Today Stephanie from Maxus Amsterdam and I wanted to branch away from the talks at SWSW - we wanted to see what else the convention had to offer.
After spending time in the Tradeshow where we were introduced to many companies from all over the world, we stumbled across the Samsung tent. This incredible tent was all focused around Samsung’s new music streaming service ‘Milk’; in a nutshell this is a free service that allows users to tailor their music around genres. You can drill down to many levels to ensure you are only listening to the artist/genre you want to.
The tent allowed you to make you very own tailored t-shirt, margarita, playlist and taco! However, the thing that we found the most fascinating was the Vine studio, Stephanie and I decided to make a Vine with the help form the Samsung Gurus. This is the finished version: https://t.co/uUTYedYZ24
Today was a day of brains, balls and myths, something of a perfect summary of SXSW so far.
9.30am on a wet and cold Austin (first myth - Texas is hot!) I started the day with a very entertaining academic of neurobiology. His talk was perfectly matched to his personality; fascinating but totally chaotic.
We jumped from a discussion about the pleasure of food, and how pleasure originates in the brain, the amount of attention you pay to your food and the expectation you have around it all dramatically increase the sensation of eating. Having spent last week debating the psychology of selling luxury goods these two principles rang very true to our communications approach, using communications formats that demand an increase in attention - to lean in towards the brand, and stimulate the expectation of the luxury experience far down the consumer purchase pathway.
We then jumped around a few contentious subjects (in neurobiology terms) and I learnt that the only proven way to improve brain capacity was through exercise and diet, all the brain training games on your Nintendo won't make a dot of difference although there was an interesting debate around crosswords!
A lot of parents and teachers in the audience were concerned about the effect of video games and computer screen time on their children. There was not a firm conclusion on this, there is some evidence that video games can improve an element of attention - visual attention and speed of processing, but this is only one part of a multitude of attention definitions.
As there is an equal amount of evidence that it reduces other attention elements connected to auditory attention and slower information delivery (the type of attention typically demanded in schools). Ultimately the talk was concluded by suggesting that good old fashioned balance is the best for every brain.
Next up balls! Sophia Amoroso the CEO of a multimillion dollar business, aged only 29.
The kind of person on paper you want to hate, but seeing her speak so humorously and humbly just makes your realise what a giant pair of balls this lady has.
Building her business up from selling vintage clothing on eBay to creating a $100 million business.
For someone who had never excelled at school she showed and innate understanding of marketing principles. A crystal clear understanding of what her brand is, and who her customer is.
She instinctively understood the principles of social media way before most agency land did, describing her business as a 'community' rather than a retail business.
Even from the early days she describes how she was continually monitoring and listening to customer feedback, even if this was in the beginning dressed in her bathrobe in her bedroom. Now as a huge business she is strongly data driven but still relies on her gut to make the ultimate decision.
Her gut plays a strong role in all her decisions from hiring people 'who don't need managing and then she learns from them', to experimenting with all social channels - she has 1 person managing this who she believes embodies all her brand values and then she 'lets them talk like a human being talks', finally when pushed on her exit strategy - would she sell would she acquire? she answered in her signature 'ballsy' style 'I don't have an exit strategy, I have a will'
Finally myths....and specifically around creativity. In a quick talk to end the day we heard how our attitude to creativity is still shrouded in mythology - the idea that 'inspiration' comes down from above hurts all of our ability to be more creative. The biggest barrier to creativity is not that people can't do it or that it is reserved for the 'special few', but instead it is our failure to overcome the oxymoron of decision.
This is we want 'new' but we also want 'useful'. New is scary because we have never seen this before, and useful is safe because it is based on what we already know. Creating a culture which recognises that this unequal equation exists will enable you to spot and support creativity, because we don't necessarily need 'new' ideas we just need to 'spot' the good ideas that are already in front of us.
A perfect mixture of brains, balls and myths.
You approach SXSW like an expectant undergraduate ready to soak the fog of knowledge everywhere like a sponge.
And indeed there are a lot of similarities to student life. Traipsing around town with a backpack slung over one shoulder, the obligatory uniform of trainers, jeans and facial hair means that even a CEO looks like a college student – and on day two the number of people popping ibuprofen has the definite whiff of fresher’s week.
