last week Adnews posted the above video from earlier this year in which the CEO of Cummins & Partners Sean Cummins lambasted the egos of agencies as the only thing stopping the grand reunification of media and advertising agencies under one roof. Cummins was rebuffed by both Henry Tajer “There is no going back, there is no return, there is nothing but forward” and Rob Morgan “With all the money media agencies need to spend on planning and buying, no ad agency has the cash or the clients to justify doing the same”.
the return to full-service debate is not only unfounded (there is no going back, silly) but misses the broader point that both Tajer and Morgan make (whilst still managing to disagree) … that, if anything, we’re set to see further diversification rather than consolidation of media agency offerings.
to get an idea of just how far media has moved on – take a look at this little puppy, and make a mental note of when you need to start really concentrating to track exactly what is going on.
OK so anyone with a bit of media know-how can stay on the tracks, but remember this is the Sesame Street version of what’s happening. this is programmatic buying for dummies, simplified so that even a strategist can understand it. just about. programmatic now exists at one extreme end of the spectrum across which media agencies operate – and I don’t think its what Cummins has in mind when he’s making his bid for reunification.
this spectrum across which agencies operate is reflected, I increasingly believe, in a bifurcation that now exists in how people consumer media. conventional wisdom is that media consumption is now a fragmented, disparate and diverse set of behaviours and attitudes that necessitates the need for a host of segmentation and profiling to understand the media footprint for a specific target group.
but I’m increasingly wondering if it isn’t a whole lot more simple … that people sit at one or other end of a spectrum of media consumption – and therefore planning. or, as the rather awesome William Gibson put it: “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed”. the future is here, and it’s distributed exclusively at the programmatic end of the media spectrum.
… the end of the spectrum at which people have now moved so post-broadcast that the very idea of appointment to view is something they associate with house rather than TV viewing. these are the platform-agnostics. the content-demanders. the subscription viewers, like the 325k who watched last nights GOT S4 finale (thanks for the heads up MCM). they are the digital natives who have only ever accessed the internet through apps (not browsers). they are the rampant social mediarites and twitterati, an army of instgrammers who get news from buzzfeed and buzz from newsfeeds.
it’s for these people that content, social and a host of other offerings including – yes – programmatic buying capabilities have been developed and deployed by media agencies. capabilities that will see further diversification not reunification into their ad agency houses of old. for these people the future is already here and they and their smart phones and TVs are reveling in it. do they expect more or brands? no. do brands need to radically adjust their comms strategies to market to them? yes … and that adjustment has barely started.
… we’ll get a glimpse of just how far we yet have to go in a little over three hours when PHD’s Mark Holden introduces Jason Silva to the Cannes stage. the session is designed as a complete paradigm reboot of the mind-set through which we see the (media) world. changes that, in Mark and Jason’s words, will open up boundless possibilities.
so let’s put aside our reunification talk. we’re well past that point of return. we all of us – media and ad agencies alike – are on the same trip to those endless possibilities … the perspectives are different but that’s only to be expected: after all, the future is here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.
you can watch Jason’s Cannes presentation live as it happens right here … enjoy the trip.
featured image – Jason Silva and his ‘come to future’ eyes, via flavorwire.com
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.
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…
we've been warned: Paul Gilding, Naomi Oreskes, Curt Stager discuss acting on Climate change as Sam Mostyn facilitates
so Friday evening was spent at the brilliant Sydney Writers Festival at Sydney's Town Hall. the two sessions, 'who's afraid of Wikileaks?' and the climate-change-themed 'you've been warned' had illuminating things to say on a diversity of subjects but I was particularly struck by what they had to say, explicitly or otherwise, on the subject on media.
a key element in the first session was a specific question posed to the panel on whether Wikileaks is a media organisation or a political organisation. the panel were agreed in the main that Wikileaks is a media organisation… that they exist to aggregate, organise and make available information for distribution.
the panel were of the opinion that Wikileaks is non-political in the sense that what happens as a result of the information they release is up not to Wikileaks but rather to those who consume its content. Wikileaks were, the panel argued, political only in the sense that Assange is a fervent believer in transparency of information, and its ability to hold corrupt organisations and governments to account.
