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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advertising, branding, commenting, content creating, marketing, planning

From ZERO to Hero: its Joseph Jaffe versus the world as he shares his theory on surviving the Mediocalypse

“In a perfect world, the optimal paid media would be zero”

and there you have it. in sixteen short syllables Joseph Jaffe yesterday laid the gauntlet to, well, everyone.

in a Mumbrella Hangout with Tim and Nick, Jaffe took aim and didn’t hesitate in pulling the trigger as he took on the concept of paid media, it’s media agency proponents, media owner benefactors and client conspirators – all of whom are collectively woefully unprepared for the coming mediocalypse (that last word is totes all mine fyi).

Jaffe’s alternative vision is ZERO – a word that serves the dual purpose of being, in Jaffe’s opinion, the target investment a brand should make in paid media … and also an acronym for the elements that make up Jaffe’s counter theory … Zealots, Entrepreneurship, Retention and Owned assets (not media).

to say all this is brand new territory would be a stretch, but to say that it’s rarely been delivered with such zeal is not. Jaffe gleefully takes on Sorrell (“self-serving”), media owners (“complacency and mediocrity are not causes to be able to keep your job. being also to achieve … objectives and demonstrate proven value-add and utility and return on investment is a cause to keep your job”) and clients (“morons”). by the time Clive Burcham of The Conscience Organisation joins the conversation the platform is well and truly burning and we may as well all just run for the hills.

it’s easy to line up against Jaffe’s argument and theory: Ehrenberg Bass’ analysis would tackle the importance of Zealots, Entrepreneurship doesn’t offer the guarantee of exposure, success and ultimately growth that shareholders demand of businesses; on ‘Retention is the new Acquisition’ you can pick your counter-play, and there’s no client worth their salt that hasn’t developed and deployed an Owned asset strategy and plan. but here’s the thing … Jaffe is right.

the 30 second-shaped solution is to predominant. the ad venture is coming to an end. agencies and clients aren’t co-conspiring to create sufficient entrepreneurship and innovation. media is commoditised, and media thinking is undervalued. clients customers have become more important than their consumers, and despite billions of dollars of effort the scarcest commodity in the world remains human attention.

run for the hills indeed.

but despite Jaffe’s verging into hubris, he offers some wonderfully salient and sensible advice. his assertion that “the vision of ZERO is to move from being a tenant to a landlord” is a nicely articulated vision for how brands should increasingly approach their media planning; the idea of a “customer-employee ecosystem empowered by technology” makes total sense; that we should be advising our clients on how to redress the balance of their direct to indirect (media) investment is absolutely right; and to ask “why are we paying for attention, when we should be paying attention” is good enough to put on the t-shirt (should that be your inclination).

whatever side of the debate you’re on, you can’t deny that our negotiation of media’s future is the better for having Jaffe’s voice in the chorus. there will be heroes and outlaws aplenty in the coming mediocalypse, which one Jaffe turns out to be will be decided first by your perspective, and then by history.

PS if you want to skip to a couple of highlights in the above video jump to 13:17 to hear Tim deploy Nick to search for someone who has tattooed toilet paper onto themselves with the immortal words “Nick, to the Google …” or 13:44 to see’s Tim‘s earnest nodding and eyebrow raise at the news of Charmin’s acquisition of website ‘sit or squat’

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broadcasting, planning, social media-ising, television, viewing

Welcome to Our World: What TV Execs and schedulers have to learn from Media Planners

the-shire-2

so a very good friend of mine would spend his time as a child working out which TV shows should go before and after which other shows. he essentially played scheduling. he was therefore somewhat destined to grow up to be a media planner (he is now the head of planning at a creative agency, but my point stands).

media planners get to play the most awesome game of scheduling in the world … we get to play with who see’s what, where, when, and in which context they see it – and that’s just for starters.

at first it was planned interruption, but now – depending on your situation and or point of view – we plan content / engagement / context / connections … the point is that we have to decide with no small amount of consideration how we plan media and content … and weirdly that is something that TV schedulers are only getting their heads around.