But while I am definitely learning, there is a strange realisation of how much you already know. Working in advertising still manages to elicit the annual conversation from my parents with regards to ‘how will all this help when you want to get a real job?’ And indeed I never really knew how to answer – what transferable skills do I really have? But SXSW has taught me that actually if I wanted to my ‘real job’ could be in in UX software design, or the development of 3D printers.
Firstly there was the UX software developer talking about ‘evil design and what we could learn from the powers of evil in order to make your software interface design better.’ Half-way through his talk it dawned on me I was listening to a graduate of Rory Sutherland; without quite the wit or wealth of personal examples of Rory, he was clearly referencing an awful lot of behavioural economic principles.
He talked about ‘reframing’ your view of what constitutes ‘bad’ by asking - was Fagin a truly horrid character? or maybe he was an enterprising individual who gave homes and jobs to hundreds of underprivileged children?
How Greed, one of the deadly sins can be reframed against the principle of playing games. He argued that it is ‘greed’ that drives you in game-playing to collect more points and that by applying the principles of game-playing to design you can engage your audience and even get them to improve, build and develop your software system for your own financial benefit.
Then there was a very interesting conversation with the developer of a 3D printer. His company had developed 3D printing capabilities across a multitude of mediums – from plastic, ceramic and sugar (causing a twitter frenzy across Austin)
Talking to him about the future potential of 3D printing he became most animated about the opportunities it presented with regards to the personalization. Tailoring the output of his product to each individual, building a long-term relationship where you understand what each person wants and creating a feedback loop. A future that doesn’t sound too dis-similar to a lot of social conversations I have with my clients.
There is however, one more thing I wish a lot of these different businesses would learn from the communications industry, and that is we learn (and you on the stage – sell) with all of your senses. It means that when talking about design, or explaining complicated theories or business models, making your presentation look nice, use clean diagrams and simple graphics of your data can go a long way – and as one internet meme said very clearly – Comic Sans has no place in a Fortune 500 company!
Maxus Global is attending this year's SXSW festival in Texas with our creative technology division Metalworks, and also two teams from Maxus Endeavour, our unique programme for young talent across the Maxus network.
Over the next few days we will be sharing blogs from 2 attendees from the London office - Our Head of Planning - Jen Smith and Rebecca Ridgwell - Senior Planner.
SXSW....WOW - Day One - by Rebecca Ridgwell
SXSW…WOW, day one down and I can’t wait for tomorrow. I already know this is going to be one of the best experiences I am going to have the opportunity to partake in.
To start the day we walked to the Austin convention centre to collect our passes and bag which contained a handy little events guide and map, little did we know just how much we were going to need to rely on the map to get around the very busy city. After briefly meeting up with the rest of the Connections Map Endeavour group we split up into pairs and headed off into the world of SWSW.
Initially we wanted to catch a shuttle bus over to another part of Austin to see a talk which seemed interesting. However after waiting in a long queue to just get on the bus we realised we were going to have to duck out and find an alternative event. First lesson learnt – leave extra early to every talk/event we want to see.
Over the day I went to 3 different talks all of which were very interesting and informative however my favourite and most inspiring talk was ‘Share Your Work’ by Austin Kleon. I found myself smiling throughout, Austin kept his audience engaged with his incredible stories and supporting images on the screens. Austin spoke about how people are so keen to promote themselves that they forget how to collaborate effectively. He describes people who take from you, yet don’t share or support you in your work as Vampires. He reminded us that we need to pay attention and listen to others – close our mouths and open our eyes.
In our jobs we should look at what is being done, look for gaps, work out what connects people and fill the gap with our own efforts. We should always share the work of others and treat their work with care. Don’t be vampire be a contributor!
Just for a minute forget ‘doing digital’, forget likes and click-through rates, SEO, big data and ‘native advertising, just for 5 minutes while you read this.
Whilst there is a lot of science to the art of good media planning let’s just take a step back and see digital for what it really is, not “a” media (in any case the singular reference is bizarre) but a technology.
It’s a very powerful technology but not because it’s changing things and making things more complicated but because it signals a return to simplicity where intuition can flourish because, as sure as planners have beards, if there’s one truth about technology it’s that it serves existing needs and only survives if it enhances or simplifies the human experience.