it occured to me that the idea of 'becomng a media organistion' wasn't limited to Wikileaks… the model – of aggregating useful information and then distributing it – is essentially an owned and then earned media combo. and any organisation could adopt it…
The greatest sneaker archiving project is about to begin; Footlocker's SneakerPedia
there are parallels to what Footlocker are doing with the rather glorious Sneakerpedia; aggregate information – with utility – into an owned media space. then use that to stimulate earned media (3,300 Twitter followers and counting) … bought media could come later – amplifying Sneakerpedia's greatest hits or rarest items in print ads, or short form sneaker documentary content on TV, but it doesn't necessarily have to. Sneakerpedia, like Wikipedia, is an owned and earned media combo – and that's all it has to be: the mechanics of media now not only permit that but in many ways favour it…
because bought media is developing a serious credibilty issue. the rise of owned media and emergence of tangible earned media has put bought media – as exemplified by the ad – into the spotlight, and the glare seems to be hurting it…
in the second session of the writers festival, a wonderful panel consisting of Paul Gilding, Naomi Oreskes, Curt Stager, Sam Mostyn discussed the hard choices we have to make now to preserve our planet. Oreskes described how the climate change movement had been undermined (like the anti-smoking lobby before it) by an argument of credible doubt. the proponents had used bought media to amplify their message to a broad audience.
Oreskes was asked why the pro-climate camp hadn't adopted the same tactics? her response was stark: "advertising exists to sell people things they don't need, scientists reject that [advertising] can be used to sell climate solutions" … the message is clear, bought media lacks the credibility of owned and earned.
this should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with our industry – the reality is that we have shouted our messages to people for over half a century. we have created as a result several generations of ambivalence towards our branded messaging, the result of which is now not only passive resilience from audiences, but outright rejection of not only the message but the media delivery channels themselves…
this point is important. Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham noted in his RTS speech this week that according to Channel 4 research, "about two-thirds of all 'TV audiovisual content' viewing time – across TV, PC and mobile – will be 'tracked intelligently' in some way by 2020"… our working assumption should be that such tracking will only be able to be utilised if people permit us to use it. if they are similarly minded to Oreskes, that may set up a tricky negotiation between our industry and our audiences.
created by Michell Zappa, and sent to me by the awesome Mimi-ness of things, this speculative but intriguing visualisation of how technological developments could pan out presents an interesting question and exercise for brands and connections planning. how would you connect to people, given technological developments over the next year? what about in four years time?
perhaps a lot more social media, a bit less print? perhaps you'll have more sophisticated CRM management and real-time insight capture via social networks. so largely the same, but different.
the future may be more different than you currently imagine. Zappa's map suggests that within the next four years the following will be mainstream. not industry buzzed, geek adopted, first mover technologies. mainstream…
Social Graph, Tabs & Pads, and Multitouch. so far so Zuckerberg and Jobs. but what if you go a little further..? 3D printing, Linked data, Gesture and Speech Recognition, and Electronic Paper. within four years. this kind of technology – if adopted by the mainstream – would transform the retail environment. it would radically alter the opportunities we have to engage and interact with the conversations brands offer us.
it suggests a useful exercise. create a brand platform (I originally typed 'plan a brand campaign' but let's not go there right now) in 2015. imagine these technologies being on every high-street and in every home. how would it change what you create? what would be possible? what would you imagine for a world that could 3D print your product in their home? or interact with your communications by talking or gesturing to them?
then translate your ideas to right now… what could – at a stretch – be done in the next three months? what you do next is easy. you go do it.
yesterday saw the first day of Sydney's first Circus – a festival of commercial creativity for the advertising, media and communications industries. and a rather cracking event it was too. a series of speakers took us through what creativity was to them, how it was under threat, how it is thriving and how a changing world places ever incresing demands on those to work to use creativity to commercial ends.
despite starting rather dubiously – we were invited not to tweet, and to only ask questions if we thought that they'd be relevant for everyone (not the most encouraging of starts for a festival aiming to – in part – explore an evolving communications landscape) – it turned out to be a rather inspirational day…
this was how the first session of day one went down…
first up was Jeffrey Cole who eleven years ago founded the Centre for Digital Future at USC. his talk was on surveying the digital future – and in particular the impact of the Internet on our behaviours.
