measuring, printing, publishing, reporting, sampling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

creating, making, marketing, planning, publishing, sampling

More than a Calling Card: how Daemon Group is creating collateral fit for the Age of Evidence

the cover of Daemon Group's calling card; THINK 02 Issue 2

you meet a lot of people in this business, most of whom leave you with a warm feeling, a couple of action points that you promise to yourself you'll do, and a business card.  no so the Daemon Group, the day after a meeting with whom, I received a magazine designed, written and produced by the agency.

it's a collection of thoughts and analysis of everything from design concepts to social issues, taking in behaviour and international reportage on the way…  and it's a pretty great read.

Think_Daemon_social-article the stats on social, just one of several articles on the changing communications landscape

the idea of a more personal calling card isn't necessarily new; moo have been providing the best of ways to personalise and add character to your 'keep in touch' collateral…  nor is the idea of the company magazine…

but what stand's Daemon Group's effort apart is the sheer commitment to quality…  the quality of the not only thinking, writing, and production, but also the quality of contact…  the magazine was delivered fresh to my desk the morning after my meeting with Richard, the group's chief executive.  the commitment to following up the meeting with me was matched only by the commitment to the collateral delivered.

the two big implications for brands and the planning of marketing communications are clear.  one, invest in quality collateral…  don't say you're passionate about what you do, have collateral that proves it.  don't gesticulate on the quality of your thinking, have collateral that demonstrates it…  buying media space that tells people how good / fast / impressive / [insert USP here] you are, is for a time now long gone by…

we live in the age of evidence.

claims, counter claims, and statements no longer cut it.  in the age of evidence it's what you do that counts, what you produce that get's noticed.  in the age of evidence reputations are built on what you craft and deliver to make your case to the world.

the second implication for brands is to have good, considered connections planning.  the too-often used phrase that means, simply, to have a plan for how you create and manage connections with people.  Daemon Group's magazine means nothing to me whilst it's sat on their Chief Executive's coffee table.  how much of what a brand actually does remains locked up?  hidden behind policy doors and content management gates.  brands that love their collateral set it free, fueling connections with people…

because that's what the best communications planning, at it's core, is…  what evidence can we create that proves the truth about what our brand is and represents; and how can we ensure that the right people encounter that evidence in relevant and meaningful ways?

I'm grateful that in a complicated world, which sometimes seems to move faster than I can keep up, a magazine landed on my desk to remind me how elegantly simple it all really is.  the challenge isn't to keep up with a changing communications landscape; the challenge is to remember that you can.

oh, and there's an article on Mr Potato Head too – who doesn't love that…


sampling, social media-ising

The most personal of experiences: how a Mystery Box, Facebook and an Envelope are combined to deliver so much more than a sample

so I was plugging into RealTime, as you do, earlier on today and a few tweets popped up from people saying that they'd been chosen.  I like being chosen for things; its one of those gloriously self-affirming things that makes you feel good and accepted and safe and therefore at peace and happy.  its a human thing.

anyway…  I clicked the and found myself looking at the above mystery box.  and a rather glorious mystery box it is too.

I've written about Mystery Boxes before, I love them and there aren't enough of them in what we do…  they're what JJ Abrams describes as "infinite possibility, hope and potential" … he says that he finds himself "drawn to infinite possibility and that sense of potential, and I realise that mystery is the catalyst for the imagination … what are stories but mystery boxes?"

and this must be a good mystery box, because when the site asks me to connect with Facebook I do so without hesitation.  actually I do that a lot more now, I'm finding that I'm starting to click Connect at the drop of a hat…  Zuckerberg and his 'end of privacy' could be nearer to winning the battle for the internet 'aggregator of aggregators' than I realise…

anyway…  clicking on Connect starts a video which ends up with me looking at myself.  and my friends.  on lots of screens.  in a video that until a few seconds ago didn't exist.


now this isn't new…  applications have been doing this for a couple of years now.  but there are a few noteworthy things about it…  one, its beautifully done; the most elegant and clean of experiences.  two it can be spread like lightening both before and after the experience; with Twitter bringing up front then Facebook the rear of the journey.  finally its gloriously tangible…  the fact that (if I lived in the States) I'd be expecting an envelope to arrive on my door adds a very RealWorld element to what would otherwise have been a cool online experience.


its a shame it has to stop there really…  I can't help but think that
it would be a brilliant way to start an ARG …only when the envelope
arrives does the game begin.  and the game could play out on Facebook
because you're already plugged in.  oh its all good…

experiencing, popping up, sampling

When a brand in hand isn’t enough: why binding experience and sampling together is an opportunity most brands shouldn’t afford to miss

Haribo_Edinburgh_sampleDr Pepper_Edinborgh_samplegrabbing samples at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; (top) Fraser and me grabbing some Haribo, (bottom) Mark and I on the Dr Pepper

so my good mate Mark this morning sent me thru the above pics taken whilst we were in Edinburgh a few weeks ago.  during my heady couple of days of non-stop show-seeing and jumping around at the Fringe, we stumbled across a couple of brands sampling festival-goers on the Royal Mile.  hence the rather delightful pics above of my good self with Fraser and Mark (who doesn't normally have a moustache but who was in a show and so has at least one good excuse)…

which brings us to the subject of sampling.  when to do it, how to do it and who to do it to.  I guess my brief Edinburgh experiences tell me a couple of things; one – that its essential to get the right people at the right place (no poo Sherlock) but two, that I'm not very convinced that sampling on its own is enough…

to the first point; it was sunny, we were festivalled up, having fun and running around.  in that context both brands were spot on in terms of understanding who they were targeting and why.  a bag of sweets and a can of sugary good stuff were perfect additions to the afternoon.  for both brands, adding their fun-filled good stuff to such a positive and buzzing environment meant that they complemented and were complemented by what was going around the sampling teams.

but to my second point, what was the actual benefit of the exercise?  they got brand in hand but I'm sure there's more to the opportunity than this…  shouldn't both of these brands have been looking to add an experience to the sampling moment that made more of the sample's investment but also more of the person's investment in taking time to sample / experience the brand.


it is in many ways the opposite situation to that of Pot Noodle's (above) effort at last years Festival, where Mother staged a musical (which I wrote about here).  great experience but what about the sampling opportunity?  at the very least handing out pots of the stuff after the show…  but they could have gone further – what about Edinburgh Festival limited edition Pots, or a mechanic that incorporated a sampling experience into the show.

the bottom line is that sampling and experience are increasingly part of the same equation.  but not just in some strategic 'yeah cool lets join it up' way, but rather in an intrinsic, bound together, one can't and shouldn't live without the other kind of way.

a brand on which I currently work is using pop-ups shops to sample some NPD, because venturing into a space which lives and breathes what a brand stands for whilst being offered an opportunity to take a bit of that brand's product with you is infinitely more powerful than being handed it cold in the street…  and when that street in Edinburgh is one of the busiest, crowded and expectant streets in the world, that's an opportunity you couldn't and shouldn't afford to miss.