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

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Brand reinvigoration: Solo

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

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?

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.

The ultimate idea killer

Ideas can come from anywhere. They are not limited by age, race, status or education. A good idea can come from the mind of a 5 year or in the ramblings of a 90 year old. These are facts that are universally accepted, and yet in an industry built on ideas many people allow their ego and sense of entitlement to hinder this process.

The ultimate enemy of ideas is the ego.

More accurately, it is ego which leads to poor leadership that in turn impacts the creative process.

Confidence and self-assurance can be great qualities in a creative thinker, they allow them to be vocal and forward with their thinking, free from the self doubt that can kill an idea before it begins. However these same traits that can make a great thinker can make a person a lousy people manager. Their ego and the feeling that they have earned their way to their current position of power and authority can make them hypercritical and short with those below them. There is an immediate dismissal that anybody with less experience and a lower paycheck could ever possibly come up with an idea that they could not top.

While the immediate impact of this will simply be dis-engaged and unmotivated staff, the long term ramifications for the agency are massive. Firstly, key talent are likely to go elsewhere if they feel they are being unrecognized and under acknowledged. This in turn will lead to a lack of up and coming talent from within the agency leading to the highly expensive need to recruit top talent from outside the business when your mid-top level employees move on. Secondly, the employees who do stay will likely be unhappy and unmotivated, this leads to increased sick days, lower levels of productivity, a generally lower level of moral in the workplace and higher turnover.

These problems are not limited to creative careers such as Advertising and Design, they are however more baffling in these industries as they impact not only the overall mood and moral but they inhibit the very thing that businesses pay for.

I have been fortunate enough to have been nurtured greatly and as such I have been lucky to have had incredible opportunities arise numerous times in my short career. This is perhaps the reason for my passion to help those that are new to the industry flourish and grow their passion. However many I know have not been so lucky, a lot of people will only last 6-12 months in their first role before leaving the industry all together, still more will go sales or client side out of frustration with the way they are treated and a lack of visibility into their future.

There needs to be a resolute and sound focus over the next few years within the media, advertising and marketing industry to check our egos (amazing though they be) at the door and really concentrate on building our people and talent management skills in order to ensure that creativity and free thinking thrive and that agencies are able to retain talent.

Advanced media attribution; A should-be-standard practice

For the last few year Ad Server providers have been working to improve their ability to attribute the contribution media placements make to an acquisition in a more detailed and accurate way.

For those not in the media world, at current the standard way to measure online media is through a ‘last cookie wins’ model which means that the last ad unit to be seen or clicked get the acquisition. The problem with this method is that a consumer will generally neither interact nor respond to an advertisement on the first interaction.

In traditional media we deal with this by booking media that follows our target demographic as they watch TV in order to reach the maximum average exposure volume. The problem we face with online media is a self imposed one, we have made ourselves too accountable. With TV (for example) it is perfectly acceptable for us to say that we reached the audience an average of (x) times stretched across 2 stations because we know that they have very similar audiences. However (in the majority of cases) when it comes to digital we are treated in an overly DR way, which in term impedes our ability to truly achieve maximum ROI. For example:

Lets say a large portion of users read the review section of SMH.com.au then research on IMDB then either click on an ad or proceed directly to QuickFlix. Now in a standard (and most commonly set up) ad server the acquisition would belong entirely to IMDB and if we were assessing the value of the media we would see only this final figure. The joy that advanced attribution models bring is that we are able (within the tracked cookie window) to trace the path the user took, in terms of their ad exposure. We can then dissect this data by applying different values to different media placements (e.g. a large OTP is worth 5 while a 468×60 is only worth 1 due to clutter) and we can then break out the value of the acquisition accordingly. In this way we may find that (in the above example) SMH.com.au actually more value than IMDB because people also go to RottenTomatos.com and then convert, but in this instance the acquisition goes to SMH because we are not running media there.

The primary challenge faced in making advanced attribution models the new standard is a lack of simplification, that is, that all ad servers deliver different data when reporting in this manner and the data is often extremely complicated to understand when in its raw form (indeed most ad servers charge you for the service then deliver an edited report). Once we have a more precise consensus as an industry around what exactly we expect from this tool we can expect to see significant progress.

If I were to make one honest prediction for a trend to watch out for in 2010 it would be for Australian agencies to start making a concious effort to increase the usage of attribution modelling across clients.

As technology currently sits advanced attribution reporting is the best way we have to understand the immediate impact and uplift that brand media has on performance/acquisition media placements.

I am interested to know, if you work in digital media (of the strategy/planning/buying/implementation variety) are you using advanced attribution reports at all? and if so who do you use and how do you find their offering?

Chasing the quick buck: How to ruin an industry

Australia’s digital media industry is in an interesting time. Some businesses are growing and posting amazing growth and others are posting losses so large even Bill Gates would squirm a little.

The result of the extra pressure placed upon both agencies and publishers in times like these is that certain people stop focussing on long term goals and start thinking only of the quickest way to meet their budgets. This happens primarily at the sales level on the publisher side as their pay is often largely commission driven, however some agency folk are just as guilty of buying into ridiculous, overpriced inventory in order to increase their spends (and in turn their commission).

I have written before about publishers running placements that are clearly bad practice and do nothing but re-enforce the stereotype of the dodgy internet marketing douchebag waiting to flood your browser with popups, your inbox with spam and your computer with malware.

Today Mumbrella reported that new agency The Prosperity Principal is planning to launch its “Trusted Avatar” program. This is in essence a forum/social channel spam system. The topic has caused quite a stir and driven a large amount of conversation with a passionate voice from social media circles discussing the negatives of a lack of transparency within social media. However I view his actions in a different light, this program not only doesn’t work on a social level, but it sets the entire industry back several years.

For an industry that is fighting to have itself recognised as a significant player in the marketing mix there are far too many people out there focussing on short term profits at the peril of exposing themselves as cheats and scam artists. It is only a matter of time before companies come to the realisation that Auto-play sound and pop-unders are not driving quality leads, they are just driving false volume and there is only so many brands that can have their reputation tarnished through spam related activity before marketers will start to grow ever more cautious of the digital realm. It’s time to smarten up people, yes times are hard, but the future will be harder when you have no brand value and no credibility in your industry.