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

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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

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.

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

EDIT:

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

YAY!!!!

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.

A bastards guide to: skepticism

Hi, my name is Joel and I’m a bastard.

I’m that guy that sits in your presentation and then at the end asks you for the sources of the various stats as well as what the exact question asked was and the who/when/where’s of the sample group. I know this annoys you, I can see it in your eyes. That mixture of anger, irritation and ever-so-slight fear that you will be caught flogging off your biased and untrustworthy data.

The thing that bothers me is that a lot of people in digital media (in particular social) seem to immediately forget the most basic elements of statistical analysis, the kind of basic stuff that should be common sense for anyone who sits and actually thinks about what they’re looking at, things like the difference between correlation and causality. Recently I have been having a bit of a rant about the sheer volume of misleading ‘research’ that has been published about Facebook in an attempt to give clear monetary value to “fans,” an effort that will never make sense anyway because each ‘fan’ is unique, it is not the same as a conversion/sale. I was going to write about why their study was deeply flawed in every way, but The Adcontrarian did it for me.

It wouldn’t be such an issue if they admitted fault when people call bullshit on their stupid buzz-videos (side note: reading the comments below this video will actually cause hemorrhaging of the brain, the stupidity is that dense) but instead they try to argue that the figures have value by referring to “research” that backs up the numbers, however this “research” is usually highly biased and funded by interested parties, not only this but the figures they quote are taken dramatically out of context.

If digital media as an industry really wants to start seeing significant investment from brands we need to step up to the table and be honest with advertisers, we need to tell them realistic information, not a bunch of pseudo-scientific stats that immediately set off the bullshit detector of everyone in the room. This current approach is akin to a kid telling you he caught a fish thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis big, no one believes them, but its cute that they try to trick you.

A new series of guest posts: My Start in the Media Industry by Daniel Cravero

Daniel Cravero is a friend of mine who very recently started his first role in the industry as a Media Assistant at the GroupM owned MindShare. I approached Daniel and asked if he would be interested in sharing his experience of being a new person in the industry in order to capture the full process as he grows from these beginnings as a bright-eyed, hopeful, junior.

Daniel kicking arse and taking names

Outside of media Daniel plays drums in some bands and generally kicks arse.

I’ll do some disclosure and say that while Daniel and I work for competing agencies the opinions expressed by both he and I represent only our own. They should in no way be related to our agencies, clients, or anybody with common sense.

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My first foray into media has been something like what a kid in a candy store feels like. To those seasoned individuals reading this thinking “wait till the hard cold truth hits him” I’m already one step ahead of you – I only need to look at some of the other assistants I work with to get an idea of things to come!

So what about first impressions? I really like what I’ve seen so far. This is now my 3rd week and I am learning a great deal about what it means to be working in a media agency. To be perfectly honest, it’s very exciting stuff! I took a good look at one of the media plans and thought to myself “wow, this really makes sense, I can totally see the vision behind this plan, when do I start planning?”

It turns out I may be lacking some essential skills I need to develop before I get to this stage.

Speaking of training, in house training to develop my skills has so far been out of this world. I have been so impressed with the level of coaching and training available at my agency. I couldn’t help but notice, however, certain publisher based training “seminars” include very little training content and end up turning into a selling exercise. I have worked in sales before – I can smell a sales pitch from a mile away! (But who can really complain when there are French pastries on offer).

Am I keen to stay? Absolutely. Do I enjoy the fact there are long lunches, numerous freebies, after work drinks sponsored by media owners and plenty of after hours events throughout the year? Without a doubt. Will it all come crashing down in a fiery ball of flames once reality sinks in? Stay tuned…