phdcast, realtiming, sponsoring, tweeting, viewing

PHDcast 26.07.13: The one with the Hoo Hah’s … Binge TV Viewing, Brands Welcome Baby Prince George and Electroencephalographs, hoo hah!

another week another PHDcast and this week is the hoo hah edition (you’ll see) …

we talk all about binge viewing on TV, from Lost to Game of Thrones; how are programme makers creating (and distributing) content so that we’re encouraged (tricked?) to watch incessantly? how are viewing habits changing and what are the opportunities for brands to monetise the behaviour?

we also talk about how brands welcomed baby Prince George to the world. from Oreos and Starbucks to P&G and the Sun (or Son) … how did brands capitalise on the cultural hoo hah (I know) that was the birth of the third in line to the throne?

all that plus Nestle use electroencepholographs to prove that taking a break is good for you (I know), and new research from MI9 …

here’s Nic channeling Demi Moore, specifically in Ghost … obvs. have a good weekend everyone …

PHDcast Nic 26.07.13

applicationing, conversing, realtiming, sharing, social media-ising

Bringing the Reality of Deepwater Home: how is utilising GoogleMaps and RealTime data to fuel conversation and action


on April 20 an explosion on the BP operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed eleven crew members, sparking not only a significant environmental incident, but – increasingly – a new case study on how interested parties can bring pressure to bear on governments and organisations.

like The Guardian vs. Trafigura last year, the ongoing BP Deepwater Horizon situation is fueling emergent possibilities and rules of engagement on how different groups and organisations engage and influence each other, of which the above is a great example…

it's a GoogleMap of Sydney and the surrounding area, with the current extent of the Deepwater Oil spill super-imposed on top.  it makes real the extent of the spill, which – if it was here in Sydney – would stretch from Newcastle in the north to Wollongong in the south, and from far out to sea in the east to far beyond the blue mountains to the west.  it's all courtesy of the original page of which shows the extent of the spill in it's actual location.


it's interesting for three reasons.  one, it's built and powered by (pretty much) RealTime data.  we can see the situation as it is now, rather than retrospectively or projected.  the site explains how the data is collected…

"The data used to create the spill image comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA releases a daily report detailing where the spill is going to be within the next 24 hours. They do this by collecting data from a number of sources, including satellite imagery and reports by trained observers who have made helicopter flights back and forth across the potentially affected areas. This data is entered into several leading computer models by NOAA oceanographers along with information about currents and winds in the gulf." source

the second point of interest is how the site is intrinsically social.  of course all of the web is social now, but everything about the site is designed to make it adoptable and sharable, with functionality that encourages just that.

finally, it's such an elegant idea.  too often we fail to grasp the reality of a situation because it's too remote, too incomprehensible, is too short on credibility, or because its difficult to relate to.  this simple and elegant idea takes all of that square on, making the spill as relatable as it can be, in as credible a way as can be imagined.  whilst all the time fueling personalised ugc to propel the issue into conversations from which it may have otherwise been absent.

the casebook on how governments, BP, the media and the public interacted and influenced each other throughout the Deepwater incident is yet to be written, but I suspect that when it is, will have had a part to play.

broadcasting, buying, planning, realtiming

Going Live: Observations from the forefront of RealTime planning, via The Olympics, the Superbowl and Harold Macmillan

Seth-wescott-visa-ad Seth Westcott, who performed in RealTime ad placements for Visa

courtesy of WARC, via Andy, comes a great article on the RealTime activation.  whilst there was a fair degree of coverage of the efforts at the time, new commentary seems to show the extent to which the companies involved have deemed the initiatives a success.

commenting on broadcasting a TV spot minutes after one of their athletes – snowboarder Seth Westcott – won his second gold medal, Michael Lynch, Visa's head of global sponsorships, said "Our research has proven out that [these ads] are one of the best connections between Visa and the Olympics we have … We know the opportunity in the moment when we're sharing with Seth his accomplishments is special, and it's worked extremely well for us."