he introduced himself as a TV guy, and observed that we 'blew' TV – in that we knew it was going to be a mass medium, but didn't track audiences to see how it was changing their lives. important questions like where did the time to watch TV come from? what did it displace? …went unanswered.
emerging media are way more powerful than TV. in 1988 for the first time kids were watching less TV in the US, the result of the rise of computers and the web. where Cole believes that we lost the opportunity on TV, we can make up for it with online, and eleven years ago set up a research programme to track a panel over time as the internet changes their life…
key findings from the research are around teenage behaviour and in internet, but crucially, Cole seeks to make a key distinction between those behaviours and attitudes that teens do and have because they are young and have time, and those behaviours and attitudes which are permanent. what will drop off as life gets in the way? versus what do they do that is 'transformational' with regard to the society that they will grow up to form.
he observed that college students setting up home for first the time are particularly instructive. no landline and no newspapers for them. but also no cable (90% penetration in US so this is a significant trend). Cole believes that whilst we're not looking at the end of cable, we are looking at the end of the cable pricing structure as it stands.
things that teenagers abandon…
teenagers say they're not affcted by advertising. which isn't true. like all of us they are they just don't like to admit it
they believe that unknown peers are 'just like me' and can be trusted – similarly this comes to change over time as they learn the world isn't always what it seems
teenagers don't use email and claim to only need IM, texts and facebook (they go further and say that voice calling is 'an intrusion' – similarly this is an attitude that fades into adulthood
they want to know all the details of their peers' lifes in what they describe as 'ambient awareness' (a phrase strikingly similar to the continuous partial presence that Faris described in May 2007); Cole observed that Twitter works because of this … ambient awareness is a general understanding of someone's situation, and a reflection that teens want not fifteen minutes but fifteen megabytes of fame
we're not initially good at distinguishing truth from fiction. Cole argues that this is because we didn't have to question the mass media we grew up with (the Chinese for example are better at critical media assesment) …we are better at understanding amateur vs proffesional, which Cole suggested was due to beter understanding the limitations and boundaries of ugc
he talked about Murdoch and MySpace, and reflected that at the time of the NewsCorp purchase he commented that "it's a great investment but he'll never hang onto the teenage users" … an angry NewsCorp rebutted by saying "look how much money we're making" but Cole by that time already had the hindsight to see Friendster and Geocities go. to teenagers, he said, "social networks are like nightclubs", despite this, Facebook is going nowhere (yet), a fact underlined by his observation that at their last Zeitgeist, Google seemed nervous (they have no place nor role in Facebook's world)
finally, teenagers have no sense of the nature of and need for privacy. for good reason the law says you can't sign contract till 18. whilst this attitude means that kids upload potentially very compromising things to the internet, this is not a lifelong attitude, and with maturity comes a sense of what is public and what is private
which brings us to the things teenagers keep, and with them significant implications for society, brands and advertising…
teenagers have, and keep into adulthood a total control over their media. Cole cited the 17yo who first unlocked his iPhone; he didn't want to unlock it for anything in particular, he unlocked it so that he knew that he could
a huge implication for the media industry is that permanent changes in attitude mean we're seeing the beginning of the end of platforms … Newspapers, in Cole's opinion, are history. environmental reasons is one reason for teens, but furtermore the concept of owning media is in it's last days as we move to the cloud. on newspapers, teenagers not using print is a permanent shift. they are very much into news, but the internet delivers this. Cole's prediction is a stark one – because every time a print reader dies they are not being replaced, print has about 5 years in the states, and around 8-9 years in Australia (perhaps)
teenagers don't grow out of not wearing watches (the mobile is their watch and alarm clock and much else besides) – this is not a problem for Rolex, but will have consequences for more mainstream inexpensive watches
TV is not on a set top box and is not scheduled. YouTube is TV, and TV is any content you watch on your schedule
Game playing is serious business that ecourages task-oriented behaviour and is similarly a behaviour and attitude that is here to stay
"Mobile isn't everything – it's becoming every thing" – it's rapidly becoming the primary and predominant place where teenagers get media
on the iPad, Cole observes that it is NOT the fourth screen, rather it replaces the second screen (the pc), and that we're witnessing the beginning of the end of the PC as standard home device for many people
finally and most significantly, there is an emerging and permanent shift in the perception of real versus perceived empowerment. we are passive readers no more, we contribute and correct. we self-diagnose our illnesses. we negotiate on deals based on pre-research and start our negotiations based on wholesale prices … the "internet is best at shining light into dark places", giving everyone power over governments, over repression … this most important trend will emerge and very much in Cole's opinion stay with us.
will Facebook eventually be displaced? yes, but it will continue to grow for around four more years. it will be supplanted by another more fragmented social media landscape. Facebook won't be abandoned completely, but will become more passive – an ongoing reminder of the biggest social networking site there ever was or ever will be.
