Archive for November, 2014

Tighter Targeting Doesn’t Mean Better Persuasion

Monday, November 24th, 2014

“The weakness of modern strategy is that it is too reliant on technology.  The triumph of accuracy of outputs with no impact on outcomes”.  Hidden Histories GPS BBC.

I am sometimes asked about how programmatic will transform advertising.  Clearly a benefit of programmatic is pinpoint accuracy and the reduction of wastage.  But when we consider how it will transform advertising strategy overall we can look to the impact of GPS on military strategy as a related world.

I love my GPS.  My relationship with GPS did get off to a rocky start as I tended to take the bossy voice of the navigator too literally and was directed across a river in full flood down in Cornwall once.  Common sense prevailed but it was a disappointment.  Now I wouldn’t be without it and thanks to Google Maps on my phone can rely on not getting lost anywhere I go.

Soldiers used to have to find their way around using a compass and a map.  The first satellite navigation system Transit was used by the United States Navy in 1960.

The development of GPS came about on a Labor Day weekend in 1973 when a meeting of twelve military officers at the Pentagon discussed the creation of a Defense Navigation Satellite System (DNSS). It was at this meeting that “the real synthesis that became GPS was created.”  But it is President Reagan who we must thank for its everyday use in stopping us losing our way.

For years it was a military system only but after a tragic incident when a Korean Air Lines Flight carrying 269 people was shot down in 1983, when it strayed into the USSR’s prohibited airspace, President Ronald Reagan issued a directive making GPS freely available for civilian use, once it was sufficiently developed, as a common good.

It is still of course used in military circumstances and as we know from the current series of Homeland is used to pinpoint accuracy for the deployment of drones.

So technology has massively improved the accuracy of targeting.  But as the comment opening this blog points out, it has done nothing to improve the persuasion of opponents to a different point of view.

What is the objective of military strategy? Usually it is a good peace. More accurate missiles are clearly a great thing in the short term.  Winning only comes about if we convince the opponent to a different point of view.

Convincing the potential consumer of a brand of our point of view is of course a major part of advertising strategy.  More accurate targeting via programmatic is a good thing. It is only important if we can persuade the consumer of a brand’s point of view at the same time.


Mix it Raw

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

YouTube has been everywhere recently.  Buses, posters, magazine features and the BBC.

An episode of the Apprentice featured the candidates making a YouTube video and collaborating with YouTube stars to promote it, thus proving once again that any idiot CANNOT be funny or clever enough to go viral.

YouTube stars have also been into MediaCom’s offices.  The very charming Simon Wear, Barry Taylor and Caspar Lee answered questions about how to win on YouTube.

All the stars present were naturally keen to collaborate with brands.  Caspar Lee, boyband-esq star of his own channel which has over 3 million subscribers and over 160 million views, told us brands need to be “open-minded” and to trust his insights.  “I have to explain to older people why its ok for me to swear, I know my generation”, he explained to us.  He’s very keen on what he called “collab-ing” with brands who come with an open brief to do what he thinks best.

This echoes the views of Will Hayward VP of BuzzFeed.  He draws a sharp contrast between the world of marketing brands in order simply to get noticed to those that do so to get shared.

Does this require a new kind of creative agency ? Is the world changing faster than the rules of media?  Or has there always been a set of media owners who have requested that brands invest their money as the media owner thinks best.  That have always said:  “Lay your money down and we will look after your best interests”

Most advertising is still about getting noticed.  And a standard reach plan may still satisfy.  But you can’t have your cake and eat it.  Brands that are using content to drive brand warmth/itp must shift to considering what makes that content share-able and to listening to the new experts, people like Caspar.

This requires a new breed of communications thinking.  And it has it’s place in most plans.  This isn’t about using media to get across a message that has been carefully cooked up in a creative agency.  This isn’t about using media to put the cherry on top of the icing on the cake.  This is delivering your recipe and some raw ingredients to the content creators and collab-ing with them so that they mix up the flour, sugar and eggs in the right way to make your cake (brand) the most shared and talked about.

This requires a swift shift to shared risk and reward as a trading model for sure.  And the highest attention to detail, to the full system around the content and to real time course correction at the media agency.

