PHDcast 19.07.13: The Rambling One, as we talk IAB Awards, Online Measurement, Spotify and Industry Collaboration

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lots of rambling this week, for no apparent reason other than it was rather later on a Friday afternoon than usual when we finally got ourselves into Parker to record the cast. Stew had to jump halfway through, which was fine as Peter jumped in not too long before he went. also on the PHDcast this week is Lauren talking IAB and online measurement and regular Nic.


this week we’re talking about GPY&R’s success at the IAB Awards with their mobile medic campaign, and discuss the relative success of media versus creative agencies in this and other awards.

we also cover Adnews’ story on Group M’s big boss Dominic Procter, who argued last week that online’s data trail isn’t good enough to beat broadcast yet. we discuss the relative merits of online versus / and broadcast and valuing things because they are measurable.

in the wake of Thom Yorke’s pulling off of the Spotify platform because of the relative low subscription fee’s that make their way back to emerging artists, we discuss the music platform’s obligations and opportunities from a media and marketing perspective.

I also pick up the theme of collaboration following the panel discussion at B&T’s Innovation Afternoon at the start of the week. ramble away people, ramble away …


The Joys of Burberry: Inside Out Stores, a Menagerie of Content, Partnering with Google, and the Relaxation of Kiss-watching

so I stumbled across the above video whilst I was researching a project at the start of the week. I’d heard about Burberry’s new Flagship Store on Regent St before, but hadn’t taken the time to explore what they’d built. in the above video the brand’s Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey explains what the store is about:

“Burberry Regent St is really a kind of merging of our Burberry.com site … and a physical experience. everything that we do on Burberry.com if reflected here in this space … its a place that you can come just to hang out, its a place that you can come to kind of explore and understand all of the different things that we do … Art of the Trench, bespoke, Burberry Beauty … come and visit us, and I look  forward to hearing all of your comments”

Christopher Bailey, source – above video

it’s quite the achievement and investment. I’ve written on this blog before about a Regent St flagship when I described in a Feb 2009 post National Geographic’s store on the same street. I said at the time that:

“… the National Geographic Store is everything an interactive and engaging brand experience should be … an experience grounded not in the necessity to sell, but in the discovery and exploration of why that brand pertains to exist in the first place, and what that brand’s point of view on the world is; the concept and idea of that brand made manifest. everything, in short, that a retail space in the early 21st Century should be.”

Burberry’s store is in that tradition and more so. for starters, the idea of thinking web first and store second is easily said but rarely done. I don’t think its by accident that Bailey says that “everything we do on Burberry.com is reflected in this space”: not – note – the other way around. as Tom Uglow of Google said, “the future of digital is physical” (he said that here).

the second very future-facing aspect of Burberry’s approach is in many ways captured in the above video – and is reflected in the front and centre role that content plays in their strategy. if you’re in any doubt as to how ubiquitous Burberry’s content is, just check out this screen grab of their YouTube page:

Burberry YouTube

from fashion shows to advertising campaigns, taking in music sets and events on the way, its a menagerie of content that not only explicitly communicates what Burberry stands for and is producing; but implicitly communicates the design cues and high quality production quality of the brand.

an additional interesting aspect of this strategy is the extent to which Burberry are inviting comments and opinions. they are encouraging participation – careholding – of their brand.

content isn’t limited to video, a collaboration with Google sees the brand encourage people to send a digital kiss to anyone else in the world. Bailey (again) explains:

it’s all there again; the call for interaction and involvement, and – as the below screenshot from the site shows – sumptuous quality of execution. it is really rather relaxing watching live kisses fly across the world, I can highly recommend it.

burberry-kisses-hong kong

featured image via million looks


Cookie and Stream: How a re-targeted ad for NIB officially killed the segmentation

oh hello cookie

perhaps its because I’m a digital immigrant (first email send 1995 aged 18) but I’m still sometimes genuinely surprised and more than a little delighted at just how good our industry has become at what we do.

yesterday I was nosing around the NIB website looking at health insurance options.  I went there, by the way, as a result of word of mouth (thanks Nic) – about which the soon-to-be-released book Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom will observe that “ninety percent of brands recommended by [a WOM experimental family called] the Morgansons were purchased by every person who entered the family’s sphere”.  we truly buy because of what other people buy.