this thought was prompted by a piece by Mark Lawson writing in The Guardian about two recent revelations by Shane Allen, BBC controller of comedy commissioning, to the UK’s Broadcasting Press Guild. one, that Ben Elton’s heavily-panned series The Wright Stuff will not be recommissioned and, much more interestingly, that Peter Kay’s new series will premiere on the BBC’s iPlayer – a platform originally conceived as a catch-up service.

why the online platform play? in the article Lawson observes that “Kay admits he was nervous, fearful of heavy backlash had the BBC unveiled his new show with extended hype” … this is Peter Kay we’re taking about, the creator of the sublime Phoenix Nights, running scared. of social media.

the problem is that social media, especially Twitter, gives such immediate and public feedback that opinions can move and upscale with such speed that public-opinion has moved against a show before the first episode has even aired. but shows sometimes need breathing space to develop (I give you Blackadder as exhibit A) but now there’s just no time.

PHD talked about this in Fluid, one of the books what we wrote. a local example is what happened with the Shire (I knew you were wondering about the pic) … in the crucible of Twitter it was judged and hung out to dry before it had even begun.

now I’m not defending The Shire, but as Lawson observes:

“The question of how best to launch – or, as executives like to say, “get away” – a TV show has become a huge debate now that there are so many ways of watching. It’s the reason drama executives lurch nervously between stripping (running a series on consecutive nights, such as next week’s Run on Channel 4) and playing episodes once a week, such as ITV’s Broadchurch.” (source)

the point is that, all of a sudden, TV schedulers face the same problems, challenges and opportunities that media planners have enjoyed for decades: choosing platform, designing context, sowing seeds or landing large, on-demand or broadcast big, all together or spaced out, OTS calculations, reach builds … the art of programme scheduling is about to be transformed.

welcome to our world TV execs, you’re in for a treat.

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advertising, campaigning, commenting, creating, debating, planning

Create and Debate: Lessons for brands, courtesy of Dikkenberg and Rusbridger, on communicating credibly, conspicuously and contagiously

I had a rather delightful serendipitous few minutes yesterday when I watched consecutively two videos on YouTube. it occurred to me that between them they rather elegantly describe the formula for communicating your position or point of view in the world right now.

the first was the above video of a speech given by Who&Why Media‘s founder Simon Dikkenberg at the 20th anniversary of Mission Australia’s CYI. Simon (who is awesome) captured more elegantly than I would the point and power of unleasing a creative instinct:

“By becoming conscious of our stories and our ability to shape then, we learn that we can edit and redefine the great changes that impact our lives … what’s exciting is that we now live in era in which the tools to record and share our stories are cheap and easily accessible (most of us carry them on the phones in our pockets) … we all have our own battles and wars but it is the stories we tell ourselves about them that determine the positive or negative impact they have on our lives …”

Simon Dikkenberg (from the above video)

I next watched this video from The Guardian of Editor Alan Rusbridger describing the newspaper’s ‘Open Journalism’ philosophy.

it’s simple, straightforward, and elegant … yet it describes profound changes to how a newspaper goes about doing what it does. changes that by Rusbridger’s own admission are a “big barrier for journalists to get over”.

“Open journalism is about allowing a response … saying to readers ‘we want to hear from you’ … if you can have more than one view you get a better account … once you accept that then you’re into just the questions of the mechanics … we should be able to respond to them too … its being responsive to what comes into the building …
Its no good shoving a newspaper on the web, you have to be part of the web … as a result I think our journalism is much more approachable, much more diverse, much more comprehensive, much more challenge-able (which is a good thing), and just generally better.”

Alan Rusbridger (from the above video)

that second paragraph is of particular relevance and significance to comms planning – swap ‘journalism’ for brand and you get the following advice: ‘its no good shoving a brand on the web, you have to be part of the web … as a result I think [your] brand is much more approachable, much more diverse, much more comprehensive, much more challenge-able … and just generally better’.