Drew-brees_Dove Drew Brees, Dove Men+Care's Most Valuable Player

a similar approach was adopted by Unilever's Dove Men+Care, who's ad featuring New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees landed on US screens hours after his team won the Super Bowl.  being named MVP didn't do any harm either; "It just ended up perfectly" observed Rob Master, director of media for Unilever's North American operations.

whilst underpinned by technology, and the willingness (and / or necessity) of media companies to accommodate such media buys, the above ad placements mark three interesting observations for those of us negotiating the future of media and communications.

one, that there's an interesting and clear direction of travel emerging, and it's called convergence into RealTime.  so far so whatever – this we know and I've written some thoughts on that before.  but the second observation – the infiltration of RealTime into the broadcast stream – shows just how far the trend is now pushing…

it's not unrealistic to assume that continued fragmentation of channels and viewing will only increase the opportunities to place more customised and relevant content in front of people in RealTime.  and there's a fascinating insight into how this could be deployed in the below video, showing how Slate’s Seth Stevenson bought an ad in a low-rating spot.  via Google.

it only takes a small leap to imagine how Google data could be combined with this technology to deploy a significant proportion of a schedule in RealTime, based on whatever factors a planner deems appropriate…  run ads when only it's raining, or whenever a sports team wins, or when interest rate decreases are announced.  to name but three – the possibilities become kind of endless…

but the final observation takes a lesson from Politics.  when Harold Macmillan was asked what represented the greatest challenge for a statesman, he replied: "Events, my dear boy, events"  …both the Visa and Dove examples above resonated above and beyond delivering pure awareness because, and only because, of events.

I can't help but suspect that the future of media implementation may have events very much at it's heart.  from mass events like the Olympics or the Superbowl, to macro events like interest rate changes, thru to the micro events of re-targeting someone who visited a website.  politics' greatest challenge may be media implementation's greatest

debating, internet, realtiming, social media-ising, social networking, user-generating

Elephants and Mountains: notes from MySpace’s Next Chapter of Social Media

MySpace_conf_1 and we're off…  Tim Burrowes chairs MySpace's Next Chapter in Social Media

there was only one word of the day last week, when MySpace Australia hosted their Next Chapter in Social Media event in deepest darkest Alexandria.  that word was Discovery.  MySpace is about discovery, and being discovered.  and about discovering stuff.  "MySpace will be the best tool for Discovery" was the assertion of the social network's International Co-President Mike Jones, who in his keynote speech highlighted projects from the network that are "allowing people to get Discovered".

Mike_Jones_MySPace Jones made the point that 'social' is no longer a USP…  every web property has or will soon have social elements as an integral part of their offering.  being a network that is social isn't enough.  hence 'Discovery', and MySpace's intended positioning as the internet's 'Discovery Engine'.  they're nothing if not bold.

Jones discussed a range of MySpace innovations, from allowing realtime commenting on the site to integration with Twitter; and he talked about the site's new AdStream unit, which allows advertisers to "push ads into the stream", the "consumer-activated pop-up" for which delivers "incredible impact".

we have a problem here.  well actually we have two.

firstly, the innovations aren't.  innovative.  my Twitter has been linked to my Facebook for as long as I can remember (which in realtime isn't I admit that long but long enough given the pace of change in social media network evolution).  nor is commenting on content in real time revolutionary, to pretend that it is may do more damage than good.  ditto MySpace Music's developing an algorithm to recommend music based on what you're listening to.  we've been there and we've done that, nothing new is being brought to the table.

the second problem is of more concern because it gives visibility to the mentality behind the direction in which MySpace is going.  Jones' comments – that "ads" can be "pushed" and deliver "impact" – is a broadcast mentality, a mentality that has no place as a core proposition within an online social network.  while the rest of the comms community discuss engagement, content, utility and ways in which brands can make our lives more intuitive, MySpace find themselves talking about ads that deliver more impact.

there's a disconnect between the MySpace product and the role of brands here…  the primary role of brands is not IMHO to fund MySpace.  that comes as an important and necessary result of brands engaging with and providing utility for MySpace users.  for MySpace themselves not to be leading this intellectual charge should, in the month that saw AOL give up on Bebo, be of concern.

there's a genuine sense that MySpace are playing catch-up.  even the acknowledgment by Jones that "sometimes what you Discover on MySpace may not be on MySpace, and we're OK with that" sounds more like the waving of a white flag rather than a confident forging of partnerships to grow, activate and engage the MySpace user-base.

the danger is that 'Discovery' becomes nothing more than an interesting but unownable concept for which product simply doesn't follow through.  Jones may assert that "Discovery is the one thing we really have to nail", but the one question that everyone at MySpace should be asking themselves…  'how do we bring utility to how people discover stuff on the internet?' doesn't seem to be being asked, at least in last week's public forum.

I Tweeted at the event #myspaceevent wondering what myspace would have done differently if they could replay the last five years over again?

Tim picked it up and put the question to Jones, who was honest and candid.  MySpace couldn't keep pace with its own growth.  resources were diverted to infrastructure and sales, rather than product; "for five years they [MySpace] were so busy keeping the site up that they had no visibility on what users were doing".  Jones has his work cut out.