but I digress.  the point is that I was on the NIB website and started a quote but didn’t complete the application and happily moved on with my life.

until today.

when I was served with an ad for NIB whilst watching a YouTube clip (entirely, I may ad, unrelated to health insurance) … and exclaimed to twitterpod II and beyond that “I’ve just been re-targeted”.

which is a pretty stupid / obvious / unnecessary thing for a media planner of ten years to observe.

but exclaim I did.

the fact that NIB had furnished me with a cookie then streamed an ad right at me (frequency cap of three – I checked) still filled me with a pride that what we do not just awesomely works but, more importantly, is finally delivering on the long-held promise of a segmentation of one.

because the point is that I’m not in an NIB segmentation … or at least I certainly wasn’t targeted in the first instance as one (I sought them out).  digital media allows me to be in a segment of one – a segment called ‘Chris in Sydney who clicked but didn’t follow through for a quote on 27/9/11’.

the promise of digital planning is not just the volume (there are, according to Mashable, currently 17,031,375 of these segments in Australia alone*) but that these segments aren’t discrete.  they are networked.  and that means that they’re not segments at all.

they’re nodes.

at the moment I need to manually tell my network that I interacted with an ad for NIB, but that’s becoming – certainly for the super-sharers – a passive process.

and for high-interest categories that means that not only do you not need a segmentation, but that you have the potential to instigate hundreds of super-relevant networks around an idea or piece of content.

networks that self-create and spread, from nodes just like ‘Chris in Sydney who clicked but didn’t follow through for a quote on 27/9/11’ … like I said, you can’t help but be just a little bit delighted by that.

you can also be delighted by this … enjoy …

*online population of Australia


Living This Branded Life: The Opportunities and Pitfalls for Brands as Facebook leads the charge on branded verbs

This_branded_life_adidasthe evolution of the brand as demonstrated by adidas: branded products, adverts, content, conversations and now living

in the beginning was the thing.  and so that we could determine origin and provenance of the thing, there was the branded thing.  very soon after that businesses wanted to tell people about their things so they made ads, which were often of 30 seconds duration.  in time this branded content became as long as a movie, or even a permanent experiential space from which you could buy the product.  and then, at some point near the start of the 21st Century a curious thing happened.  brands went a step further and started branding our lives.

social media and brands go together like cookies and cream.  its impossible to discuss one without the other.  and so it was no surprise that amidst all the announcements of gestures and timelines and apps at facebook’s f8 developer conference – one of the biggest questions to emerge is what does this all mean for brands?

a cracking summary by Lucio Dias Ribiero of social media agency The Online Circle on Mumbrella noted that there are three main developments: (1) gestures – from now onwards, developers will have the power to create their own buttons (2) new apps – a new breed of social applications and ‘lifestyle apps’ which allow users to ‘read, watch and listen’ to media and (3) timeline – a scrapbook of your life as captured and curated by the Book.

Ribiero notes that the changes will allow brands to build their own customised buttons, and describes the significance the changes will mean for targeting:

“now that users can share what they are consuming (videos, news, music) through media partner applications, marketers can get mentions and give them wider distribution through sponsored stories – a new kind of behavioural advertising … These apps present brands with a completely new way of targeting Facebookers. Depending on what sort of content users are consuming, ads can be filtered and served accordingly”

the implications of this are far from insignificant and go much further than targeting.  by allowing brands to create customised buttons, facebook is leading the change on allowing brands to connect with and attach themselves to what we’re doing in an unprecedentedly tangible way.

and facebook are far from alone.  in fact (of all people) Aussie broadcasters are all over this … it’s hard to describe how much better Q&A is with the incorporation of observations that arrive in the studio via #qanda, but this week also saw Nine launch a live voting platform for WWOS that – via Vodafone’s Viewers’ Verdict Vote – allows viewers to take part in on-air discussions:

WWOS’s Vodafone’s Viewers Vote

and Leckie’s dramatic presentation last week included the announcement that SMG Red will be soon launching a mobile app / online platform that will allow viewers to check into programs – encouraging interaction with on-air content but also in conversations that extend beyond the content.  and brand-funded, SMGRed-hosted community that will be rewarded for interaction.

