collaborating, gamifying, gaming, pioneering

The Great Game: Of Paradigms, Creativity and Intrinsic Rewards … Lessons and Musings on the Joys of Gamification

the above awesome video is Jane McGonigal’s presentation to Cannes this year, at which Jane explored how we can harness the power of games to solve real-world problems and boost global happiness. Jane is introduced by PHD’s very own Mark Holden, who was inspired by Jane’s book to add a game layer to our global operating system, Source.

it’s been a genuine pleasure to have been involved in not just the development of Source over the last two years, but more recently being able to help lead the charge for the great gamification in the Australia. we’ve written a book called Game Change (available on Amazon from January) which explores the background, history and current context of gamification … and at the start of this month in conjunction with Mumbrella we facilitated a Gamification masterclass …

the amazingness of Colin Cardwell of 3rd Sense and Marigo Raftopoulos of the Strategic Games Lab led sessions which walked the assembled masterclass crowd through approaches, strategies and tactics for gamifying their own businesses or marketing efforts. whilst Colin and Marigo were talking I was struck by several things:

first up, and this is a point made brilliantly by Jane in the above presentation, gamification is genuinely a new paradigm in how we work. in his book The Play Ethic, Pat Kane suggests that “Play will be to the 21st century what work was to the Industrial Age – our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value” … the potential is huge – if we unlock even a fraction of the engagement currently spent on play to create shared human value the effects could be genuinely transformative.

the second though that occurred to me is that like any great project a problem well defined is a problem half solved. similarly when gamifying (I’ll call it G from here on in) a process, you need to be crystal clear on what your business and / or marketing objective is … applying G shares many of the same considerations and questions that a conventional approach to tackling a brief requires – don’t forget the basics.

Marigo and Colin both made clear the point that the process of G comprises around 10% design and 90% iteration. I was struck by the parallels in the efforts of game design and how marketing efforts work in a post-digi, content socialised age. in a reversal of the broadcast model (90% effort crafting the message, 10% effort towards shouting it as loud as possible), G requires that your projects have a beta sensibility (PHD’s Source is still in beta despite being live for almost a year) – think always on, always listening, always redeveloping, always creating, always deploying.

focus on what the ‘desired target behaviours’ are … what do you actually want people to do as a result of your gamification efforts? being really clear on this helps you navigate the mechanics that you look to bring to bear on a project or process.

G isn’t a replacement for an idea. the best examples of G often have an awesome, smart, idea at the heart of them. think the speed camera lottery or Jay-Z’s decoded (below) … in both these cases G isn’t a replacement for two awesome ideas – rather it was the approach that allowed the ideas to flourish. creativity counts.

the final thought that occurred to me was that when you think about the rewards you offer when gamifying a process, intrinsic beats extrinsic. always. perhaps it’s the Spotify Christmas playlist that I’m listening to as I write this, but G is a reminder that we are generally much more motivated by intrinsic forces (for the love of doing something) than we are by extrinsic rewards (eg payment) … yeah we can offer some dollars here or a prize there, but what really gets us humans going is a cause or task – no matter how audacious – that we can care about.

which gives us something to ponder between the mice pies and sprouts … whether its adding value rather than demanding attention (or as John Willshire would say ‘making things people want not making people want things’), designing utility, or creating communications that are as responsive and relevant as each and every user they reach – what does intrinsic thinking … intrinsic marketing look like when its radically embraced by marketing and communications.

speaking of intrinsic rewards, I’ll leave you with the first seven seconds of the below Mumbrella Hangout with me, Tim and Mark Holden. wait for it … “and we’re live”.

Merry Christmas everyone

advertising, branding, commenting, content creating, marketing, planning

From ZERO to Hero: its Joseph Jaffe versus the world as he shares his theory on surviving the Mediocalypse

“In a perfect world, the optimal paid media would be zero”

and there you have it. in sixteen short syllables Joseph Jaffe yesterday laid the gauntlet to, well, everyone.

in a Mumbrella Hangout with Tim and Nick, Jaffe took aim and didn’t hesitate in pulling the trigger as he took on the concept of paid media, it’s media agency proponents, media owner benefactors and client conspirators – all of whom are collectively woefully unprepared for the coming mediocalypse (that last word is totes all mine fyi).

