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

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buying, debating, phdcast

PHDcast – The Letter D and Number 92 Episode: Departures, Diets and Discounts in Medialand

the PHDcast this week is brought to you by the letter D and the number 92. D stands for Dieting, as Pink Media announces a partnership between Fitness First and Mardi Gras; Departures, as Kyle and Jackie announce their departure from SCA’s airwaves and Discounts, as Adnews reports talk of an unprecedented 92% discount being offered by a media agency.

the discount, alleged to be on TV rates, marks an escalation in a bidding war that is arguably as old as media departments and then agencies themselves. but a perfect storm in recent years has seen a potent mix of procurement driving down client costs, an over-serviced marketplace, and the consolidation of holding groups (which increases buying power placing pressure on media owners).

that potent mix has resulted in run-away discounting and the radical commoditisation of media impacts … and they’re just the direct implications. the indirect implications spin into agency client resourcing, the extent to which media thinking and ideas are valued, media owner revenues (so ultimately impacting quality of broadcast content), and transparency and media neutrality … as agencies are forced to explore other higher margin areas to off-set the margin losses in the core business. I could go on.

so how do we stop the runaway train on which we find ourselves? one of the key problems is that everyone is implicated … everyone has something to gain from the current storm and much to lose by any attempted unravelling.

the money starts with clients. they’ve never had it so good from a CPM perspective … with agencies falling over RFPs to buy media cheaper (and cheaper media). questions of media quality become secondary to cost-saving and value extraction. their walk-away is to pay more for a supplier’s product – which would be brave by anyone’s standards.

from an agency’s perspective, guaranteeing radical discounts rates keeps and gets clients’ billings in the door which maintains the platform for value extraction with media owners on one hand and clients on the other. their walk-away is to explain that a price is as low as they can go and decline the businesses – another brave call given the demands for any major agency and group to demonstrate growth.

the money (in theory) ends up with a media owner … they are the ones at the sharp end of the deal but its a deal in which they’ve had no choice to be complicit. for them to put on the brakes could cost them 20-30% of revenues if a major buying group turns off the taps (a move for which there are precedents in other markets).

it’s stalemate.

of course my question on how we stop the train has an implicit assumption … that everyone wants to. I’m not naive enough to think for a second that everyone is sat bemoaning media buying’s current conundrum. ultimately the only reason the stalemate exists is that enough businesses are making enough money for it to be sustained.

new models already no doubt exist and will emerge. necessity is the mother of invention … in which case I can’t think that the need for inventors has ever been greater.

to be continued …

PHDcast011113

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awarding

The Engines of Objectivity: Media Awards Shows … and the necessity of the Faustian pact by which we are judged

another week another round of award entering and ceremony attending. or at least so it seems. this week’s PHDcast is a debrief from last week’s MFA Awards … we discuss the events of the night, the winners, the fall out, and the very point of awards themselves. what exactly, are awards good for anyway?

the growth in local and international awards reflects the fragmentation of media itself. here in Australia we have the Mumbrella Awards, B&Ts, Adnews, and of course the MFAs from last week. regionally you get the Spikes, Campaign Asia, but also Festival of Media … and globally Cannes, the Internationalist, (more) Spikes and Festival of Media … I could go on (there’s a rich seam of digital awards to mine I haven’t touched on), but the point is I think made, that award entering could pretty much be a full-time job.

the growth extends to more categories within an individual award platform; each year see’s more and more categories at Cannes, and the MFAs this year had an additional two categories in which contenders could do their thing.

all this means more resource in agencies to fuel the fire of award entering and competing – a point very elegantly made by Zenith’s Ian Perrin in a guest post on Mumbrella back in August. in the rather provocatively entitled ‘Let’s end the awards obsession and stop putting our dollars in the hands of publishers’, Perrin referred to a conversation with a CMO, who commented:

“I am so sick to death of being asked to submit our work into bloody award festivals that nobody has ever heard of, or cares about. If I went into a board presentation and declared that we had won a bronze in a Tasmanian advertising awards festival, I would be fired on the spot. And yet all my agencies seem to care about is entering these awards” he said. “Who cares if the Tasmanian’s loved my print ad, when I still have stock on the shelf at Coles?”

unnamed prominent and influential CMO

the comment thread (bitching a trolling aside), pretty much gets to the nub of the issue: award shows are big business … EMAP, which bought the Cannes Advertising Festival (now the Cannes Festival of Creativity) in 2004 and manages it under it’s i2i brand, last year returned to profit in no small part due to the healthy return it generates from the event and others like it.