Bill Buxton put in nicely in a recent Tweet “Life has always been mobile. The technology just hasn't caught up .....Yet.”
To prove the point, have you heard of the Honeywell 316? You should have done. It claims to be the world’s first home computer, launched in 1969. The one small problem with its claim is that apparently it didn’t enter a single consumer home.
The Honeywell was a kitchen computer that could store recipes, fixed on to a chopping board all styled (wonderfully) in a kind of Star Trek look – presumably aimed at those women in the 60’s who were forgoing the sexual revolution in favour of that kind of lobotomised domestic bliss ad men of the era believed existed.
Firstly the Honeywell was expensive, VERY expensive, but it was also big and heavy and if that wasn’t enough it required a two week programming course to operate. It was hardly a replacement for a $5 cookbook, cheap, light, portable, easy to use and read. It was new, technological, “digital” in essence but not on ‘human’ terms.
Let’s take another big technology, TV. It is still unique in providing ‘turn on and go’ entertainment that brings families together. But for a short while, as more screens entered the home, they became the thing that kept us apart. Digital has humanised the TV viewing experience, families are still multi screening but doing so together in the lounge again around ‘the big screen’. According to recent Microsoft research 44% of device usage in the home is in the lounge and 75% of families’ second screen whilst watching TV.
Whatever viewing experience you want, TV technology has enhanced it – turns out digital is TV’s greatest ally! If you want to binge view all episodes rather than wait a week you can, if you want to ask a question directly to the show, you can text one in, if you want to play along, download the app, to gossip on stuff as its happening, #omg! your friends. We don’t tune out anymore, we tune in to each other. TV content always created a viewer experience but digital is making this viewing experience richer, social and more human.
Clever brands will worry about being on tablet or twitter or TV or catch up later and first ask how they can play a part in making the viewer experience richer.
Retail is another great example. Digital enables us to review, compare, find other people like ourselves and to learn what products are best for us way before we even go down the road of finding the best price. Our need for instant delivery keeps us going in to shops but with delivery drones and collection lockers all being threatened by the likes of Amazon even the need for transacting in store may be displaced. In other words technology is turning retail on to customer’s terms. The retail environment has one card up its sleeve, experience, the ability to feel, smell, taste it to enforce your purchase decision i.e. its evolving from a sales-house to a showroom.
Clever brands will see ‘e-commerce’ as central to their business model and have greater concern for how the retail experience can enhance this.
Interactivity is not completely new (you could always phone in to a radio show or write to points of view) but digital has met this human need and taken it to such an extent it’s become normal. Technology has made media intuitively interactive and this interactivity amplifies the human experience whether it’s connecting us more richly or immediately, immersing us in entertainment or helping us find products on our own terms.
But here’s the other aspect of technology, it evolves, it learns, constantly improving as it does so it’s not just making our experiences more human but becoming more human. Media is not just interactive but also intelligent.
But don’t panic, we’re not all going to wake up in The Matrix or have euthanasia crystals embedded in our palms (yet) because the critical thing to remember is the person programming all of this is the end user, you. Every search, click and view teaches media how to be and because it’s reacting to us, it’s getting closer to us, as Tim Berners-Lee put it “You affect the world by what you browse”
Looking to the future we see the humanisation of media continuing apace.
We are already the direct interface with technology, as any owner of an Xbox Kinetic or Google Glasses will know.
Technology is already striving to answer our questions before we have asked them. For example Amazon is already said to be testing mailing books it knows we will want to buy before we start shopping.
People like professor Hiroshi Ishiguro are at the forefront of developing emotional interface and their robots are currently hosting events, and speaking with people on ‘normal terms, emotional facial expressions included’. It may sound indulgent but consider two thirds of human communication is non-verbal.
Artificial intelligence is replicating us directly. For example, Eterni.me collects almost everything that you create during your lifetime, and processes this huge amount of information using complex Artificial Intelligence algorithms. Then it generates a virtual YOU, an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with and offer information and advice to your family and friends after you pass away.
AI is already in existence where machines can be programmed to perform tasks like host meetings in a way that matches the decision making of the person concerned – how will you market your products if a machine is tasked with making purchase decisions?