I can think of little better advice I’ve ever heard being suggested for brands as they plan in an online, on-demand, fragmented and attention-light world.

perhaps what strikes me most is how the Dikkenberg Rusbridger formula of Create + Debate is so very rarely applied. brands of course create, but very rarely for the specific purpose of instigating debate. and of course brands debate, but often as a response to events or about their products as opposed to the communicates they create around a point of view.

yet when brands do embrace this simple formula, the results are often hugely successful – at the very least from a communications point of view. here are just a few of my favourites:

all these examples are awesome campaigns because they are credible, conspicuous and inherently contagious. and they are all those things, I think, because they followed the Dikkenberg Rusbridger formula: create the stories of your battles and debate with the plurality of views they engender.

the possibilities are staggering, as is the potential positive affect those stories could have on us all.

featured image via here and here

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advertising, content creating, planning, rewarding

Why Lost is the New Found: How Heineken and Jeep are inviting us to get lost in very different ways

Heineken’s Voyage Ad, currently playing on a cinema screen near you

so last night I enjoyed a cheeky Sunday night trip to the cinema with Connerty, Jez and Fingers to see Brad take on the zombie apocalypse – which you’ll be happy to hear he did magnificently. before the action started however the above effort for Heineken played out. its a great ad – if slightly indulgent (btw if you think the 60″ is indulgent check out the ‘exclusive version’).

all of which is all very well and indulgent, and good on Heineken for the effort … but at the end there’s a blink-and-you-miss-it call to action directing you to www.heineken.com/voyage alongside the copy ‘legendary travelers wanted’. so having literally been called to action and after a few seconds of digging today I tracked down – via said website – another website entirely … a branded YouTube channel in fact, called Heineken Dropped:

heineken_dropped_youtube

… a content-generating, exclusive-experiencing, PR-generating platform of a thing in which guys (the site is quite clear on this aspect) are ‘dropped’ in the middle of nowhere.

adventure, of course, ensues – as evidenced by the trailer for episode one

and then in one of those frequent ‘wait for a bus’ moments I was catching up with the awesome James’ Media in Brief document from Friday (Volume 2, Issue 18 to be precise), the video of the week in which was only this little effort for Jeep by Leo Burnett Buenos Aires:

so within 24 hours a beer and a car brand both inviting me, in two very different ways, to get lost. Heineken through a competition to experience an exclusive adventure in the middle of nowhere and Jeep through a GPS that takes me on my very own individual trip to, well, the middle of nowhere.

what’s interesting (to Mediation at least) is how one territory can be explored through two very different and contrasting media models. one exclusive, the other open to anyone (presumably with a GPS and a four wheel drive) … one fulfilled through content and the other through technology … one in which nowhere is idealised and the other in which nowhere is radically accessible … and one which operates at the head of Anderson’s Long Tail and the other which thrives in the tail.

in a post far back in the mists of time (July 2009 specifically) I described the need to think about audiences with a new lore of averages.

“when we describe target audiences we should be thinking of them as sitting along the above spectrum.  how do we plan on one hand for the very few but valuable super-attention givers from whom a lot of the effectiveness of the media investment will derive?  whilst on the other hand plan for the ‘mode’ individuals, the vast majority who will contribute the smallest amount of attention to what we have to say?”

what’s interesting is how these two platforms operate exclusively against each: Heineken creating content to be distributed to the passive massive along the tail, Jeep inviting individuals to experience nowhere for themselves. neither is, I suppose, more right than the other … but I can’t help but wonder what they have to learn from each other?

how could Heineken enable more participation in their Dropped platform, and how could Jeep amplify the individual experiences of finding nowhere to maximise reach of their investment? after that I suppose that there’s only one question … how would you prefer to get lost?

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branding, managing, planning, understanding

Culture Clash: Why brand planning in Asia requires a rethinking of the Western Mindset

James_Parsons_flamingo

so I had the awesome pleasure yesterday of joining an OMG (that’s Omnicom Media Group – although you can sometimes forgive any mix up 😉 – Thought Bubbles session organised by the awesome Guy Hearn, Mark Gray and Shel Vei in Singapore.

the subject was The Myth of the Brand in Asia – a talk given by James Parsons (above) who is the Managing Director (Asia) of Flamingo.

James’ point wasn’t that the idea of a brand is a myth in Asia – rather that the idea of a brand in Asia is very different from the western way of thinking about brands … and that this has implications for brands and specifically brand planning.