2% of people drop off the internet each year… they leave because they change jobs or their PCs break. with few exceptions their back within 14 months.
advertising will remain the model for content. Cole wants to see content survive, and so wants to see digital advertising survive.
I asked about permanent vs transitory media. there was suggestion that whilst the legacy media (BBC, NBC, NYT) were permanent, emerging media (notably social networks) aren't – they are transitory platforms that people adopt for a while before moving on. will Hulu – for example – be permanent or transitory? Cole's opinion is that all platforms will need to learn and adapt. Google will adapt. as will Hulu. legacy media brands – and indeed all media brands – will be defined by their ability to evolve.
next up Agnello Dias – creative director at Taproot, who talked to the festival about the remarkable story of advertising and comms work for The Times Of India, a story that began with a brief…
a brief to celebrate India's 60th year of independence. an argument broke out in the agency about whether India was on the verge or greatness or the cusp of the abyss. the client talked about the country being at a crossroads. was India to go forward or back? Dias scribbled a paragraph describing 'India vs India' as a creative brief, but as time ran out the client ran the brief as an ad. the brief. a dat later Dias was informed that the brief wouldn't be an ad after all … it was to be the front page editorial.
the front page became audiovisual content which became a YouTube viral.
which became a debate. a debate so emphatic that The Times Of India decided to call the debaters bluff…
the response to the video was a national platform that created a parralel decision making group, bypassing party politics and supported by politicians. facilitating democracy in a nation a billion people strong.
what has any of this to do with brand and selling newspapers? nothing. to the client it's not about that. it's about building credibility – something that has huge benefit for a paper… after all who is the prime minister going to call?
the latest phase was editorial that ran on the anniversary of Mumbai terrorist attacks. The Times Of India ran a headline saying love Pakistan – a controversial position that stimulated a great deal of opposition, even people in Dias' office didn't want to work on the campaign. but the objective was to start a debate that would lead to peace, rather than perpetuate an argument for war…
the jury, according to Dias, is out on whether or not they should have done it. they will see what results. whatever happens, it's a phenomenal story … a story of a media brand acting not as reporters or observers but as instigators of change. as provocateurs of debate. as writers of the future.
next up the enigmatic Jess Greenwood of Contagious fame who talked about projects not campaigns – and a shift away from the creation of advertising to the creation of projects with no specific timespan. less say and more do, behaviour rather than talk.
Greenwood also talked about how everything is advertsing and – in a phrase of which I was particularly fond – that we need to be "less 360 in our thinking and more 365" … nice. as an example she cited how after tweeting to complain about the music in the Air New Zealand lounge in LAX, her tweet was picked up by the airline in New Zealand who called the lounge front desk in LA who invited Greenwood to choose her own music. this all took less than 60 seconds. remarkable stuff.
so how do we change, well one we put insights before advertising. no more the Mad Men model of ideas leading executions, of working out how to execute ideas generated on gut feel. two, its about engagement over reach (allelulia) – citing one advertiser who said they would rather have 100 engaged people than 1,000,000 passive ones.
the Contagious mantra is that branded communications in the early 21st Century should be Useful and or Relevant and or Entertaining. a mantra she expounded across three main themes…
ONE – Inside Out Marketing
we need to stop mindlessly pushing marketing and product into the world and instead be the change we want to see. as example is Operation Nice, which seeks to encourage people to embrace an emering sense of independence by saying that 'if you want something doing…'
her next example was Dulux who want to own colour. rather than telling people that they want to own colour they behaved like they owned colour via an urban regeneration project. they asked people which areas deseved colour, then launched Let's Colour. they went to areas around the world and added colour, areas like Tower Hamlets. the brand managers and local communities did the painting, and produced some rather remarkable content…
their sucker punch is that Dulux 'own' colour, but communicate such in a very real and credible – or inside-out – way. Greenwood talked about a smart approach by Dulux to how this thinking is deployed on a global via local level; the global mandate was to find out what colour means to your country, and make it happen through actions and behaviours at a local level.
