Maxus Mouth

An Evening With Sheryl Sandberg

By Jen Smith - Head of Planning on 16/04/2014


Last night I went to The Guardian to see the now infamous Sheryl Sandberg, be interviewed regarding her new book.  This is the second book following her International best seller of Lean In, the purpose of which is to provide a little more practical help on how women (and in particular new graduates) can actively Lean In, and hear more stories (and voices) from other women who have done just that.

Sheryl was a very impressive speaker, with the right balance of performance towards the incredibly positive audience she was addressing.  The main points of her argument clearly struck a chord, and she defended criticism and challenges from the interviewer well.

It clearly is something she feels incredibly passionate about, and she embraces the debate from her critics because at least the subject is being kept in discussion.  

Honesty was a reoccurring theme from her; in her personal style regarding this crusade – she knows that she is speaking about this from a privileged position, but with an honest acknowledgement of this and an arsenal of very strong (and saddening) facts and figures she was able to articulate the inequality around us.  Honesty was also the overwhelming theme of how she believes this inequality is best challenged; from having an honest conversation with your partner about what really constitutes an equal partnership, to honestly acknowledging that women may not be progressing up the ladder because of cognitive discrimination but because ‘men are scared to be alone in a room with a woman’; and the realities of human nature are we favour and support individuals we are friends with and like.  If a male boss never spends time with female employees but is comfortable building a support group amongst male colleagues on the golf course or pub, then really the problem becomes self-perpetuating.

There was one interesting moment in the evening when the interviewer challenged Sheryl’s real commitment to the cause of inequality, stating that if you really want to make a change then the only way you can really instigate this is from within a government structure. – Individuals and business can really only do so much, without fundamental change in government policy women will always be fighting to swim upstream in a tide flowing the other way.

Her response was exactly the same as she has answered this question before: a small change is still a change, and she loves her job and has no desire to change that at the moment.

But she also said she was nervous of any one person becoming the spokesperson for ‘women’ everywhere, and that her hope is that by instigating one-on-one change at a small level maybe one of those women who are naturally inclined to a political future will take on the mantel into government.

It was an impressive talk from an impressive and very likeable woman, and walking away you felt that the responsibility for change does not lie in one singular place.  As individuals we need to ‘sit at the table’ and unashamedly close the ‘ambition gap’; as corporations we need to be mindful of instinctive prejudices from building exclusive support networks and automatically labelling ‘leadership behaviours’ in women as ‘aggressive’; and at a government level more needs to be done to free women to have ‘choice’ through policy.

It is sad that in today we are still having the debate as to why there are not enough women sitting at the leadership table, and it is a complicated issue for which there is more than one pressure point. 

Ultimately, however, as an optimist I still believe that the biggest way to achieve great things is to have a go at doing great things.  To actively Lean In, and get your hands dirty.  For me this is much better articulated by another Cheryl – Cheryl Strayed.  Who wrote in her book giving advice to another woman who wished to be a writer but felt she was being held back by inherent discrimination.

“Don’t write like a man, don’t write like a woman.  Write like a mother-f***er”

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It’s the way you tell it….

By Jen Smith - Head of Planning on 31/03/2014


So when is a divorce not a divorce? Well when it is a conscious uncoupling and you are Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.   

Within minutes had crashed underneath the weight of visitors, gawping and speculating about this new example of a celebrity partnership imploding.  But even for a society where you regularly hear about bomb threats made to super clever females just because they dared suggest it might be a good idea to have a woman on a bank note; the extent of the vicious comments was incredible.

Because what were we talking about really? A couple of people who by all intense and purposes were very good at their individual jobs, who would give back to society through effort and money, and who seemed for a long while to genuinely seem happy and managed to raise two children who as yet, have not been found blotto outside a drug den.

So why the unbridled glee at their horrible news, why don’t we like them, and what on earth could this have to do with media?  And I think the answer lies in that phrase in the first line ‘conscious uncoupling’, because it feels phoney, it feels like they are trying to be something they are not, and in a country who has the idiom: call a spade a spade, it jars against our natural tendencies and internal instinct to identify a charlatan.

Which got me thinking as to why didn’t they just call their uncoupling a divorce?  As a couple they have built a certain degree a mythology around themselves, and new-age terminology is part of this along with a macro-biotic diet and the Tracy Anderson exercise method.  It feels that the language they use to talk about themselves has become deliberately complicated and obtuse in order to separate themselves from us.  It’s almost as if it is a barrier to protect the ‘secret’ – psssst don’t tell anyone but really anyone can have this life / body / success, but in order to make it feel ‘difficult’ and ‘hard’ we will wrap it up in terms that will confuse the average Joe.