James cited a Richard Nisbitt’s ‘The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why’, which I had never come across but which looks fascinating. the following is from the title’s Google books summary:

“When psychologist Richard E. Nisbett showed an animated underwater scene to his American students, they zeroed in on a big fish swimming among smaller fish. Japanese subjects, on the other hand, made observations about the background environment — and the different “seeings” are a clue to profound underlying cognitive differences between Westerners and East Asians.
For, as Professor Nisbett shows in The Geography of Thought, people actually think about — and even see — the world differently because of differing ecologies, social structures, philosophies, and educational systems that date back to ancient Greece and China and that have survived into the modern world.
As a result, East Asian thought is “holistic” — drawn to the perceptual field as a whole and to relations among objects and events within that field. By comparison to Western modes of reasoning, East Asian thought relies far less on categories or on formal logic; it is fundamentally dialectic, seeking a ‘middle way’ between opposing thoughts. By contrast, Westerners focus on salient objects or people, use attributes to assign them to categories, and apply rules of formal logic to understand their behavior.”

source: Google books

James’ observation was that understanding this difference has significant implications for how brands are planned for Asia. the conceptual approach traditionally adopted by western philosophy – that of the brand onion / pyramid / diamond etc, is less relevant for Asia, where things are thought of and described not as abstract, but in more tangible terms.

James’ two principal implications are that in Asia (1) context trumps content and (2) brands grow by doing not saying. he’ll get no argument from Mediation on that front.

in fact if that is the case I think you could argue that in many ways the West is catching up with the East in this regard. that brands are now defined and judged based on what they do not what they say is I hope accepted wisdom across most of the planning community (you could be generous and say not just judged by what they say but IMHO that’s a generosity too far).

its in the area of context versus content planning however where it gets very interesting. some agencies have played with the idea of context planning; a quick search on LinkedIn demonstrates that Naked here in Australia aren’t alone in job titling around the role of the context planner.

the examples discussed yesterday included exhaustive NPD and product extensions – the creation of context through new and next and tangible must have’s etc … the start of some thinking on this … will see where we go from here.

to request a copy of James’ paper, ‘The Myth of the Brand in Asia’ contact joot.teo@flamingogroup.com

featured image via Flamingo Group

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advertising, marketing, planning

Coles 1, Woolies 0: an abject lesson in new versus traditional media thinking from Australia’s favourite oligopoly

option A: partner with a major TV network to secure access to the biggest pop group in the world and give customers the chance to win tickets to an exclusive extra show. communicate this through the competition’s own dedicated website, hashtag, and social media, supported by print, broadcast and PR.

option B: make a 90 second TV ad that talks about, well, I’m not sure exactly … but I think, the value of time?

it may be harsh to call this an abject lesson in new versus traditional media thinking, but this really is an abject lesson in new versus traditional media thinking. and just in case anyone is looking for a (far from exhaustive) checklist, here it is:

  • create new news (don’t assume people care)
  • integrated the channel approach (not single broadcast solution)
  • create exclusivity and scarcity
  • do don’t say
  • leverage a passion point
  • develop a plan and strategy for earned media
  • integrate into store
  • connect to product purchase

here are the boys again … just for fun.

featured image source: Coles via Mumbrella

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branding, conferencing, planning, publishing

Think Service not Content: What brands can take from Jeff Jarvis’ awesome advice to the newspaper industry

jeff_jarvis

featured image via the Guardian.co.uk | above image via wikimedia

so a couple of weeks ago was the 65th World Newspaper Congress in Bangkok (I know, me neither), the debate at which would have entirely passed me by had it not been for mediaweek.com.au’s handy reporting of the event which landed on my desk yesterday.

on page 9 I was very happy to see a write-up of the awesome Jeff Jarvis (above) who gave a talk at the congress entitled ‘New relationships, forms, & business models for news’. now mediation is quite the fan of the Jarvis and this is a subject Jeff knows more than a bit about – as well as working at the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism  and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, he has an awesome blog at BuzzMachine which you should check out immediately … after reading this post.

what Jarvis tackled, with typical energy, was the idea that newspapers were not in the content business but rather the service industry. this must have come as a bit of an annoyance to publishers who had just gotten their head around the idea that they weren’t in the newspaper printing business but rather the content business. change, as the IPA 7th Social principal states, will truly never be this slow again.