Again this has big implications. It may all be very far reaching but this will cascade through to media and how we engage with technology. Perhaps one day the human experience will be so seamless we are hardly aware we’re using any media at all?
But as Neils Bohr said “prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future”. So that’s why at Maxus we advocate an approach of leaning in to change. It’s important to keep ahead of technology but also to identify the genuine human aspect of it – the last ten years is littered with the casualties of brands who did new stuff because they could or thought they should without having identified why.
What technology is doing to media provides the opportunity for brands to be a part of real human experiences, and as we all know, it’s through experiences that meaningful relationships are formed.
This isn’t about encouraging audiences to like your ad on Facebook and then assume they’ll start buying three times as often. It is more subtle and fundamental than that. As with any relationship we must first think what does the other party want over ourselves – for them to really like us, we must show we like them.
Our consumers have always been human, media is becoming more human, so brands need to follow. Don’t ask ‘what’ your brand is but ‘who’ and less about what we are selling but the social, cultural and human experience it engenders.
I once read that the best time to start honouring your new year’s resolution is in February as opposed to the start of the year. This makes plenty of sense given its enough time to get over Decembers festivities, claw back your finances and truly reset. With this in mind I think I’m safe in assuming many of us have included health initiatives as part of our promises to ourselves this year. So I’d like to briefly discuss the impact technology has on our ability has to diet effectively and what could food brands be doing to promote the health benefits of their products through mobile/tablet applications.
There is no doubt a health kick at the start of the year but for a lot of dieter’s joyful days of calorie counting and detox rituals don’t trickle off after the first few weeks of the year. According to a recent GMI study on UK dieting trends, 60% of Adults were on at least one diet last year. Out of those figures 15% of all dieters were enrolled to an online dieting plan.
Diet plans are definitely more accessible with the advances in technology. Almost a third of people questioned in the GMI survey said they have used a mobile app for some element of their diet. If you run an app search for diets in any virtual app store you will be flooded with calorie counter apps and 5min work out plans and a variety of physical performance trackers. But one thing I struggled to find was health and lifestyle apps directly from fitness or food brands themselves. Special K has an excellent diet program online which incorporates the use of their products around a balanced diet and exercise. I can admit I’ve tried the original Special K diet that I once read on the back a cereal box a few years ago but I couldn’t find a quick accessible version in the iTunes app store. Nike + is definitely a key player in branded health and fitness apps; with some of their products such as the wrist brand (fuel band) fully compatible with the apps, but paying £129 for a Nike fuel band to sync with my phone seems like much more of a commitment then paying £1.49 for the Ultimate 7 Minute workout!
Its been reported that apps which help you monitor performance contribute to your wellbeing, it’s easy to stay motivated when you can see your hard work laid out in front of you. With the rise in fitness and dieting apps I think there are opportunities for food brands and retailers to help plan ways in which you can fit their products around a healthy balanced diet. Of course one size does not fit all; it would be a hard sell to demonstrate how you could fit a Domino’s pizza in your meal plan when you are trying to shed 5lb. Nando’s recently updated their smartphone app to include a nutrition section in their virtual menu – this display of transparency is useful to calorie conscious consumers whether or not you have a stake in the health foods market. However for the brands who market their products as part of a healthy lifestyle there could be many benefits in developing a branded application which incorporates a diet/fitness tracker element primarily encouraging your customers to go back to your products and integrate them into their diet. Many key food retailers such as Tesco’s are part way there with recipes apps which create shopping lists for the user which can be uploaded into the basket for online purchases.
Attitudes towards food and diet are constantly changing the more informed we become on nutrition and health implications. Later on this year new EU legislation (The Food Information Regulation (EU) 1169/2011) will require additional food labelling on products with high caffeine content. Alongside the government’s healthy living marketing initiate ‘Change4life’ launched earlier this year the NHS have created health mobile applications ‘ The Walk’ and ‘ Drink Coach’. The use of Mobile applications in terms of monitoring a healthy lifestyle is definitely something for brands to focus on well beyond one month of the year.
In the spirit of new New Year health initiative’s I have complied a shortlist of diet and health apps that I find the easiest to stick with!