“The star performer has been events division i2i grew revenues about 10% year on year in the first half to £71m, thanks to its Spring Fair retail event at the NEC centre and advertising event Cannes Lions in France, with underlying earnings up 16% to £33m. The division accounts for half of Top Right’s revenues and 70% of underlying profits.”

source, the Guardian, July 2012

70% of underlying profits coming from events. that’s probably something that isn’t too far from the reality of a lot of former publishers (I say former as many have now well and truly diversified their businesses and incomes to combat the decline of print ad revenues – no more elegantly than Mumbrella). awards are a pretty good way for publishers to make money, so what’s ultimately in it for agencies?

well rather a lot …

a showcase for the work, the work, the work (as one agency puts it). and not just the work you would like to be rewarded and acknowledged but rather the work that has been peer reviewed by your industry colleagues, which leads to:

acknowledgement of the results you are delivering for your clients … awards are tangible demonstrations of how an agency is helping clients grow their brands and generate return for their investment in your strategies and ideas, which leads to:

a reputation for thinking and work that is, crucially, acknowledged by your peers. you don’t just say you rock – you have a subjective benchmark to say just how much you do, actually, rock. which in theory leads to:

getting onto more pitch lists, clients respect your thinking and want to explore how you can deliver for their brand and business. so awards are ultimately (of course) about growing your business.

we’re not, I think, alone. across other industries in which the success or outcome of the product is inherently subjective (design, architecture, literature) awards are prevalent. awards are like objective engines … transforming the subjectivity of opinion into tangibility of proof. of course they’re still essentially subjective (the Effies perhaps aside), but not all subjectivity is, I suppose, created equal.

and so we’re left with a rather Faustian pact; publishers build the engines of objectivity that agencies need … and we feed them. relentlessly.

which is no bad thing … especially in an awards platform like the MFAs, throughout which (as entrant, judge, and attendee) I’ve seen nothing but professionalism and careful consideration and judgement. indeed they have created and been the forum for important debates – like the one Nic and Stew describe from their judging room (in the PHDcast above). and you also get to have a bit of fun on awards night.

so a big congrats again to all the winners, especially team PHD for their ANZ nomination and PepsiCo win, Steady for his induction into the MFA Hall of Fame and Initiative for their Grand Prix win. you can view all the winners here. see you next year for more of the same.

MFA Awards 2013 1

MFA Awards 2013 2

MFA Awards 2013 3

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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

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applicationing, broadcasting, marketing, phdcast, searching, social media-ising

PHDcast 05.07.13: Qantas, Nissan, Transmedia, #nametheshow, AltaVista and I explain what Grindr is

player not working? click here to listen on audioboo

this week on the PHD cast I’m joined by Emma Glazier, Lauren Oldham and Peter Hunter to talk all things digital – up first is Qantas partnering with the Wallabies (and Bing) to create content for the Lions’ Tour against the Wallabies.

more content courtesy of Nissan and Mamma Mia, with the car manufacturer using regular contributors to the site to create content / advertorial / adverts for the site. perhaps not great viewed through the lens of branded content, but full marks for customising advertising for the site’s readers.

we also talk about author Goran Racic’s transmedia approach to marketing his new book Loud Evolution.

talking to Mashable, the author explained that:

“I write about video games and new technology all the time. And after covering that area for so long, I started to notice the unique way that different organizations — especially video games — distribute things,” he says. “A lot focus heavily on DLCs [downloadable content] and different expansions, so I thought, ‘Why couldn’t my book be like that?’ When you have something in digital form, you can really go in whichever direction you’d like … In this day and age, there’s so much more you can do to tell a story.”