This is Raw Communications Planning.



Here come the next billion smartphones

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Big news from the Ig Nobel Prize this year as one winner explains why  banana skins are slippery.  Earlier winners have included the  researcher of Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Duck. The originator of this dubious study is Kees Moeliker and he was a guest on a recent episode of Radio 4 show The Museum of Curiosity together with legendary internet entrepreneur and founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales.


They were asked to donate an item for the museum by programme host and devisor John Lloyd (Blackadder and Qi).  Jimmy Wales gave a $10 phone which he’s GOING to buy in Kenya in 2019.  This illustrates where the smart money is being directed over the next 5 years, the developing markets, the next billion people to get smart phones.


My first book “Tell the Truth – honesty is your most powerful marketing tool” described the impact smart phones, social media and internet information is having on marketing and communications in the developed world.    This impact is still playing through and is the cause of the shattering of the traditional purchase funnel.


The next billion smart phones change markets worldwide.  Jimmy Wales remarked that the democratisation of easily accessible smart phones in the developing world may mean that the next time a crisis hits a country they might call asking for aid before we are able to send it to them.


Google’s Matt Brittin says that today’s pace of change is the slowest that it is ever going to be.  Google has launched its first Android One smartphone in India – a budget device aimed at enticing the “next billion” smartphone users in the country and other emerging markets.  At $100 it’s ten times the price of Wales’ phone of the future and some think the price will have to drop to succeed, though Google say they don’t want to be the cheapest phone in the market but the best quality value for money.


For global marketers the opportunity is clear.  Dan Chapman, MediaCom’s digital head calls the changes that the cheap smart phone bring “Demobracy”.  The phones don’t just bring marketers opportunities to sell stuff they bring the users information about product, authenticity, pricing and sourcing.


More markets are opening up.  At the same time the demands and expectations of customers are increasing too.  For media planning this means recognising a much more fluid and complicated path to purchase than the “purchase funnel” of the past.  It means building real time course correction into every plan.  And as markets open up it means understanding what brands represent in different markets worldwide and if they can be truly global successes.


How smart are the smart systems ?

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Walking down one of Hampstead’s bijoux roads recently I noticed a woman leaning out of an upstairs window explaining to a man at the door that her “smart” lock had locked her in and asking him to try different ways to open the door.


If MediaCom’s strategy director Mark Cochrane is right we can expect much more of this in our homes. A secret tech geek, Mark delivered the “what’s next” presentation at our joint conference with Channel 4 this month “Make our house your home.”  Mark revealed Smart locks, lighting, alarms, coffee makers, blinds and of course cars and fridges all currently on the market though clearly not mass market yet.  You could see the audience taking notes.  Mind you though during the last 24 months I’ve had more power cuts than in the last 24 years; but I’m sure it’ll all be absolutely fine when everything possible is hooked up and the power fails.


In other highlights C4 research head Neil Taylor talked us through the new consumer decision making process.  He warned that the consumer purchase “funnel” is now leaking all over the place and overflowing with unnecessary information and too many choices.  MediaCom planning head Steve Gladdis and strategist Lindsey Jordan explained approaches to counter this for brands, including making stuff simple through bite size chunks of information and use of the credibility of celebrity experts which C4’s Danny Peace illustrated with case studies.  Speaking of experts the glorious Sarah Beeney was interviewed by Damon (move over Chatty Man) Lafford.  Her top prediction? Wall carpets to counter bad acoustics caused by open plan and wooden floors.  Neil had already told us that consumers would like robot vacuum cleaners; surely the launch of wall crawling Roombas can’t be far away?


I too will give some of the smart devices designed for the home and car a go. It strikes me though that very little in the working environment of most offices is smarter.  Have you been in the slightly smarter lifts at Central St Giles, I think that they lack charm.  When I’m working late and concentrating hard at Theobalds Road the lights go off because I’m not moving about enough.  Most new systems seemed designed to outsource effort from central teams that were originally designed to take unproductive tasks away from employees.  You can see the sell (smaller central admin teams), but the individual user might have to jump through more hoops.  Am I being unfair?  Are there “smart systems” out there in the workplace that are increasing individual productivity?