Greenwood talked about mass media as an "iterative process", citing the example of how VW and a tiny Darth Vader 'jacked' the superbowl. the ad was deliberately released prior to the broadcast to build buzz prior to seeing it on the Superbowl screen. it is TV (advertising) but TV not just designed for TV – it's wholeheartedly designed for theiInternet.
another example from Levi's and their Go Forth organising idea (note not campign). Levi's are using this idea to generate behaviour and action as opposed to making and broadcasting hyperbole. Levi's – amongst other things – built a community centre and funded the library in Braddock. they are building infrastructure. they've opened workshops to give substance to their claim that 'Levi's makes things by hand and makes things the right way'. this makes levi's meaningful.
Greenwood talked about four pillars of convergence in media and communications:
AV experience on screen (whatever and wherever that screen may be)
Interctivity of internet (facilitation two-way engagement, converstion, debate and cooperation and cocreation)
Location-based functionality and customisation of mobile phone
Real world experience
when developing insights and ideas we need to ask ourselves if said insight or idea can work in and across these four areas. if it can, then it could work… for example T-Mobile create advertising as programming. if you're doing mass media it has to be this engaging…
"it's designed not just for broadcasting but for sharing. they are creating mass media for the Internet, for niche media".
TWO – be Prolific not Precious
'Social media makes stories' – this, in Greenwood's opinion, is the evolution of user generated content … smart brands monitor and track the stories as they emerge around them – cue Gatorade Mission controlness.
another example is reformed drug addict Ted Williams, the story of whom was picked up by a journalist who learned he had a great voice for radio. he made a film about ted's life. which went from zero to 13m views in two days. this in turn ws picked up by Kraft who used the Ted in their ad. all of which is phenomenal enough, until you consider the timescale…
Monday – upload the video Tuesday – watch the views pile up Wednesday – Ted appears on TV with ad agency Friday – Ted's voiced ad is on air
using social media to tell stories garnered 450m media impressions for Kraft. and there are a plethora of examples where that came from… Qantas flew the girl with the twitter handle @theashes to Australia for the Ashes. all because said girl / handle got messages from people wanting the cricket score … a bit of support via #gettheashestotheashes and Qantas and Virgin were fighting it out to make it happen.
Hippo snacks example of using tweets as distribution management system and saw a 76% increase in sales.
and finally on proliferation, the South African low cost airline project (not campaign) around the World Cup in aid of being the 'unofficial national carrier' of the World Cup… the best thing about this campaign was something they hadn't planned for. the airline offered free flights to anyone called Sepp Blatter, so when a dog came forward to say that that was his name the airline flew the dog around the world.
THREE - Play and Gaming
the rise of play dynamics in marketing. Gamification. adding game dynamics into marketing but also product design. Greenwood used the example of Ford who have a virtual plant on the dashboard that grows if you drive in an environmentally friendly manner.
NBC do market research not via a focus group or survey but via fanit, an initiative that I discussed in a post in May of last year.
Skittles pitched David Phoenix versus Skittles fans.
Mini gaming in Stockholm example. Steal the car.
one interesting point from Greenwood, if you're going to develop or have a game or app, make sure that you have an end to it, a climax or endpoint to which people can aim.
and finally in gameification a wonderful project called iButterfly, which uses an app that captures virtual butterflies to get vouchers to people. smart, contemporary, embedded with utility and above all fun. as Contagious as it gets.
three final suggestions from Greenwood…
ensure that your communications are Useful and/or Relevant and/or Entertaining
make sure your idea is created, developed and deployed for real people not marketing people
Be brave and make mistakes
and that was session one, post is way big enough so I'll write up the other sessions in following posts…
the Untempered Schism [source] …the Doctor ran away, The Master went mad, I just keep staring at the Tweets and clicking on the links as they hurtle towards me
I have seen my future – it is TweetDeck on a SmartPhone – and it terrifies me. I fear that my life will not be the same again.