Jarvis’ argument is simple:

“[being in the content business] leads us to say that our content has value and that people should pay for it. it leads to our structures of our news organisations and how they are made … content will be one of the things we will always do. but it is only one of the things … our primary job is to begin to look at news as a service … it changes the relationship we have with the public.”

he goes on to argue that this fundamentally moves the industry from a broadcast to one-to-one medium:

“this enables us to serve people as individuals instead of mass … online it is possible to serve people as individuals … I argue we should actually be in the relationship business. we should be about crating and managing and finding value in relationships with people.”

and furthermore, the relationships formed with the people newspapers reach aren’t passive:

“… many people will become our collaborators. our readers, most importantly, become our collaborators. other news organisations become our collaborators … this leads to a rule that I like to have for newspapers – do what you do best and link to the rest.”

all the above quotes Jeff Jarvis, via mediaweek.com.au

its classic and wonderful Jarvis – clear, compelling and challenging. but its also advice that shouldn’t just apply to newspapers. reread the above but replace newspapers with brands … the themes of (1) thinking service and value not (just) content, (2) serving individuals not masses (3) collaborating with customers and, perhaps most importantly, (4) sticking to what you do best and linking to the rest … is valuable and timely advice for anyone working with and growing brands right now.

brands, like newspapers, are just getting their collective heads around the idea of content creation and distribution as a ongoing and necessary staple of their marketing efforts. whilst of course some (RedBull, GoPro etc) are miles ahead, too often we (and when I say we, I mean I) see brands tackle content from a broadcast mentality. this (1) makes it very expensive, (2) pushes timelines into years rather then months territory and (3) puts a lot of marketing collateral eggs into one basket.

… its a bit like brands approaching content the way a newspaper would approach investigative journalism. lots of effort with a high risk of little return should the story not be there or pan-out the way you thought. Jarvis argues for a much for future-facing and focused approach … one that involves thinking about what you don’t do as much as what you do. and one that demands that we think of people as interactive individuals not passively massive groups.

thanks Jeff … keep doing what you do … you rock.

also a big shout out to PHD’s (well OMG’s) Andreas Vogiatzakis who presented our very own 2016 at the same event. awesome stuff.

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adserving, applicationing, innovating, listening, phdcast, planning, programmatic buying

PHDcast 31.05.13: Programmatic Buying, How Superman Shaves and Tumblr

PHDcast for Mediation 470lots of fun on the PHDcast last week as Stew and Nic and I were joined by some awesome people from PHD Australia’s team digital. Peter Hunter and Lauren Oldham joined us to talk everything from programmatic buying to Gillette’s YouTubey Man Of Steel activation.

first up, programmatic buying. B&T quotes eMarketer who suggest that: “more than a quarter of all display-ad spending in the U.S. will occur via real-time auctions by 2016. Spending is predicted to increase from US$1.9bn in 2012 to more than US$7bn to make up 28% of total display-ad buying by the end of that year.”

great debate from the team, the main upshot of which was that programmatic buying will soon be how we predominantly buy ‘traditional’ online, with content moving even further up the online food chain, becoming of fundamental importance as online real-estate for brands.

a key implication is that it allows the conversations we have with our media owner partners to move on and focus on what, arguably, is the core point of those relationships – ideas, collaboration and creative use of media.

the other main implication is for those big traditional (broadcast) media owners who, as they mediate the future of their own media platforms, will see PB encroach on how they trade with agencies. whilst some broadcasters are already experimenting with DSP technology, its something that is unlikely to happen overnight. inertia aside, I genuinely believe that as revenues fragment across different channels, making PB work will become a strategic imperative, rather than an interesting inconvenience to broadcasters.

also this week, Gillette are exploring how exactly Superman shaves? a great activation on the brands’ YouTube channel has geeky celebrities proposing how they think the Man Of Steel shaves. awesome activation – will be even more so if the team involved find a way to amplify the content into broadcast.

gillette how does he shave

also this week an awesome app from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that allows you to use their data to explore the opinions and attitudes of people in your (or any) suburb and town across the nation.

oh, and that US$1.1bn purchase by Yahoo! of Tumblr. The Hunter observes that, when looked at from a data perspective, Yahoo! have essentially paid $4 each for the records of 300,000,000 active users – which makes it quite the bargain. whether it’s enough for the somewhat ailing Yahoo! remains to be seen.