Jaffe’s alternative vision is ZERO – a word that serves the dual purpose of being, in Jaffe’s opinion, the target investment a brand should make in paid media … and also an acronym for the elements that make up Jaffe’s counter theory … Zealots, Entrepreneurship, Retention and Owned assets (not media).

to say all this is brand new territory would be a stretch, but to say that it’s rarely been delivered with such zeal is not. Jaffe gleefully takes on Sorrell (“self-serving”), media owners (“complacency and mediocrity are not causes to be able to keep your job. being also to achieve … objectives and demonstrate proven value-add and utility and return on investment is a cause to keep your job”) and clients (“morons”). by the time Clive Burcham of The Conscience Organisation joins the conversation the platform is well and truly burning and we may as well all just run for the hills.

it’s easy to line up against Jaffe’s argument and theory: Ehrenberg Bass’ analysis would tackle the importance of Zealots, Entrepreneurship doesn’t offer the guarantee of exposure, success and ultimately growth that shareholders demand of businesses; on ‘Retention is the new Acquisition’ you can pick your counter-play, and there’s no client worth their salt that hasn’t developed and deployed an Owned asset strategy and plan. but here’s the thing … Jaffe is right.

the 30 second-shaped solution is to predominant. the ad venture is coming to an end. agencies and clients aren’t co-conspiring to create sufficient entrepreneurship and innovation. media is commoditised, and media thinking is undervalued. clients customers have become more important than their consumers, and despite billions of dollars of effort the scarcest commodity in the world remains human attention.

run for the hills indeed.

but despite Jaffe’s verging into hubris, he offers some wonderfully salient and sensible advice. his assertion that “the vision of ZERO is to move from being a tenant to a landlord” is a nicely articulated vision for how brands should increasingly approach their media planning; the idea of a “customer-employee ecosystem empowered by technology” makes total sense; that we should be advising our clients on how to redress the balance of their direct to indirect (media) investment is absolutely right; and to ask “why are we paying for attention, when we should be paying attention” is good enough to put on the t-shirt (should that be your inclination).

whatever side of the debate you’re on, you can’t deny that our negotiation of media’s future is the better for having Jaffe’s voice in the chorus. there will be heroes and outlaws aplenty in the coming mediocalypse, which one Jaffe turns out to be will be decided first by your perspective, and then by history.

PS if you want to skip to a couple of highlights in the above video jump to 13:17 to hear Tim deploy Nick to search for someone who has tattooed toilet paper onto themselves with the immortal words “Nick, to the Google …” or 13:44 to see’s Tim‘s earnest nodding and eyebrow raise at the news of Charmin’s acquisition of website ‘sit or squat’

debating, publishing, thinking

What is your business models? … Because having one may quite simply no longer be enough


so I took some time last night to walk a few yards up Kent St to hear not one but two Tim’s in conversation at one of The Domain’s regular ‘on the couch’ sessions. Tim Addington didn’t hold back in an interviewing with Tim Burrowes that covered the origins of Mumbrella to its existence without Burrowes, taking in trolling, #skyfail and Adnews swiping on the way.

I wanted to ask Tim (B) about one of Mediation’s more recurring themes of late – journalism, news and print media; and more specifically the dangers of continuing to think of them as one and the same thing, especially as shifts in ad media revenues put pressure on the existing business model.

I made the point to Tim that journalism was important (to society), and asked how he thought we could and should protect journalism as news organisation revenues continue to come under threat?

his answer, typically to the point, was that some journalism will go. fact. and that over time – decades not years – the industry will realign and settle as new models emerge. he identified three for starters … (1) the vertical interest model (2) the conversation model and (3) the philanthropy model.

his points, that (one) journalism will survive because new models will emerge and (2) that new models will emerge, got me thinking this morning whilst talking to a senior media executive, as we discussed innovation in businesses esp. with regard to digital. the observation was that business models have to evolve, but it occurred to me that this didn’t have to be at an industry level – what would a business look like with completely different, distinct and differentiated business models working under the same roof, or P&L, or holding company?

perhaps the key question in surviving the ride of change wrought by digitisation isn’t ‘what is your business model? … but what is your business models?

I’ve tried to think of examples close to home and further afield of businesses and companies that deliberately cultivate different businesses models under the same roof. there are examples of companies that take a business model into new categories (Virgin obviously), and examples of parallel business models in different categories (Jetstar and Aldi). you also get examples of very different revenue streams under one roof – media agencies are a great example. but there aren’t a whole load of decent examples (that I can think of) where fundamentally different and potentially opposing models co-exist under the same roof.

it may be that once the most successful business model emerges, a company is crazy not to divert all resources in that direction – but perhaps that’s the trap? perhaps success is in not being single minded? perhaps tolerating lower margins and revenues on one floor this year means being ready to maximizing the potential of new revenues when the world turns in your direction next year?

many media organisations are already doing this by necessity … but how difficult would it be to make it a choice. if you’re lucky enough to have margins that allow you to experiment, why on earth wouldn’t you go as far as you possibly could when doing so?

Tim is right – different models will emerge. winning tomorrow shouldn’t be like a gamble at the races, where you hope your business has done enough of the right research (and a tad of luck) to back the winning horse (model). instead don’t play the game of trying to pick the winning horse, have a stake in every one.

you couldn’t lose right?

featured image lol created here, where you can also vote for it. obvs.