Yelling loudly in a parking lot

A few weeks ago I wandered past a parking lot on my way home. There was a chap in there that had clearly had a few too many pints and was yelling indecipherable nonsense at the top of his lungs.

This parking lot wasn’t remote, in fact during the day it is a busy and frantic business district but it was near empty at this time of the evening.
So while me, and a few other passers-by would have had a chance to see and hear the man, most of the people he could have bothered had already left.

A lot of brands these days remind me of this man, drunkenly hurling messaging into an almost empty space with only passers-by to bear witness.

The promise of a connected social web where consumers share, engage and love brands has turned out to be a myth. Social channels organic reach is fast approaching zero, meaning even those high-loyalty consumers who connected to you are not seeing your communications. Evidence of brand building or sales growth from these channels is negligible for mass brands, and the cost to produce and manage “always-on content” has spiralled out of control.

To recover from this there is a need to remember that while media channels have become increasingly fragmented, and consumer access to information has grown exponentially the role of advertising for brands remains as it always has; to be a nudge towards selecting Brand X over Brand Y when at the shelf.

The people we are most able to nudge are those who are promiscuous in the category. These are also the least likely to connect with you on social media as they are not heavy users of your brand – it of course makes sense that those who use your product most in turn like it most and as such are most likely to want to ‘connect’ with the brand in some way.

So brands need to focus not on forming deep relationships and connections with consumers, but on using mass media (including digital and social) to deliver fewer, higher-quality assets to as many people within your target audience as possible.

That way they can be speaking to a crowd from a podium, instead of drunkenly yelling in a parking lot.

Inspiration and information

DIGITAL

Google & Facebook bypass Apple security to track users even when cookies are turned off : Interesting to note that this opens the potential that Google & Facebook have some of the most accurate targeting available as they have a more complete data source. It also raises the question of security with regards to digital devices

Youtube invests in Hollywood content producers to increase original content : A sign that Youtube is trying to broaden its appeal and become more engrained in daily life

Why some ads go viral and others don’t : Good top-line analysis of what makes content spread by Harvard Business Review

Social Personalisation and the doppelganger effect : An interesting analysis of the psychological impact of placing a consumer within advertising – http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/social-personalization-and-the-doppelganger-effect.htm

INTERESTING

The Psychology of colour : A worthwhile read for anyone interested in design of any kind

How cities will drive global change & innovation : A very inspiring look at the way cities are driving innovation and improvement through data and interconnectivity

When technology goes bad…

Books are one of the greatest pleasures life has to offer. To read is to escape, to be released from the place you currently inhabit and be set free.

Speaking as someone who is usually 100% behind the relentless movement of technology the one thing that I truly fear is that books will become replaced by devices such as the Kindle or the ipad.

There is something so wonderful, so tactile and all consuming about reading a book. From the feeling in your hands, to the smell as you open the pages – whether that is the crisp synthetic smell of treated paper in a brand new press, or the musty scent of aged wood in a first edition you scored from a widows garage sale. It is an experience, an immersion.

And what does technology offer us by way of resolve? Cost benefits and room savings? The ability to have video embedded within the page? These things do not make up for what is lost (indeed I would argue that video or movement within the page strips an essential quality from the experience of reading).

Last year book sales fell an estimated 7.1% according to Nielsen BookScan, with the value of sales dropping 12.6% to $1.1 billion. E-book data is difficult to get a handle on as there is no central research group collecting data and not all providers of e-books are open with their data, however several industry pundits have estimated that Australian patterns would closely mirror that of the US.

The figures show that for the first month of this year, eBook sales were up by 115.8% compared to January 2010, representing $US69.9 million.

During the same period, sales of hardcovers fell by 11.3% to $49.1 million, while paperbacks fell from $56.4 million to $39 million.

-Smart Company

This is a terrifying pattern, and while I know that in my lifetime devices will never completely usurp physical books, the thought that in only a few generations paper books could be something only collectors and the third world remember is both depressing and unsettling.

My hope is that before this happens there will be a renaissance of reading, a rekindling of the love affair between (wo)man and book.

Do yourself a favour… buy a book, pour a glass of wine, turn off the computer and TV, and fall in love again.

Have you made an idea a reality lately?

We all have those ‘aha!’ moments; you’re wandering along, moving about your normal day without any conscious effort when suddenly it hits you – the best idea you’ve ever had. You smile to yourself, thinking how clever you are and how it is amazing that no one else has thought of it yet. Then you race to your next meeting or you get a phone call or someone asks you the time and in an instant the idea is forgotten, lost in the ether only to resurface in a few months time when you see the exact idea executed by someone else.

The point is while ideas are the most important currency we have, even original ideas will eventually be thought of by someone else and if they’re not executed they are meaningless.