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advertising, innovating, planning, social media-ising, user-generating

When Dove met Facebook: and the illusion of a schedule that controls what people consume

Dove’s ‘The Ad Makeover’ campaign allows women to replace ads promoing low self esteem with something a little more positive

John Hammond: You’re right, you’re absolutely right. Hiring Nedry was a mistake, that’s obvious. We’re over-dependent on automation, I can see that now. Now, the next time everything’s correctable. Creation is an act of sheer will. Next time it’ll be flawless.

Ellie Sattler: It’s still the flea circus. It’s all an illusion.

John Hammond: When we have control again –

Ellie Sattler: You never had control! That’s the illusion!

From Jurassic park (1993)

a rather interesting debate is being had over a rather innovative campaign from Dove in Australia. playing out across the fine pages of B&T is a discussion about the relative merits of a campaign that allows women to replace ads that encourage low self-esteem (shut up, we’ve all seen them) with one of eight encouraging messages, which you can share across and beyond your personal networks.

the bit that’s causing the debate is that you can select facebook keywords that you feel describe other women who you think should see the ad that you have selected. You and Dove making-over Facebook one demoralising ad at a time, but in doing so you replace – presumably – ads that would have otherwise been there.

so, obvs, this is really smart thinking.  on message for the campaign and for the brand – with innovative and relevant use of the Facebook advertising platform that empowers people to engage with a brand thru media on their terms. fans all round then? no so much …

Nick Keenan, department head of implementation planning and investment at MediaCom has commented that “It’s very innovative but I think it serves Facebook and not the advertiser … at the end of the day I’m not sure what kind of surety it gives to other advertisers that are doing things with Facebook.”

this most awesome use of the word ‘surety’ kicks off a real battle between Keenan and chief executive of media agency Fusion Strategy, Steve Allen

Allen: “that’s “phooey … this is the new today … the new era for advertising and the internet is the first line of that.”

Keenan counters that “that’s completely naïve … how do you plan a schedule for that?”

back to Allen: “it’s like serving up Porsche ads to people in wheelchairs, it does more damage than good”

even Mamamia.com.au‘s Freedman chips in: “The idea of empowering women to create their own advertising landscape is a disruptive one and that always translates to the kind of cut-through required when talking to women in a very crowded market.”

as entertaining as all of this is (and it is), it reminds me of one of the key reasons that I started and continue to write this blog. we live and work between two worlds; our media past and our media future. the debate being played out is between stalwarts of those two worlds, as the language used suggests.

Keenan is arguing that people’s actions will disrupt bought media impacts. like leaving the room in an ad break to make a cup of tea, or turning attention down to the tablet when the ads come on?

Allen argues that people know what brands they know and only want communications from those brands (“you are better off allowing consumers to select what they want, rather than to try and force them into things. Your impact is going to be much more valuable if they are people that want to know about your kind of product or brand. They are going to be receptive to it”) … which one could argue, and I would, leads to a rather myopic experience of brands and media.

for my twopenneth, its a debate about control, and the illusion that we ever had it.

media schedules are amazing things. I really mean that. to an experienced practitioner a brilliant schedule can sing. it can tell stories and decribe audiences and ideas and phases and roles of media. it can articulate behaviours and pinpoint the most intricate nuances of what a planner is seeking to achieve.

but a schedule can never control what people consume. that, to paraphrase Ellie Sattler, is the illusion. a schedule may be the sheet music but it needs people to play it. this is the illusion that we have, or indeed ever had, control.

that illusion is the great trap of applying 20th Century media planning in a 21st Century media landscape. Facebook isn’t like TV, and within a few years TV won’t be like TV either. the rules may not have changed as radically as Allen suggests, but they have changed.

we’re all of us fighting a war for attention, kudos to Dove for developing such a smart weapon for getting it.

all quotes from ‘Ad industry in flap over new Dove app article’ on B&T

disclamer: I don’t work for Unilever or Dove but I did pitch for their business last year and enjoyed the process very much

 

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