a branded life indeed.

to which our very last reaction should be surprise.  our lives have been well and truly branded for at least half a century if not considerably longer…  yet this is far from a challenge, we are at the threshold of the age of utility.  a wave of usefulness is about to crash over us, and I for one can’t wait.  no, the challenge – God love ’em – is for brands…

because if the world wasn’t complicated enough, it just got a whole lot more so.  post-f8, if you’re in charge of a brand,  you have to ask yourself if you want a branded facebook app that – via customised buttons – will allow people to share what they’re doing via you and your brand’s app.

of course for some brands this is easy.  if you’re a brand with a clear idea of why you exist and what activities, interests and passions you want to stimulate in the world its rather straight forward.  if you’re a brand with a clear ideas of what to be in your next ad, it’s almost impossible to answer.

ah, plus ça change … and yet a gloriously simple question for brands remains: with which verb does your brand want to be associated?


Thinking Beyond the Horizon: Why imagining the world in 2016 is more important and necessary than ever

2016: Beyond the Horizon | Mark Holden from PHD Worldwide on Vimeo.

it’s just after the joke about swallowing two micro chips for breakfast, that Mark observes that 1.2 billion are now socially networked, and are connected through technology in powerful and disruptive ways.  this is 2016: Beyond The Horizon – and it’s PHD’s view and perspective on how the world and our industry will change in the next five years.

re-watching this talk, uploaded to coincide with the launch of the 2016 book (available on Amazon with all proceeds going to Unicef), reminded of why this blog is called MEDIAtion.  its called MEDIAtion because it’s about negotiating between two sides of a war.

I used to think that it was a war between two factions – the old guard (The Empire) who want to maintain the status quo and defend existing business models, and the new media (The Rebels) who disregard existing business models and structures, imagining and building new ways to reach, engage and involve people in new, more innovative ways.

it was a compelling mental image of the situation, the Zuckerberg and Page/Brin-shaped Rebels taking on the Murdoch and Packer-sized Empire.

but I think I was wrong.

the war isn’t between two factions.

everyone wants to evolve and prosper through change.  we all of us want to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities of a life lived, as Telstra would say, in full colour.  no, this is not a war between factions – rather it is a war between times…

the war we are fighting, and in which this blog MEDIAtes … is a war between the past and the future.

a past that traps and conforms us.  a past that forces pragmatism, and comforts us with sentiments like ‘that is how its done’ and ‘don’t worry it works like this’.  a past that not only stops us changing, but stops us wanting to change.

but change isn’t something that happens to us.  rather change is something that we make happen.  and that’s why 2016 is so important…  if we are to change, if we and the brands in our collective care are to prosper, then we need to imagine, articulate and understand where we are going.

and change accordingly.

this is the ambition of 2016.  this is the promise of PHD.  this is why I am on board.

we are all of us Rebels, we have only to choose to rebel.

me being on board…


A tale of two logos: what GAP and MySpace can tell us about the power of identity

what's in a logo?  quite a lot according to the thousands of people who rushed to condemn GAP's logo redesign.  the size and ferocity of the sentiment seems – surprisingly – to have caught GAP off guard, to the extent that their U-turn is now fully complete and the new logo has been abandoned.

which is just as well, because it really IMHO isn't very good.  retrospective, ordinary, old, etc etc etc … what's more important than my personal feelings about the logo is the observation that GAP seemingly (1) thought that the logo was any good and that (2) they showed it to the world without a great deal more thought and planning.

that said, skeptical me instantly wants to put this in the category of New Coke, that organisation's ill-fated attempt to reformulate a formula that was far from broken and which I and a great many other people are convinced was a stunt to get people to collectively and publicly acknowledge their support and love for Coke.

I'm tempted to think that the above effort by the GAP aimed to achieve the same.  deep down, people really rather like the GAP but they're just not very forthcoming in saying it these days.  launching a crappy new logo is a perfect way to galvanise sentiment in the brand's favour.  and if the current corporate guys need to take a (perceived) hit to do remind people how much they love GAP then it's a small price to pay.

in other breaking news, MySpace have just redesigned their logo too.  check this out…

now a lot of people don't like this.