My Top 5 Health Apps
1. My Fitness Pal – Impressive Database of food products, Counts down calories based on all physical activity, Sync’s flawlessly from Tablet, Mobile and Desktop devices.
2. Carrot Fit – Funny, Animated, Light-hearted.
3. Wellios – Easy, Sociable, This app is all about results!
4. Ab/Arm/Butt Workout – Simple exercise footage to follow, Customisable,
5. Fit Bit – Tracks your sleep & steps as well as calorie intake for free! (iOS 7)
In our rush to find a solution, have we created more confusion?
One of the most alluring aspects of digital has always been its accountability. Data heads and marketers have feasted on a banquet of performance metrics, analytics and sales efficiencies. So it’s little wonder that the emergence of technology claiming less than half of digital ads are actually seen is proving difficult to digest.
But the digital industry has thrived on a diet of fast-paced evolution and is more leanin than a squad of Sheryl Sandberg’s, so unsurprisingly this new viewability challenge has already been pounced on and we have a mosh-pit of suppliers, industry bodies and tech providers simultaneously producing solutions and opinion pieces. But are we creating more questions than we’re answering, are we actively helping clients navigate their way through this minefield and is there enough unity within the industry to create a clear path to success?
It's all apples, pears and oranges
Ad verification technology is an umbrella term that enables us to monitor ad placements for 1. brand safety (ads being placed in inappropriate environments), 2. fraudulent activity (click bots and pixel stuffing) and 3. viewability; the ad may have been served, the advertiser will have been
charged, but has the ad been seen or is it lurking below the fold or on a section of the page that is out of view? Currently viewability is defined as 50% of the ads pixels are in-view for at least 1 second and there are numerous technology providers that can monitor and block this activity but therein lies one of our biggest challenges: common language.
Firstly, the methodology used by these tech providers to measure viewability does vary. Meaning one provider may report 43% viewability whilst another reports 60% on exactly the same campaign. The tech providers wear the Media Ratings Counsel (MRC) accreditation as a badge of honour but the MRC are there to verify that the methodology and functionality on offer is sound and valid. The MRC are currently not driving standardisation, a shared methodology or metrics.
Equally, what does good look like? Is it 50%, 60%, 75% viewability and should it vary depending on whether we’re buying a site specific brand campaign or DR focused programmatic?
Until there is some standardisation as to what we should be aiming towards then publishers, brands and tech vendors will be left in quasiparalysis. The industry needs unity in order to move forward and optimise towards agreed benchmarks.
Gradual change is the key to success
It’s the beginning of a new year so perhaps now is a good time to reflect on what we’ve learnt already, where we are today and where we are (or should be) heading. The UK is currently in the auditing stage, where publishers and advertisers are first trying to understand the details behind their own viewability rates before making drastic changes to their media b buying. Some clients, particularly in the US, have started to take these learnings and adjust their product or media buying accordingly. Kellogg’s saw that by improving their ad viewability by 40% they produced a 75% increase in sales life from digital advertising. Compelling results.
Google have announced their viewable impression CPM bidding in AdWords and whilst this is a step in the right direction it does raise several pertinent questions: is it right to be buying ‘guaranteed’ viewable impressions from the same entity that is providing the viewability results? Should we not wait for MRC and IAB guidelines around statistical consistency and independent measurement? And what is the right CPM to pay for an inview ad?
Whilst the Google offering should be approached with a degree of caution and an appreciation of the subtleties, advertisers would do well to trial it as part of a test-and-learn approach. In conjunction with trialling other ‘pay for in-view’ models offered through RTB. It will help advertisers better understand what’s to come in 2014 as buying impressions on a viewability CPM basis is very much on the horizon and will bring with it a wave of benefits, insights and new data for us all to gorge upon:
- Better understanding of creative performance
- Ability to discover “gold below the fold” as CTRs have been proven to double, on average, for below-the-fold inventory
- Optimisation towards longevity as CTRs increase significantly the longer the ad is in-view
- Uncovering of poor quality publishers and inventory and equally identification of high quality partners both large and small who deliver a great user experience
- Analysis of multi-device performance, for example early research has shown that mobile ads have greater viewability than desktop ones
The horizon is coming into view
The coming months will see the fog lift around viewability, there will be greater clarity around measurement, performance metrics and buying models, offering greater transparency and integrity to our industry and allowing advertisers to invest in display with confidence. This isn’t the first time we’ve faced a new frontier, we welcome change and look forward to
working with all our partners to build stronger campaigns, to deliver more effective results and test new opportunities with confidence and rigour.