MySpace_conf_2 wise words from  Dan Pankraz of DDB

next up at the event was Dan Pankraz, a Youth Planning Specialist at DDB who gave an overview on Generation C.  the content was or should be very familiar to those of us who have been negotiating the future of media and communications for a while, but some solid observations were made:

  • for the 'connected collective', happiness = being part of the tribe
  • successful ideas aren't necessarily the biggest but the fastest moving
  • we need to create stuff for the swarm to pick up and run with
  • conversations never end
  • mobiles = social oxygen
  • 82% of young people rely on peer approval for decision making
  • brand relevance is determined in the moment
  • online identities are different from our real ones; the online version being the 'wanname'
  • gen-C are pluralistic with sub-cultures, and avoid perceptions of one-dimensionality

one observation that caused some chatter on the day was a stat from FastCompany claiming that in 9 hours of media consumption, gen-C take in 13 hours of content.  personally I thought that sounded conservative – multitasking alone potentially doubles the amount of media a content-hungry gen-C can  devour, with their attention span decreasing accordingly of course.

Pankraz shared a plethora of examples of who's out there doing interesting stuff in this space…  broadly aligned along three pillars; Collaboration, Purposeful Platforms and Play…

on Collaboration: "agencies talk too much about the tools and not enough about how brands can be more social and what content they have to share" … "the best brands allow people to morph ideas" … "do stuff with and for gen-C not at them" … gen-C are not a destination and can't be targeted, rather they are a partner in production.

Kypski's One Frame of Fame Project encourages all of us to be in their music video, which us updated every hour based on contributions from, well, anyone…

attracting 14 million unique visits within 8 weeks, Draft FCB Stockholm's campaign for Sweden's TV licensing body allowed anyone to create a video clip where anybody could be the hero of the clip…

on Purposeful Platforms: Pankraz cited Coke's Expedition 206, for which three ambassadors take a journey to all 206 countries where Coca-Cola is sold, interestingly thats 14 more countries than are represented by the United nations…

on Play: "…a key marketing paradigm to engage audiences", Pankraz described Cabbie-oke, DDB's project for Telstra which see's Cabbie-oke cabs offering free cab rides every weekend; so all you have to do is belt out a tune for your free ride…


he described RedBull as "probably the most playful brand in the world" citing their 'secret halfpipe' project for Shaun White.  they do what great brands – in Pankraz's view – should all do: experiment with and create popular culture…

in short, its not what you say, but what you do that counts.  Dan blogs here.

MySpace_conf_3 SMO joke – Nicole Still gives the advertiser's perspective

the final speaker of the afternoon was the enigmatic J&J's Pacific Digital Director Nicole Still, who gave a candid walk through ten principles she works to at the company:

  1. never, ever, censor… "deleting comments is not an option"
  2. be ready for SMO (Social Media Outbreak); that thing that happens when someone replies or responds to what you've put out there.  she encourages J&J marketers to just try [something new], admitting that "for companies like J&J, Social Media is like the dentist; it means well but it causes great anguish"
  3. every brand has a right to be there [in the social space]
  4. develop a parallel brand to deploy into the social media space – for example Neutrogena is building a OLS (one less stress) brand to deploy into the social space
  5. prioritise and define the role of each social media channel
  6. use a combination of paid, earned and free media (Still cited a recent campaign that split investment 75% paid, 20% earned and 5% owned, and suggested that for an investment of c.$1.3m she'd expect to generate c.$3m of total 'media')
  7. harness alpha-influencers on third-party sites
  8. practice on Facebook (who don't charge to have sites) – remember that "people don't take on individuals, they take on corporations" (ie always respond individually)
  9. measure what matters: the number friends you have doesn't.  50% of the people who visit the J&J site 'fan' it.  she has five key metrics: sales, reach & freq, awareness, cost effectiveness and engagement
  10. sometimes, its about presence not participation.  sometimes, just being there is enough

in the discussion after-wards, Still made some surprising comments about the client / agency relationship.  "from J&J's standpoint, its the responsibility of the [digital] agency [to monitor the social space]" … "at a global [big brand] level, it shouldn't be brought in house" … and finally, "we take responsibility for training the agency".  this last point in particular was interesting, Still admitted taking what is a reasonable and responsible position in ensuring her agencies are delivering what she and her company needs.  ultimately "you have to give people ownership in the space to be incredible successes or colossal failures".  refreshing indeed.

in the final panel discussion I asked about the elephant.  the big grey one.  there.  in the room.  there.  behind you…  "Australian marketing invests relatively less than equivalent digitally-enabled countries in online.  PWC have stated that "traditional media 'owns' the market in Australia for a long time yet to come".  so why is Australia lagging behind and what would the panel like to do to help it catch up?"

for Pankraz it was about better learning: Australian clients have had a bad education from agencyland – we need to better educate the market about digital.