I love it.

I really really really do.


a post on the eBrand site describes how "the new logos are not live yet, but the site has demonstrated it at the Warm Gun Design conference … [MySpace] elaborated on the idea saying that it plans to use the blank space in the logo to display artwork by remaining MySpace users. The artwork will only appear when individuals place their mouse cursor over the blank space though."

it goes on to quote MySpace VP of User Experience Mike Macadaan: "MySpace is a platform for people to be whatever they want, so we have decided to give them the space to do it."

what I love is that the new logo is not the logo of a social network.  it's mine.  it's whatever I want to do with it.  that's a very powerful statement for a logo to make.  moreover, its a statement that is derived from the truth of what the MySpace site is.  it certainly has more credibility than the announcement earlier this year that MySpace was the site for discovery…

"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 at an event in April highlighted projects from the network that are "allowing people to get Discovered".

but my favourite thing about this logo is that it can only exist in the 21st Century.  this logo can only exist when the predominant means of accessing MySpace is digital (which of course it is), but it can't fully exist in a static image, and it certainly can't exit in the written word.  it has to live digitally, it has to be interacted with… a participative logo for the participation age.

both these tales – of Gap and my_____ (see what I mean?) – are potent reminders of the importance of identity.  too quickly and too often a brand or business attempts to reinvent itself with a new identity / logo.  but that's a bit like a friend who used to be cool and interesting but who now doesn't really go out much or have anything interesting to say, putting on a new t-shirt and expecting you to think they're cool and interesting again.  they're not.  they're just wearing a new t-shirt.

identities – and specifically logos – are not sticking plasters that you can change at will.  rather they are a key and important part of a brand's identity which, at their best, say a great deal more about that brand that simply what brand it is.  if this new MySpace identity holds – and I really hope that it does – it will say more about that social network than any positioning statement will.  logos with actions, it turns out, speak louder than logos with words.


Seeing the wood thru the trees: why a complicated world demands resolute focus on the basics

Ultimate_online_blueprint I love and hate this.  its a brilliant systematic of the various roles and capabilities of online / digital communications and how they can integrate.  found it on keatster55's Flickr page courtesy of here's the thing.

I love it because it rather elegantly captures – as keatster55 puts it – "how all on-line and off-line channels can be fully integrated and
connected to the Web site to ensure that highly targeted and relevant
user journeys can be achieved based on how much we know about the user
and the channel that has referred them to the Web site".  its all good thinking and its all very clearly put together and, well its all good.

but I get really nervous that it disguises what's really going on.  in the maelstrom of measurement and online consumer journey tracking and hourly advances in online media capabilities there's the danger that we forget what we're trying to do…  in short, engage people with brands, and more specifically (if you're lucky) with the ideas to which those brands pin their colours.

we need to make sure that our ideas don't get lost in the blueprints of our increasingly complex media infrastructures.  make sure that a response rate for a new online creative idea being lower than the previous executions doesn't (automatically) kill the idea.

there is – of course – a simple way thru; which is to keep resolutely focused on who we want to talk to, and what the idea is that we want to engage them with.  and indeed what we'd want them to say to each other and back to us having been presented with our ideas…  its the wood – and we need to be sure we can still see it through an increasingly complex set of trees.


Robot Galaxy: because cool toys want to play both off and online

Aboard GALAXY I, you can create virtual Robots in the Arsenal, as well
as play games in the Training Deck and Battle Station. There are two
ways to build a Robot: 1) Virtually or 2) Modeled after your Robot
purchased at ROBOTGALAXY stores. You can also go to our e-store to purchase a Robot resembling your online avatar.

If you already own a SUPERSONIC FUEL CELL, connect your Robot's USB
cable to the computer before going online. Once connected, you can
either program your robot for the first time or receive new robot
downloads as your Robot advances in rank aboard GALAXY I.

Your Commander

is it me or is it every kids dream to get an email like this?  trendcentral has pointed us in the direction of a new offline / online / toy / game / story in the form of Robot Galaxy…  the trend central article explains it all better than I would:

"Not only are the
robots customized to each boy's specifications, but each one also has a
life online, offering boys a virtual world experience similar to those
so popular with tween girls, such as Webkinz and Club Penguin.