“I’m a media planner”
“...so you make adverts?”
“No, I put adverts where they need to go so that the correct people see them”
This is the general conversation I have when someone asks “So, what do you do?” Truthfully, media agencies are far more complex than the insultingly short explanation I give, but this is how I have always viewed my role; I need to reach a certain audience? Great, let’s find out who they are, what they do and where they interact with touch points I can influence. Based on this we will decide where to place the creative messaging, confident that our audience will see this and, hopefully, carry out the desired action following this.
So imagine my dismay when reports began circulating that, actually, what we think we are placing in front of our audience isn’t always being delivered or viewed as we expect. In particular, we are talking about digital advertising, the channel we have viewed as truly accountable with our tracking capabilities and RTB functionalities to ensure we get in front of that ‘perfect fit audience’. The findings state that not all of the views being reported are ‘true’ as such; they are appearing below the fold, being layered beneath other ads, appearing on unwanted sites and so on. The list is, not endless, but not particularly short either.
The implications of this revelation had the potential to change the way we view digital activity and the role it plays within the media mix.
But fear not, we live in a digital age, and with a digital problem comes a digital solution. The topic dominating conversation in media, at the moment, is ad verification.
What is Ad Verification? The IAB define it as:
Ad verification is a service that offers technology to ensure that ads appear on intended sites and reach the targeted audience.
Whilst a more detailed explanation from Double Verify was:
A system that ensures every ad impression is a quality impression, every impression is compliant, and every ad was served and displayed exactly as intended.
In essence, it is doing exactly what it says on the tin, verifying the ad was placed where and in front of who we wanted. It is a system that will give us greater control and transparency on the activity we run, which in turn will generate greater insight into our audience and help us to ensure our campaigns are as targeted as possible. Although still in the early stages of implementation, ad verification is already becoming a core part of digital plans, with clients looking to ensure their money is being invested in the best places and media agencies looking to validate the media recommendations made.
With this technology becoming ever more present and integral to all digital plans we will hopefully be able to get a more accurate indication into online performance and how people interact and react to our advertising. The next few months will be interesting to see how and if this impacts on the way we view digital, will there be any surprising revelations about audience habits, site performance? This is all to be revealed.
In addition to the greater insight and benefits this will bring to our roles, I’m glad that I don’t have to come up with another way to describe what I do, with ad verification we can be even more certain that we are placing our ads where they need to go so that the correct people are truly able to see them.
Another year begins, and I reflect on 2013 as the year that technology brought mass disruption to our industry. At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the view across La Croisette was dominated by digital media owners – Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Twitter and so on – their supersized logos a stark visual representation of the shift towards an increasingly tech-driven, ad-served world.
Few would argue that the dramatic advances in programmatic processes that allow us to target audiences with informed precision are not a positive step. We’re seeing a huge amount of attention and investment around advertising technology – and some say that media has become just as important as the message. But contrary to what many might have us believe, all ad trading is not, in my view, going to become programmatic.
In time, the best ad tech providers will rise to the top as the market becomes leaner and tighter and the hype eventually settles. I predict that the shift in the industry will be more balanced at 60/40 programmatic /reserved media in the next two years.
Our business is founded on efficiency; we embrace technology that makes our work more effective and less expensive while helping us to manage complexities. The proportion of reserved media we’re buying is undoubtedly shrinking, while the machine-to-machine is growing. Most interesting to me is the crossover point, where we can now start to use technology for premium inventory.
Crucially, there will always be a role for the human touch here to apply a certain ‘magic’ to media buying decisions. Data is, after all, a virtuous circle of refinement, and only when analysis and insight are applied does it sharpen to become smart data. The more data we generate, the more refined we can become and the more precise and effective our targeting is. Understanding context, audiences and developing partnership ideas will never boil down to an algorithm; the human perspective is absolutely vital to keep that circle spinning.
