fragmenting, opinionating, planning, reaching

The Myth of Fragmentation: and the danger of failing to recognise that people haven’t just moved, but that they’ve moved on

a Scout Trooper with a fragmentation grenade: has no bearing on the post other than the fragmentation reference but any excuse … source

there’s a very good opinion piece in this week’s Adnews by MediaCom’s head of implementation, planning and investment Nick Keenan. if you’re a subscriber you can track it down here.

Keenan makes the smart observation that ‘fragmemtation’ is an overused and too simplistically deployed term: “It felt that unless you had worked out how to speak the new hybrid tongue of ‘Tradigital’ (my invented language of combined consumers) being spoken across new ‘BIG’ consolidated/integrated networks you as an advertiser were now hopelessly lost and would never see a mass audience again. We were told and believed we now must grapple with using multiple platforms within traditional media to reach the large numbers we once accessed in single channel environments”

source: Nick Keenan writing in Adnews 3.4.12

Keenan goes further, arguing quite correctly that not only do mass audiences exist, but they have more mass than ever before: “Facebook has over 80% of all people 25-54 … Google has 96% of all Australians online … Put simply these examples along with others such as Amazon, YouTube, and eBay have enormous mass audiences, the likes of which we have never seen.”

source: Nick Keenan writing in Adnews 3.4.12

whilst its very true to say that mass audiences still very much exist, and indeed exist with more mass than they have ever had (media consumption is increasing overall), there is a very real and present danger that we fail to recognise that people haven’t just moved (from Nine to Facebook or Ten to YouTube), but that they have very much moved on too …

they are no longer the ‘passive massive’ (as Faris would put it) that they were when mass audiences existed in the broadcast stream, a mass audience on Facebook or YouTube may be as big or bigger than a Nine or Seven audience, but they (1) behave very differently and (2) have very different expectations of brands …

a mass audience on Facebook or YouTube is in control of what they watch, listen, or interact with. it was Clay Shirky (I think) who observed that whilst in the long tail of content the average quality of what gets made goes down, the average quality of what gets consumed goes up. just landing our content in the new mass platforms is no guarantee that they’ll be viewed let alone interacted with or passed on.

our expectations of what we want in exchange for our attention have changed. the old mass contract stated that if you give us 30 seconds of your attention we will entertain / educate / inform you. the new mass contract is essentially the same, albeit with an extended list of services (utility for example), only now we have a lot more to choose from and less attention to give.

so I’d counter that fragmentation is one of the most profound shifts in our industry right now – but its not fragmentation to platforms (big audiences, as Keenan rightly points out, are getting bigger rather than nicher); rather its a fragmentation towards individual moments and decisions … to watch or not, or pass on or not. that’s crazy fragmentation that introduces more than a little chaos into our mass delivery systems.

yes the mass audience has moved, but more importantly … they’ve moved on.

innovating, planning, reaching

The inverse relationship between innovation and scale: and the tragedy of smart stuff that simply passes us by

this is good.  really good.  OK so no one is going to disagree with the fact that it's a cracking bit of insight-translated-into-execution.  but here's the thing…  does it reach enough people, and is that important?  and am I a bad planner for even asking that question?

I've written recently about the tyranny of reach and the grip that it holds on Australian marketers.  I observed that reach 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.

so I don't for a second give credence to 'reach-based' advertising, but I do suspect that in the main there's probably two kinds of media campaign in the world.  mainstream media campaigns that have scale, and innovative media campaigns that remain niche.  there are of course exceptions to this – those examples of innovative media thinking that break through and deliver scale, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule; by in large – from a media perspective – my bet is that there's an inverse relationship between scale and innovation…  a bit like this…

Scale_innovation_one avoiding the innovation vs. scale envelope into which most media campaigns fall

the challenge for any media effort is to get into the top right quarter, you want to innovate so that you cut-thru / are engaged with / generate earned media / bring down the overall cost-per-impact of your effort.  given these conditions, there are generally therefore only two ways to get top right…  either you attach scale to your innovative efforts or you inject innovation into existing scale.

a comment was made to me earlier in the week that one of the great benefits of using Facebook is the scale it can bring to an idea.  in this context you can rationalise how one of the main reasons Facebook's ad revenues are set to undergo such significant growth is because advertisers increasingly see it as a 'safe' way to bring scale to a schedule.  Facebook is a very good 'scaler'.

the alternative is to take an idea that already has scale and inject
innovation into it – I guess you could argue that efforts to, for
example, bring interactivity to TV sponsorship fit this model.

Scale_innovation_two methods to get you right and top – scalers and innovators

in a perfect world of course you shouldn't have to either attach scale or inject innovation into a plan; both should be inherent – we should be in the business of creating innovative communications ideas that travel.  but these are rare beasts…  and I suspect that whilst no doubt too many conventional solutions fail to innovate, the greater tragedy are the countless innovative media efforts that go to market without sufficient thought into how scale can be generated.  their failure to reach us is ultimately our loss.

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.