it all started when earlier in the week I got round to downloading TweetDeck to my laptop, and lost the following two hours, and several hours since, jumping to links as they were delivered into my live feed. it got me thinking about how much the way I consume stuff has accelerated over time…
I used to communicate pretty much exclusively asynchronously; if someone called me and I wasn't around they called back later or just didn't call at all. but then things started speeding up, first with email and mobile phones, and then with RSS (which I never really got used to) and now Twitter. at the end of this acceleration phase I now find myself plugged directly into stuff as it happens; I'm living in RealTime, my communications are predominantly synchronous. I'm not alone. in a brilliant post, Jim Stogdill describes a similar experience…
"Email was the first electronic medium to raise my clock speed, and also my first digital distraction problem. After some "ding, you have mail," I turned off the blackberry notification buzz, added rationing to my kit bag of coping strategies, and kept on concentrating. Then RSS came along and it was like memetic crystal meth. The pursuit of novelty in super-concentrated form delivered like the office coffee service … It was a RUSH to know all this stuff, and know it soonest; but it came like a flood. That un-read counter was HARD to keep to zero and there was always one more blog to add … From my vantage point today, RSS seems quaint. The good old days. I gave it up for good last year when I finally bought an iPhone and tapped Twitter straight into the vein. Yeah, I went real time."
the problem with staring into the infinity of RealTime is that your attention levels drop through the floor. there's only so much attention to give, and as the density of the communications coming at me has increased my ability to stay focused on any one thing has declined.
Richard of Sydney-based Now and Next calls is Constant Partial Stupidity. in a great post on his trend spotting site, he describes some of the symptoms of CPS…
"…how about your inability to remember multiple passwords, with the result that getting money out of an ATM at weekends has been turned into something resembling the national lottery? Or what about phone numbers? What is your home telephone number? Many people no longer have a clue and it’s not simply because they use a mobile telephone. This is the brave new world of too much information and not enough functioning memory"
my attention is increasingly focused on staring into the infinity of now, with the result that increasing amounts of my attention are being diverted to now, and away from my past and futures.
the history of my life since 19th February 2006 is contained with 5,150 gmails, all search-able in seconds. I don't have to remember anything, so I don't.
I plan in the now too… if I wanted a Playstation game (its XBox these days) I used to do my research in magazines and online – my attention was on the future. now if I'm passing a shop I can check the reviews there and then, make the decision not in the past but in the now.
my world is collapsing into RealTime, and as a consequence my attention is being pulled away from my past and possible futures. the implication for brand communications planning is obvious: the past and the future become irrelevant. unless a brand is active in the moment, in RealTime, then they may as well not exist at all.
the above screengrab is from a really rather glorious TRENDS & TECHNOLOGY TIMELINE 2010+ conceived, created and – courtesy of creative commons – shared with the world by Richard Watson at Nowandnext.com. you can view the whole thing here. its worth it. do it now.
its a complicated thing for a complicated subject… how do you aggregate let alone predict the various and multiplicitous future offerings that a speeding-up tech-driven lived-in-real-time world will bring? well, you imagine a London tube map where stations are trends, lines are broad themes or topics and the further away from zone 1 you get the further into the future you travel, and it turns out you're in pretty good shape.
as Watson observes, "Predicting the future is a dangerous game — the future is never a straight, linear extrapolation from the present. Unexpected innovations and events will conspire to trip up the best-laid plans — but it’s still better than not thinking about the future at all" …well worth printing in A3 and sticking near your desk.
not surprisingly, given the whole dawning of a new decade thing, recent weeks have seen a deluge of predictions and future trend observations emerge; and in another philanthropic move, Syamant of futurechat has aggregated a whole load of them into one place for us. dive in a go future-exploring.
all this is important. its important because as media and message blur, the recommendations we make to brands can't just be what to say and where to say it. an application – for example – is neither media or message, its a blur of both. our recommendations instead have to be developed and built around identification of the topics and themes that exist for a brand or organisation to potentially say something about, and indeed why its relevant for a given brand to be involved in a particular area.
predicting the trends of tomorrow doesn't just provide an academic sojourn into what may come to pass… rather it gives anyone involved in communications planning starters for ten on the topics and themes that will impact and change our lives. and understanding and explaining to which of those a brand should connect is some of the most valuable advice we can give. let the future commence.