What we’re also seeing is a clear distinction between the approach we take for outcome-based work and brand sentiment campaigns. So, the maths comes in when a client needs 5000 more broadband sign-ups this week, for example. But when a client asks why their brand isn’t more loved by a certain part of the market, that’s when we will always need the Mad Men magic – the human touch.
I’m often asked if the traditional media planner and buyer role is under threat. In fact, this shift is great news for planners as their role becomes more strategy-focused. There is absolutely still a call for brilliant planner-buyers who form relationships with media owners – where we continue to value the media brand and premium content. It is these negotiation skills that secure the best possible placement and added value for clients. So, the human element breathes life and context into work in a way that exchanges alone cannot.
To complement the more traditional media skillset, we’re hiring a new breed of talent we call ‘mathematicians’, who bring mathematical flair and a different approach to problem-solving. We also hire a mix of ‘heads up, heads down’ people. ‘Heads down’ people bring analytical brilliance, providing technical wizardry that makes for effective campaigns. ‘Heads up’ folk have the ability to translate technical detail to client and colleagues. Striking the right team balance is definitely a challenge, but create the right environment and they will come.
Technology is radically changing the way media agencies operate at the core. As digital has increased distribution possibilities and made media buying more complex, we have to change fast or sink. Yet as we use advanced technology to power efficient media buying, let’s also strive to retain the softer side, the more discoverable, engaging and contextual elements of planning.
Advertising has to reach the right people at the right time with the right message, and only with the right fusion of maths and magic do we achieve truly meaningful engagement.
Say the words ‘Christmas Advert’ and a few brands come to mind straight away. Coca-Cola for one – the minute the first Coke advert is shown on TV my Facebook feed fills up with statements that ‘Christmas is finally here.’
This year, there have been some highly anticipated Christmas campaigns from the likes of John Lewis and Sainsbury’s, who for the past couple of years have made eyes well up with stories of Snowmen and the little moments making Christmas special. It’s safe to say neither have disappointed, with John Lewis’ ‘The Bear and the Hare’ causing some Twitter users to well up - @sailorjennie ‘Oh don't mind me...just casually sobbing away watching the John Lewis Christmas advert! It gets me every single year!’ and @Eeeeagle saying ‘So this year's John Lewis Christmas advert is a winner, in my book. Absolutely trumps last year's by a mile! #bearandhare.’ The campaign was primarily a TV campaign, however had a strong social presence and was heavily supported in-store with promotional toys and presents for children.
Sainsbury’s ‘Christmas in a Day’ was inspired by Kevin MacDonald’s award-winning ‘Life in a Day’ movie, the 45 minute film features a series of ordinary people celebrating on Christmas day in footage filmed by themselves. Sainsbury’s have edited down the film in order to show on TV, however much of their exposure has again, has inevitably come from social media. Interestingly, the retailer has spent as much in social media as they have on TV, reflecting the desire to get consumers to engage with your brand, rather than just passively consuming. In the same vein, Sainsbury’s, in contrast to John Lewis, state that Digital lies at the heart of their campaign - with the full film being housed on YouTube, in an effort to get as many people as possible to see the campaign.
While both of these campaigns have tugged on the heart strings, the ever controversial Harvey Nichols have promoted the pleasure in receiving (from yourself) over the pleasure of giving in their ad campaign ‘Sorry I spent it on myself.’ While shoppers are celebrating their new dress or shoes, friends and family can be happy with Harvey Nick’s range of small gifts - such as toothpicks, or a set of paperclips. With the reasoning that the only queue longer than the one on Christmas Eve is the returns queue on Boxing Day, Harvey Nichols hope to spark up a viral storm and is encouraging people to film reactions of their friends and family on opening a gift (such as the ‘elastic band’ gift set) the ‘Sorry I spent it on myself’ range. Something that anyone who has seen the Jimmy Kimmel sketch ‘I Gave My Kids a Terrible Present’ will know is likely to ensue in hilarity… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4a9CKgLprQ
So whether you are using a new alarm clock allowing you to wake up to spend Christmas with your loved ones, are celebrating in a multitude of ways that may or may not include a Santa Run on the beach, or are giving or receiving terrible presents that is then filmed and put on YouTube, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!