Archive for February, 2013

Twitter by candlelight

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Did you have a romantic Valentine’s Day?  Did it go to plan or were all your dreams and hopes crushed ?

My love life is perfectly intact but my plans didn’t exactly pan out.  I don’t like going out for Valentine’s Day but I had planned a nice home cooked dinner (Spag Bol but with Buffalo mince (no horse) to be precise), oven roasted butternut squash and celeriac mix followed by a red velvet cake.

At 6pm we had a power cut.  Just like the 1970s.  No stove, no TV, no lights, no oven, no hot water and no heating. 

In every other respect my evening was nothing like the winter of discontent.

iPad operational I found the UK Power Networks website and was invited to tweet them for updates.

Their response was very comforting.  Instead of just sitting in the dark not knowing what was going on, I at least had the feeling that Mike and Dave  @UKPowerNetworks were paying some attention to my plight.

Then up came a neighbour – hitherto unknown to me – @carriesparkle and said “Hello, I’m without power too. Whereabouts are you? I’m on the Estate and both cold and hungry.”  After a bit of banter with Carrie (can’t even go out to eat because its Valentine’s Day and restaurants full of “romantic” couples) another unknown neighbour @azeem joined the conversation saying : “I see you and @fhuszar are both having power outages in NW2”.  Turns out all three neighbours are in the comms business in one way or another.  No longer was I sitting lonely, hungry and cold in the dark.  Customer service from UK Powernetworks were at hand with cheery updates, and there was a community spirit going around in the local virtual world.  As well as my new acquaintances, I also heard from @battylala and @durranimix (thanks for the cheery comments people).

Lights came back on at 935 pm, just after we’d given up hope of home cooking and ordered pizza. 

So Twitter was both a great customer service tool, and a community building vehicle.   As @brucedaisley said “what an amazing episode”.

Twitter by candlelight – highly recommended in case of emergency, keep your iPad charged.

What on earth do you wear to a Disrupterthon ?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

I went to my first “Disrupterthon” last week.  When I told one colleague that this was where I was going, she said that that was how she considered every meeting that I was in.  (I’m sure that’s flattering if you think very positively about it).


This was a TV Disrupterthon run by the British Screen Advisory Council with some excellent guest speakers including Claire Enders, David Abraham, John Gisby from Magine and Group M’s Jakob Nielsen.


The debate was framed as a way of exploring what the Black Swan’s of TV would be and how and when they’d hit us.


Notably David Abraham welcomed us to a world of change, to the “meta connected data world” where one in three 16-24s have signed up to hand over their data to C4.  C4 are training a generation of viewers to interact with VOD ads in a mould breaking fashion. Equally notably Claire Enders gave us the view that it is women over 40 who drive UK culture (outside gaming), and that therefore on mainstream TV things would be slow to change.


Both views have their merits of course.  But true disruption will come from one of two sources in my view.  It is possible that the consumer will lead true disruption because they will adopt a new way of consuming TV content at scale.  Given that fairly heritage ways of watching TV content continue to grow and let’s face it to satisfy, this would depend on a real swing in technology and indeed rights distribution.     The second form of disruption will come from a disruption in heritage trading practices.  This is long overdue and indeed necessary for longterm growth.  For this it would be good to have two developments please.  We are indeed entering a world of big data of all kinds.  More and more granular information will be available to give insight into what is and what is not working.  What we still don’t have is a single audience rating measurement to feed into modelling versus sales across media to drive a simple solution to how everything works.  The second development is a move towards a shared risk trading model, not as an exception but as a mainstream choice for clients.


Time to kill the “unique”?

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Q: When is a unique visitor not a unique visitor ? 

A: Most of the time.

Which as my mother would put it is a bit like saying that you are a bit pregnant.

Unique visitors to websites remains a metric that is commonly used to understand the flow of audience and the success of online content particularly for brand advertising and when ecommerce is secondary or irrelevant to objectives.

These days however a unique visitor metric is not truly unique to an individual in the way that it used to be, so that once again we are measuring things that don’t properly reflect reality. 

If you see a great poster that drives you to a website you may well act immediately, whip out your mobile phone and access it straight away.  That’s one unique visit.  However, it may be that you find that the site requires more involvement that you can manage on the go as it were, so you wait till you get back to your desk and go to the site on your laptop to have a good browse of its content.  That’s unique visit number two.  But just then your boss calls you in to a meeting, so don’t get to really spend time on this very good site until you get home in the evening and go to it on your ipad.  Unique number three.

Three unique visits.  One person.  And no simple way of knowing or agreed industry factor for whether the three visits are one person, or two or three (unless you have registered with and used Chrome in which case Google know).  Now all those visits are very welcome (its not Royston Vasey after all) but it would be really useful to know them a bit better.

Does it matter ?  Aside from the fact that it is an appalling mis-use of language, it matters because we are measuring and predicting success in a way that does not match up with the return on investment.  Planning of a repeat reach based campaign on line may well be based on unique visitors (in the way that it was last year) while the reality of the ratio of unique visitors to how many people you’re really getting as paying customers has changed fundamentally simply after the “tablet Christmas” we have just had.

The reality of uniques to real individuals will depend massively on the type of content and the type of person. A 35 year old ABC1 man with a smart phone, ipad and laptop is not going to behave in the same way of course as a 65 year old C2 housewife who logs on to Facebook on a pc once a week to catch up with her grandchildren. The entertainment category will not generate the same behaviour as snack food.  How much it matters will depend on the kpi of the campaign (if you’re selling a DVD,  so long as enough people buy it, it may not matter how many uniques your campaign attracted, but if you’re trying to change consideration in a category then the tracking of that awareness versus your planned campaign may be change significantly).

There are ways through the data of course.  Yet unique visitors are not what they were or even what they ever claimed to be.  Let’s just get rid of the terminology before we start making too many decisions based on a dodgy metric. At MediaCom we’re changing how we make visitors accountable, but surely it is not beyond the wit and wisdom of our industry to develop a better general measure to drive industry growth in a sustained way.