blend 43.

Stew wrote an article for B&T which you can read here – props to Stew for that and for getting olfactory signifyers into the PHDcast conversation …

here are the glasses-tastic Toby, Nic and Chris – your podcast team today with the exception of Stew, who missed the photo opp and Maree who’s Melbs – that’s it … catcha next week for more PHDcast

PHDcast pic 28.06.13

measuring, planning, predicting

Letting a little chaos in: Could understanding unpredictability make us better planners?

(featured image Source)

so as a bit of a Chrimbo pressie I took up a year’s subscription to the BBC’s iPlayer offering on iPad.  one of the first things that I got my teeth into was a documentary from a couple of years ago on BBC4 about the mathematics of chaos. a particular passage in the above clip, struck me as of particular interest to those of us attending to an ongoing mission of negotiating – of mediating – the future of media and communications.

jump to 3m50s and you’ll hear the following passage:

“the turbulence of the 1970’s convinced the economists, as well as the environmentalists, that their faith in large scale prediction and control was just wrong.  they came to accept that they would no more be able to control the economy than the weather.  the era of command and control was over.  but there was a second more controversial part of the mathematics upon which they fundamentally disagreed.

Ruelle and others had found that even very simple systems … could give rise to highly complex chaotic behaviour; and now as they used these simple systems to explore further, they began to discover the rules of this chaotic world.  they found that the more connected and interlinked systems became, the more likely they were to become chaotic and turbulent, and that the more you pumped the system – the faster you ran it – the more chaotic it would become.”

source: High Anxieties – The Mathematics of Chaos, David Malone, last broadcast BBC4 in 2008

anyone currently planning media and communications can’t fail to observe the parallel: the more connected and interlinked systems become, the more likely they are to become chaotic and turbulent – and the faster you run a system, the more chaotic is becomes…

we enter a new year with a media and comms planning landscape that is arguably less certain than it was last (and I would suggest that this has been the case for at least the last several years). we have fewer certainties, fewer guarantees of success, fewer empirical rules of behaviour that can predict what our investments and strategies will achieve.

it is not for the want of trying.  Ehrenberg et al at the institute that bears his name – for example – have made huge strides in identifying marketing ‘laws’ … for example the double jeopardy law which states that “brands with less marketing share have far fewer buyers, and these buyers are slightly less loyal (in the buying and attitudes)” … or the duplication of purchase law which states that “a brand’s customer base overlaps with rival brands in line with its market share” (source: How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp)

but these rules have more to do with buying behaviour than they have to do with how and to what extent media and communications planning influences that buying behaviour. for every one of Ehrenberg’s laws there are multiple exceptions that – depending on you point of view – prove or disprove the immutability of those laws.

multiple disciplines indicate that we are habitual creatures, more sensitive to (for example) loss aversion than that of advertising. and yet we know that communications which are disproportionately awarded / rewarded have a similarly disproportionate return for the brands that invest in them. communications work, and generally speaking the better the communications the better they work.

generally speaking.

which is of course fine, generally.

but the fact remains that while we can all of us mitigate uncertainty (thorough research and exploration; an aligned strategy; integrated thinking; proportionate and focused investment; identification, tracking and measurement of KPI ecosystems … to name but a few), what we do sometimes seems to be far from an exact science (which is of course part of the attraction)…

but perhaps chaos has not just a key but an increasingly significant role to play. what if we accept that we are no more able to control how media and comms planning affects businesses that we are able to control the weather? … and what if we accept that an increasingly networked and interconnected media landscape increasingly makes this more not less true?

would such acceptance make us better or worse planners? would it compromise planning or make it stronger? could accepting that there is inevitable chaos in the system provide more realistic and reliable margins and predictions of success? if the only thing we can confidently predict is a degree of unpredictability, perhaps confidently facing up to this reality is the only thing that will truly allow us to move on…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

attributing, measuring, tracking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

measuring, printing, publishing, reporting, sampling

Starting the Big Sell: How The Readership Works started the debate with agencies over the future of readership measurement in Australia

The_Readership_Works the start of the debate: representatives of The Readership Works present to media agencies last night at The Mint

so last evening saw the start of what is likely to be a long conversation between the media agency and The Readership Works, the body tasked with creating a new readership survey for Australia's media industry.

we began with a well-trodden story – the world has changed.  only, it turns out, measurement metrics haven't.  the evening was on oportunity for The Readership Works (TRW) to present how they intend to put that right.  we began with the challenges:

  1. people don't fill in surveys any more (in fact it turns out that three quarters of people flat refuse to do so these days)
  2. advertisers need more and better data (yup)
  3. other media are delivering (no doubt last year's MOVE is front and centre of TRW's mind – especially given the gestation period that this project has had)
  4. print media are no longer print media (well quite … in fact I'd question whether or not it's in their interest to still be called print media but that's a debate for another day)

so what do we want and when do we want it?  well we want – it turns out – more higher quality data, delivered in a 'more timely' manner, transparency in how it's delivered and reported.  plus we'd also like it to be future-proofed and developed in collaboration with agencies (and therefore advertisers).

all of which sounds like a lot, but saying "we need to stop doing face-to-face interviews and filling in paper questionnaires" is a bit like saying "let's stop using horse drawn trams to get people around".  similarly the idea that we need to measure readership beyond the printed page is a great deal less surprising than the fact that we don't seem to be currently doing it.

so all headed in the right direction…  a survey that:

  • collects information via a screen-based interview
  • generates new insights on how magazines build readership over time
  • provides better data on regional and community titles via smarter sampling
  • measures readership across all platforms (so print and online for now, but – in response to my question – once critical mass is reached on tablets and phones too)
  • delivers insights beyond readership, be it on sections, engagement, and new lifestyle statements (although I'd recommend that you brace yourself for still being able to tell clients that their readers are leaders not followers)
  • offers richer and deeper information on the purchase and consumption habits of readers via IPSOS' BRANDpuls

all of which, in the warm light of the next day, feels very solid and in the right direction.  it would be easy to be cynical about the whole event, but the reality is that the industry needs a better measurement system than the one we currently have.  one that its reflective of the evolution of publisher brands (ie not print brands) beyond paper, but that also plugs this information into data about what those readers think and buy.

for perhaps not obvious reasons TRW were reluctant to share details of the methodology.  there is after all an elephant in the room.  that elephant is Roy Morgan Research, who have in effect now become the competition to TRW's survey…

this put the audience in the rather curious position of being pitched a product that will inevitably create potential painful change in the market, by a body on which those same agencies have representation.  when you take into account the fact that the introduction of the new survey will require not only the philosophical backing but the financing (in part) by those agencies, you begin to see why last night's event was so important.  the big sell has only just begun…

measuring, reaching

The tyranny of reach; and how Australian Advertisers are in terrible danger of walking straight into its trap

Apples_and_pears apples and pears.  anyone with a suggestion on how to directly compare every form of media that exists is invited to contact the AANA.  suggestions on Middle-East Peace are also welcome.

news – via B&T – at the end of last week that the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) is forming a sub-committee to "bring media to account".  according to the article, the Media Reference Group will be tasked with "creating a tool that can compare all media with an 'apples versus apples' method."

good luck with that.

you can only sympathise with advertisers' frustration…  how do you compare different and diverging media offerings?  the caveats and conditions that you have to put on any calculation make it – to all intents and purposes – impossible; and more – and more rapidly changing – media options only makes this harder over time.

but there's two very related things that are very worrying about the announcement.  the first is the statement – by ANNA boss Scott McClellan – that advertisers are "frustrated with claims from all media that the level of consumption is stable … there are only a limited number of eyeballs.  how can numbers be stable if the number of media is growing?"  hmmm.

second, the example that McClellan uses when he observes that "in terms of TV advertising it used to take six weeks to reach the target audience now that is pushing out to 10 weeks.  for premium inventory there is limited access so we are having to do so over a longer period of time, so rates are going up.  all this is starting to grate."

there.  he said it.  look closely.  "it used to take six weeks to reach the target audience".

ah, reach.  and the tyranny of it.

it links both the key issues that are wrong with last week's statement because (1) the frustration is that it's getting more expensive to reach more of the people more of the time is absolutely true, but there's no counting your way out of it (fragmentation is, unfortunately, a bitch like that) and (2) because reach is no doubt what the group is mistakingly trying to measure.  and that's why the statement fails to understand the apparent contradiction of more media but stable consumption of media.

reach isn't – in the main – falling.  in fact in many ways it's going up.  because we're consuming more media more of the time; whether its watching TV with a laptop in our, well, laps … or glancing at posters with a mobile app in hand.  we're also creating unprecedented levels of media ourselves, but that's off piste right now.  the point is that it is these behaviours that are keeping media reach – in many instances – stable.  reach isn't what's falling, attention is.

and this is what's most worrying about the statement.  the group claims that what AANA "are hoping to achieve is some agreed principles for indicating the criteria on which advertisers will buy going forward."  I hope for their sake that they choose not to base that criteria on reach.  because there's a lot more of it around and therefore a lot more to buy – and be under no illusion, premium access to reach will maintain it's price-tag.