Still challenged the question, citing The Best Job in the World as an example of great thinking coming out of Australia, a country which many companies want to be a testbed for innovation and marketing thinking.

only Rebekah Horne tackled my elephant, commenting that because there are no agreed metrics or online currency in Australia, traditional media is seen as less risky; less risky for agencies to recommend, and less risky for marketers to buy…

it was quite the appropriate comment from the Managing Director and Senior Vice President International of MySpace.  Horne must know better than anyone the mountain MySpace now have to climb, but its perhaps no different from that which all of us negotiating the future of media and communications have to climb.  MySpace may not have the answers to what the Next Chapter of Social Media looks like, but from here it looks like they're the ones who are creating a forum for the asking; and finding the answers is required learning for MySpace and the industry alike.

brand extending, creating, realtiming, social media-ising

It’s a crazy world, but I wouldn’t have it any other way: me and a pair of limited edition adidas’ that I was never destined to own

its a beautiful Friday evening in Sydney, but before I head out for a few drinks for Zaac's birthday, I'd like to tell you a story.  its a story about a great brand, and about how the world of communications works now; but more than that its a story about me and a pair of trainers that I will never now own.  and why thats OK.

it begins last Saturday, when Size sent an email to their mailing list.  on that list was my friend @fraser201 who, upon seeing that contained in that email were some of the most amazing trainers he'd seen an a good long while, forwarded the email on to me.  he knew I'd like it, you see two of my favourite things in all the world are trainers and Star Wars.  and there on the Size email were those two things.  together.  in one place.  Star Wars limited edition trainers.  and they were glorious.

so I turned to Google and got a few results from Star Wars and various trainer sites, but notably saw a result from @adi_originals.  so I promptly hit TweetDeck and fired off a Tweet to adidas, and heard back almost immediately…

Cws_twitter @adi_originals re StarWars collection, awesome stuff!! when are the orange Xwing hightops hitting Sydney? and where can I get them?

Adidas_twitter @cwstephenson The Skywalkers will be available at our Sydney Originals store. Give them a call:

following their link, I got to their Town Hall Originals Store website and placed a call.  the wonderful Chrissie picked up.  she explained that there were strictly limited numbers and that they'd go on sale on a first come first served basis on Friday.  in the diary Friday morning went and I did the polite thing and sent a Tweet back to adidas:

Cws_twitter @adi_originals nice one, thanks – looking forward to picking up some Skywalkers on Friday

and so the week passed.  and when I wasn't working or going out or up to no good, I was thinking about a limited edition pair of adidas Star Wars Stormtroopers, and tweeting about them to @fraser201 and @willsh.  Friday morning, this morning, couldn't come soon enough.

I however, could have come considerably sooner.  too late, I was.  I simply got there too late.  by the time I got to the store there was already a queue and as, one by one, people entered and left the store, the limited editions, one by one, left the store with them.  very soon there weren't any left for me.

I'm not angry or pissed off.  I guess I'm just a little blue.  somewhere in and around Sydney there are limited edition adidas Stormtroopers being worn, or admired, or stored in a safe, but none are being worn or admired or stored in a safe by me.

please don't feel too sorry for me.  there's more where they came from.  the first transport may have gotten away but battle will recommence in a month's time…  the prize?  these little puppies…


but thats not the end of the story, because towards the end of this morning the following popped into my Twitterfeed:

Adidas_twitter @cwstephenson What did you pick up? May The Force Be With You:

adidas remembered.  not just that I was interested in their products but that I was planning on getting some this morning.  four days after our Tweet exchange – an eternity in a world that's converging into RealTime – they remembered and sent me a message.  perhaps its just me, perhaps I was feeling needy, but I find that pretty remarkable.

play my story back again… here's how it went down: a retailer sent a mailer out which was forwarded to me via someone in my network so I searched then tweeted, then tweeted some more, then went to a store and missed out but then received a tweet which contained a link to the below rather amazing ad which I clicked on and watched.

the ad came last.

after all the product development, partnership building, new news generating, social networking and direct communicating, I watched an ad.  and ad designed not to make me go and by something.  quite the opposite.  an ad as an affirmation.  a validation of the journey that I'd just been on.  "thats why I love this brand" is the response it so deservedly earns.

because in all of that story, in all that maelstrom of communications and connections, at no point was any media bought.  at every step along the way it was earned; earned by a brand creating something that in the end I wasn't even able to buy.

its a crazy world, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  good weekends all…

internet, predicting, realtiming, social media-ising, targeting

Staring into the Infinity of Now: the challenge of living in RealTime

Doctor_who_untempered_schism 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.