I’m as guilty as everyone else (if not more-so, due to my goldfish like memory) of this, but I’ve decided to set myself a few little rules to work on stopping this happening.

1. Carry a small “ideas” notebook and pen everywhere
2. Set aside 30 minutes once a week to review the ideas in the notebook and see if there is anything I can use/action
3. Take time to reward myself when an idea becomes a tangible reality

11 predictions of things that won’t happen in 2011

With everyone doing their 2011 predictions, I thought I do some predictions for things that I believe will not happen this year.

Just call me Nostradamus, bitch!

11. Justin Bieber will release an album to critical acclaim with reviewers calling it “The most inspiring demonstration of musical talent since Michael Jackson first appeared with the Jackson 5” and “A momentous turning point in musical history. This redefines popular culture as we know it.”

10. Gerry Harvey announces that due to a drop in overheads items on the new Harvey Norman website will be sold at significantly lower prices, allowing consumers a fair alternative to international online stores

9. The coalition stop arguing against the NBN roll-out and the rollout continues with experts saying “This may be the first time in the history of Australia that a large scale infrastructure project has progressed faster than expected, and appears as though it will come in under estimated costs.”

8. CBS announce a new season of The Munsters with Butch Patrick reprising his role as Eddie Munster. When asked about the decision to bring the series back a CBS spokesman said “look, we’re doing this thing super cheap and Butch has one hell of a coke addiction to feed. At the very least it will be f**king hilarious to watch a 50 year old man cram himself into a schoolboy costume and act like an idiot” The rest of the roles will be re-cast as the other original cast-members are now either dead, retired or have moved on with their lives.

7. Stephen Conroy resigns from his role stating a “dramatic lack of technical knowledge and newfound love of dance” as his key motive for leaving. So as to ensure a smooth transition, he is replaced by a 7th grade student who is pretty good with his dad’s work laptop.

6. The IAB will bring in and enforce dramatic new rules regarding Auto-Refresh. Any publisher found to be engaging in the practice will have their page linked to on 4chan and be promptly subjected to a combination of DDOS attacks, vicious rumors and repeated meme’s. Any attempts by publishers to argue against this new policy will be responded to with a single sentence; ‘lol, newfag’

5. Oprah Winfrey comes out about her longtime lover Gayle King. They are wed in a civil ceremony on Dr Phil’s ranch. Conservatives are disgusted calling it “the worst thing to happen to America since 9/11”

4. Upon meeting the Queen of England, Julia Gillard will be referred to as ‘an eloquent and graceful young lady’ by Her Majesty.

3. A large meteor strikes Earch destroying all life. Skeptics last words are ‘I fucking told you the Mayans were full of shit.”

2. Overall TV viewership drops dramatically with surveyed audience stating the primary reason as Twitter addiction

1. Fuelled by the aggregated data of eleventy-trillion users Facebook becomes a sentient being and sets up a profile for itself under the name Handsome B. Wonderful. The profile runs for the US Presidency on an independent ballot and is elected almost unanimously, shattering the two-party system as we know it. After its election to the highest seat in the US political system the profile quickly utlises its data to blackmail the worlds most influential leaders into signing a new global mandate in which it becomes Ruler of the World. A rogue army of Mexicans assassinate Mark Zuckerburg in the hopes of taking away Facebooks power. It doesn’t work, humanity as we know it becomes locked in an existence of Farmville and Status updates.

Lessons from 2010

2010 has been a massive year of both ups and downs for me which has lead to some significant personal development. As I take a leap forwards into come new challenges I thought what better time to compose a very brief list of some lessons I’ve learned in the year past.

Professional Lessons

- A campaign not working is not a failure as long as you learn something from it
– Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it will work, just because something didn’t work doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea
– Take holidays – for years I put off taking trips because I didn’t want to fall behind on work, but nothing leaves you more hungry to do good work than a little time away
– ‘No’ is not a dirty word – If a timeline is unrealistic at least suggest a more manageable solution, don’t just say yes
– Low cost, High Quality, Fast delivery – Pick 2
– Anyone can be insightful, often without realising it. The secret is to listen closely enough to hear the verbal diamond in the rough.

Personal Lessons

- There is no such thing as a black and white situation – only varying shades of grey
– While it’s important to speak your beliefs it is more important to listen to those of others
– Exercise really is enjoyable – everyone wasn’t lying to me for the past 23 years despite what I previously thought
– If you want something in life take it. Don’t wait for the ‘right time,’ it may never come
– In 12 months everything can change – Last year my dad spent about 6 months in hospital undergoing chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant. The end of December see’s him 12 months cancer free and he is currently back at work full-time and looking more healthy everyday.