While at
the store, boys select from eight different robot characters from the
ROBOTGALAXY comic book series, subsequently building and "programming"
their choice as they wish. They then move on to a computer center,
known as the Lab, where the robots are connected to the online world
via USB cable; users then create an avatar for and register each in the
ONLINE GALAXY virtual world.

Once home, robot owners can play games
within the world and the higher the scores, the more light patterns,
sound effects, and phrases their physical robot will download."

so essentially… kids get to join up play in the real and online worlds, and get to share those experiences with other kids online.  social play in every sense.  but the best bit for me is that the advertising strategy is double genius.

one, it has consumer-to-consumer communication at it's heart.  kids will talk to other kids about this, and the fact that it's inherently competitive (blast those robots etc) means that there's always new communications to be had.

but the second bit of genius is how storytelling lies at the heart of the marketing strategy.  comics explain who the robots are and who they're battling, but as the project moves forward these will become free media to introduce new characters, models, ranges and stories.  stories that kids will want to engage with and then develop on their own terms both on and off line.  screwball scrabble was just never this cool.


Wanting to win: happy birthday Google

how things have changed.  to mark their 10th birthday Google has opened up its oldest-available search index, and its fascinating stuff.  as the Google website observes: "The world wide web and the
world have both changed a lot since 2001. Searching Google's 2001 index
illustrates both points in what we think is a pretty entertaining way.

you searched on 'Michael Phelps' in 2001 for instance, you were
probably looking for the scientist, not the swimmer. 'Ipod' didn't
refer to a music player, and 'YouTube' didn't refer to much of

it's a timely reminder that the pace of change is showing no sign of stopping soon…  the media landscape is barely recognisable from the one I first saw when I started working in this industry in 2001, the same year from which the above index comes.

media, in many ways, is an arms race…  in which the winner is determined as much by those who have the best ideas as those who want to have the best ideas.  if there is any lesson from Google it is this; success comes not just aiming, but from wanting, to win.


MTV’s dilemma: when media brands enter the long tail of online social networks

another week, and Mediation observes another brand embarking on an online social networking adventure.  BrandRepublic yesterday reported that MTV is “launching a social networking site called MTV House, which will allow members to interact with each other using avatars and take part in competitions and promotions”.  we’ve been here before, in April HMV announced a similar venture.  good luck to them.

I’m just not convinced that people will join brand-led online social networks (or OSN as I’m already bored of typing it)… and if they do, the offering will remain niche – the people who join will need to be really into that brand.  a quick survey of Mediation’s office (20-30 year old Londonites) generated 30 respondents who between them consider themselves to be part of (one or more of) thirteen online social networks – from Facebook to secret member-only DJ sites (10% didn’t belong to any online social network).


Sites ranked by claimed membership – most to least (27 respondents): sites with one claimed membership: bebo, Flickr, LastFM, Small World, MSN Spaces, YouTube Pownce, MakeTheTea.com and a secret DJ club

now this isn’t statistically robust, but let’s run with it.  the average respondent belongs to 1.6 social networks.  but, unsurprisingly, when ranked by site with most to least claimed membership, they form a long tail distribution, with a minority of sites accounting for the vast majority of members.  this at least demonstrates the potential for smaller niche OSNs to exist, but if you’re stuck in the tail its an expensive way for a brand to aggregate and entertain what is a niche audience.

all brands – and especially media brands – have to ask themselves what business they’re in.  non media brands should avoid this area like the plague.  but media brands face a much tougher call… MTV – like any media brand – is an aggregator, but is MTV in the content or audience aggregation business?

if difficult to argue against investment in the creation of their own OSN if they commit to being the latter (after all they should follow their audience as they migrate to joint TV / Online viewing), but financially they’d be better off in investing in the creation of applications which capitalised on the dedicated OSN that already exist.

on the plus side they’d get access to a much larger audience for a lower cost, but on the down side they couldn’t as easily generate a return on that investment thru commercial selling of that audience to advertisers.  instead MTV’s presence on existing online social networks would be a means of navigating audiences to MTV’s commercial spaces.

its a tough call… but becoming a bit-player in the tail of online social network offerings is a place this angel would fear to tread.