Goran Racic, source

if that wasn’t enough we talk about the response to Ten’s morning show’s (a recurring theme on the PHDcast) effort to get people to suggest a title for the show. kudos to Ten for carrying on regardless with a stiff upper lip and a smile in the face of the banter …

Ten name the show tweets

source, @TenMornings

also the demise of AltaVista – more on that here – and I explain what Grindr is in light of the revelation that the most popular app at Cannes was the gay dating (yeah let’s stick with dating) app.

who’d have thought?

your PHDcast crew is below … catcha next week

PHDcast 05.07.13

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broadcasting, debating, measuring, phdcast, social media-ising

PHDcast 28.06.13: Elections, Twitter, Hildebrand joins Ten’s Breakfast Show, hello EMMA, and Smelling the Coffeee

player not working? click here to listen via audioboo

another Friday (almost) means another PHDcast from PHD Australia

in the week that saw Australia wake up with a new Prime Minister, we talk about the social / broadcast media interaction that played out on Wednesday night. how could and should broadcast media keep pace with fast-moving events as the play out on twitter? and what is the role for brands in events like this?

there are also implications for media investment on TV and other channels, with airtime around the election becoming scarce. I spoke with our own Maree Cullum to get her advice for clients on how to help their campaigns weather the election storm.

joe-hildebrand_adam-boland

above pic via news.com.au

also this week Channel Ten announced that Joe Hildebrand is joining the line up for Adam Boland’s new morning show on the channel. we talk about the challenge and opportunity for Ten’s new morning show, and the context and situation for breakfast television in general.

if that wasn’t enough, we get into the ‘can / should media owners produce ads for clients?’, the Readership Works introduces us to Emma – the name of their soon to be launched readership survey, and evaluate the plan to pump the smell of coffee into cinemas for Nescafe Blend 43.

Stew wrote an article for B&T which you can read here – props to Stew for that and for getting olfactory signifyers into the PHDcast conversation …

here are the glasses-tastic Toby, Nic and Chris – your podcast team today with the exception of Stew, who missed the photo opp and Maree who’s Melbs – that’s it … catcha next week for more PHDcast

PHDcast pic 28.06.13

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adserving, applicationing, innovating, listening, phdcast, planning, programmatic buying

PHDcast 31.05.13: Programmatic Buying, How Superman Shaves and Tumblr

PHDcast for Mediation 470lots of fun on the PHDcast last week as Stew and Nic and I were joined by some awesome people from PHD Australia’s team digital. Peter Hunter and Lauren Oldham joined us to talk everything from programmatic buying to Gillette’s YouTubey Man Of Steel activation.

first up, programmatic buying. B&T quotes eMarketer who suggest that: “more than a quarter of all display-ad spending in the U.S. will occur via real-time auctions by 2016. Spending is predicted to increase from US$1.9bn in 2012 to more than US$7bn to make up 28% of total display-ad buying by the end of that year.”

great debate from the team, the main upshot of which was that programmatic buying will soon be how we predominantly buy ‘traditional’ online, with content moving even further up the online food chain, becoming of fundamental importance as online real-estate for brands.

a key implication is that it allows the conversations we have with our media owner partners to move on and focus on what, arguably, is the core point of those relationships – ideas, collaboration and creative use of media.

the other main implication is for those big traditional (broadcast) media owners who, as they mediate the future of their own media platforms, will see PB encroach on how they trade with agencies. whilst some broadcasters are already experimenting with DSP technology, its something that is unlikely to happen overnight. inertia aside, I genuinely believe that as revenues fragment across different channels, making PB work will become a strategic imperative, rather than an interesting inconvenience to broadcasters.

also this week, Gillette are exploring how exactly Superman shaves? a great activation on the brands’ YouTube channel has geeky celebrities proposing how they think the Man Of Steel shaves. awesome activation – will be even more so if the team involved find a way to amplify the content into broadcast.

gillette how does he shave

also this week an awesome app from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that allows you to use their data to explore the opinions and attitudes of people in your (or any) suburb and town across the nation.

oh, and that US$1.1bn purchase by Yahoo! of Tumblr. The Hunter observes that, when looked at from a data perspective, Yahoo! have essentially paid $4 each for the records of 300,000,000 active users – which makes it quite the bargain. whether it’s enough for the somewhat ailing Yahoo! remains to be seen.

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