this is the tyranny of reach.  it is, as Admiral Ackbar would say, a trap.  as long as it remains our default method of measurement, our modus enumeri if you like, we will eternally be lamenting our collective inability to stretch fewer resources over more places in more ways.

the problem for advertisers, and indeed for all of us, is that we need to focus our attention on things we can measure that count.  things like engagement, or influence, or sales.  but if we think that comparing and evaluating reach across media is hard let's not even start on any of these.  and no at the back – econometrics doesn't count because it doesn't universally measure all media opportunities; too many a good media has been taken off of a schedule because that particular computer model said no.

the bottom line is that you simply can't compete on reach.

well that's not true… you can.

you just won't win.

blogging, measuring, planning, social networking, targeting, user-generating

Measuring the Groundswell: how Forrester are identifying and quantifying groups and behaviours in the social media space


so I've started reading Groundswell, a book about how social technologies are transforming business, by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li.  some of its early content is a little objectionable, for example "some people were using Twitter in some pretty silly ways … giving hourly updates on what they had for lunch or what meeting they had just entered … that gets pretty insipid after a very short while".

tell that to the kids behind scanwiches – who've created an awesome space which displays cut profiles of globally inspired sandwiches accompanied by simple ingredient captions.  the point is that its not our place to judge.  the world is evolving, and what's a great more important that deciding whats insipid or not is working out how to help brands enter and thrive in a world of social medias.

fortunately then that the authors get beyond this to very usefully classify six groups according to the different activities and applications that people use in the Groundswell; the "social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other; rather that from traditional institutions like corporations".  the classifications are:

  • creators – publish blogs / content, maintain a web page, upload content
  • critics – who react to other content online, postings comments, ratings or reviews or editing wikis
  • collectors – saving URLs and tags or using RSS, collecting and aggregating the internet
  • joiners – participating thru maintaining profiles on social networking sites
  • spectators – who consume what the rest produce
  • inactives – the nonparticipants

all well and good, but  here's the cool bit.  they've created and made public their Social Technographics tool that allows you to profile a group of people based on age, country and sex against these six behaviours.  you can then index them against the general population, allowing you to plan and build social media strategies based on the kinds of behaviour people already demonstrate.  which in Mediation's book is pretty darn cool.

so the profile of 25-34 year only men in the UK looks like this:


with the most predominant behaviours being spectating and joining (66%  and 59% of 25-34 UK men doing those respectively).  but what's interesting is the likelihood of them being collectors, indexing 183 against the all adult population.  the list obsession so loved of the lads mag genre re-invented for the social media space.

does this tell you what your social media strategy should be?  no.  does it help you identify and quantify the predominant behaviours of the people you're trying to target?  yes.  and that's important.  I've sat in two many sessions where the phrase 'we'll get people to create content for us' has been thrown out.  it of course may be the right suggestion, but a little objective rigeur and analysis never hurt anyone.  even if it was about what you had for lunch.

advertising, broadcasting, buying, content creating, converging, measuring, television, viewing

More questions than answers: fighting for the future of digital broadcast in Mediatel’s playground

Mediatel_playground 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.


What Would Google Do? #1: What we can learn from the zero-advertising-investment thought experiment

Jeff-jarvis What Would Google Do?  Jeff Jarvis is the man asking…

what does zero media budget look like?  what if the ambition of every brand was a media investment of nothing?

it's a question posed by Jeff Jarvis (pictured) towards the start of
his marvelous What Would Google Do? – a reverse-engineering of the
brand upon which the fastest growing company in the world is built.  he
observes that:

"For more than a century,  the public face of
companies has been their advertising, slogans, brands and logos.  How
much better it would be if a company's public face were that of its
public, its satisfied customers who are willing to share their
satisfaction, and its employees who have direct relationships with
customers.  Brands are people.

If that's the ideal, then here's the goal: Eliminate advertising
… every time a customer recommends you and your product to a friend
is a time when you don't have to market to that friend.  It is possible
today to think that one good word can spread as far as an ad would."

it may be a deeply unreachable goal for many brands and businesses;
whose products are less differentiated and in which interest in lower
and usage less frequent.  but some interesting and important measurement
principles emerge from the thought experiment…

  • how do you currently measure – and benchmark – not just customer engagement, but customer ownership of your brand?
  • how are you measuring the conversations – in the myriad of forms –
    that those customers are engaged in about your brand's products and
  • how are you benchmarking the value of those conversations against
    not just each other but against other marketing communications
    outputs?  how many TVRs maketh the influential (and not so influential)
    blog post or status update?
  • if, as Jarvis asserts (and I agree), "your customers have always
    owned your brand"; how do you measure, value, and encourage responsible
    ownership of the biggest intangible asset on which your business
  • and above all -  if you're not asking these questions?  who is?