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


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 –


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

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

Brand reinvigoration: Solo


Ideas for new tag lines that capitalize on Solo’s “Thirst Crusher” brand.

Solo: crushes a thirst like a club to a baby seal

Since you can’t trust VB for your hard earned thirst, why not try Solo?

*animation of a solo can mounting someone’s mouth like a dog in heat* – Solo: its got a crush on thirst

that is all….

Attention Journalists: Do your job

Last night on Media Watch there was a piece on the recent campaign by TCO in which they released a piece of content around “texting based disorders” being experienced by teens, such as textephrenia and post-traumatic text disorder. The release was picked up by numerous large scale media outlets and published as news.

The Media Watch piece took the attitude that what TCO did was unscrupulous and wrong. It asserted that TCO & Boost Mobile had misled the public.

Stepping back from what has already happened lets actually think about what was done here. TCO published a press release which clearly stated the research was from Boost Mobile. The paper had ridiculous names like textephrenia and post-traumatic text disorder. To me, if you’re over the age of 16 this should ring a fair few warning bells as the names alone reek of satire and any release or piece of ‘research’ that comes from an interested party should be viewed with a certain level of skepticism.

From my 2 cents all blame sits with the media outlets. It would have taken 1 phone call and 2 minutes of research to de-bunk the report and save themselves the embarrassment of being caught out for publishing this. I saw someone on Twitter say that to blame the media entirely is akin to blaming the victim of a conman for being ripped off, however I would disagree. In life your job not to thoroughly investigate everything you do, there is no need for you to find out the origin of the lettuce on your sandwich at lunch, as a journalist the ONLY thing you are really paid to do is source information and ensure it is credible. If journalists aren’t doing their jobs what exactly are they being paid for?

Full disclosure: I am friends with the team at TCO though have never done business with them


Tim over at Mumbrella did some actual research and spoke to people and came up with a much better post around this issue in which he points out that TCO didn’t actually issue the press release – though he agrees with my key points, which is what really matters now, isnt it?

Perceived value


A while ago I noticed that a particular piece of thinking that has been carried over from the tangible world of sales and product/service driven business into the less tangible, more abstract world of social and non-sales orientated online business.

In the world of tangibles if a particular action has a perceived value, then there is a push from the business to lower the barrier to action, this can vary from access to a brochure or information pack all the way through to a sale of an item. The reason this works is because a sale has a physical price there is a physical value, so by looking at conversion ratios we are able to attribute a value to the brochure.

The problem with lowering these barriers starts to come when the entire value proposition of the action is the effort that went into it.

Case in point; Facebook removed ‘Fan’ and replaced it with ‘Like’ as they noticed people “liked” things with a lot less thought, therefor brands would be able to grow their pages with more ease. The issue here is that by lowering this barrier they have diluted the value proposition. If we make some very generous assumptions and say that a customer that is also a Facebook ‘Fan’ spent on average $5 more per year than a customer who is not a Facebook ‘Fan’ then this number will inevitably go down when the brand starts to attract less interested ‘likes.’

In many ways we can draw a comparison to what has happened to online advertising, publishers inflated their impressions in an attempt to squeeze more money from advertisers, however by inflating volume the response rates dropped. Advertisers realised that this meant they needed to serve more of these impressions to get the same value, thus the per-impression value of the site was diminished and the incremental gain to the publisher was lost. Thus the downward spiral begins.

Of course, all of this is based on the assumption that there is any real incremental value to a Facebook fan to begin with. So far all attempts I have seen to report on dollar values for this kind of activity have been using methodology that ranges from questionable to retarded.

Moving beyond this some would argue that the value is the ability to deliver messages to this audience and engage with them on an ongoing basis, which is terrific, as long as they are spending more money than people who aren’t involved in that engagement, because every line you read, every word you type has a head hour against it and those cost the business money.

So if you’re attracting more ‘Likes’ than you were ‘Fans’ you might want to hold off on that self congratulatory back pat and avoid sending out that smug tweet to all your social media strategy expert guru pals, because it’s highly likely that you’re increasing quantity at the sacrifice of quality.