And that is really not too dis-similar to the average day in a media agency.  Acronyms – CPT, CPA ASBOF, UGC, KPI’s and SEM:  Phrases – engagement, native, demographics, real-time adaptive, deliverables, customer empowerment. A lot of words which distance ourselves from the average Joe, to allow us to sprinkle science and sparkle onto what we do; and without deliberately doing a dis-service to the wonderfully intelligent people I work with, can build the mythology around our jobs.  

And I suppose I am beginning to wonder if, like Gwyneth and Chris, we might be doing ourselves and those we deal with a disservice?  Because all the people I work with are good people, trying to strive to do things a bit smarter, and a bit faster and with a bit more magic.  And our regular practise in the dark-arts of myth creating, might just be distancing ourselves from the people we need to engage with?  Maybe we need to learn a lesson from Gwyneth and Chris and smash the protective bubble around ourselves and start to talk the talk.

We might make a few more friends along the way and deliver some amazing work that the ‘average Joe’ see’s, likes and maybe, just maybe, does something of the back of it.

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Mystery Facebook/Instagram ‘selfie’ appeal shows the true power of social media

By Jen Smith - Head of Planning on 26/03/2014

If you have been anywhere near Facebook or Instagram over the last week then your timeline will have been filled with an overwhelming number of online viagra in 24h your friends and family uploading photos of themselves with the #nomakeupselfie and variants of this (left).

This internet ‘meme’ has come under a lot of criticism in the wake of the influx of soft-focus photo uploads. Not least because the origins of this phenomenon are slightly dubious. It does not seem to a considered campaign by any of order viagra the cancer charities, but breast cancer seems to be reaping the benefit with more and more uploads urging you to text ‘cure’ to 70099. In fact according to The Telegraph £8m has been raised in six days for Cancer Research UK.

The criticism has also flooded in that this is at its heart a self-indulgent activity by participants to receive messages of ladies viagra support from their friends to affirm to them that they are ‘gorgeous’, and ‘don’t need make-up to look good’. With an additional wave of criticism that ‘what on earth has this to do with cancer’? and, how is cialis pills cheapest price worldwide going without make-up ‘brave’ in any way?

To be honest, they are all right; but surely the big question in the wake of such a phenomenal response is ‘does it matter’?

For me this campaign works because it utilises the driving factors of the media channel it is communicated in well. And these factors are overwhelmingly a little bit narcissistic and self-indulgent. It works because rather than a charity appealing to your altruistic self to do something good, cialis generic brand name differences it asks people to do something that is inherently appealing to the audience – who doesn’t want affirmation from their friends that they really are not a dogs-dinner first thing in the morning, pre-slap?

It’s also easy to do, no real effort required except maybe access to a soft-focus lens to soften the impact of your pillow-lines and a text number to type in.

Placing it on Facebook has the added incentive of tapping into the ‘social proof’ we all talk about – seeing other people doing it, seeing the volume of participants (the added benefit of ‘tagging’ mates means that immediately your social circle widens as you can see friends of friends who have taken part and tagged your nearest and dearest), and importantly seeing the support they are all receiving makes it compelling and slightly shaming if you have not participated.

The alternative would have been to start with the business or brand problem – everyone supports cancer charities as a good thing, everyone knows about our charity, but no one donates on a regular basis, what do we do? You could clearly have seen that this would have resulted in a brand centric message, tugging at the heart strings of the audience which would be lost in a sea of other charity messages. It would have ticked all the boxes in what should work, cheap generic viagra substitute and yet would not have had anywhere near the impact of the last week.

In short, what has happened over the last week is a campaign which has started with the media channel, understood the motivations of the audience when consuming and participating in this environment and then made a campaign which works here. It might be a little narcissistic but it sure as hell has worked.

Category: Media | Comments...

Watch Out, Watch Out, There's a Bot About

By Tim Irwin - Chief Operating Officer on 24/03/2014


There are shady characters lurking in darkened rooms, in some of the less developed markets around the globe, re-directing ad impression revenue to their own murky bank accounts. Sounds all a bit Jason Bourne doesn’t it? Worse than that though, allegedly there are
also unscrupulous large online publishers deliberately inflating impression volume for their own gains.

No one seems to really know the scale of this problem, although the litigious leaning
Americans see it as an even bigger issue than us on this side of the Atlantic. Estimates vary
enormously but on the more conservative end, Integral Ad Science estimate that 15% of all internet impressions are fraudulent. Whatever the percentage, it’s billions of dollars of global ad revenue.

Not exactly a drop in the Cyber Ocean and certainly not something to be ignored.

This raises two big questions for brand owners and agencies: Is this important to me? And
what should I be doing about it?

But first, what exactly is meant by online fraud?

Depressingly there are a huge number of scams, something for everyone if you will. They include :

Bot Traffic - non human traffic designed to mimic users and inflate audience numbers. The
program imitates legitimate users by repeatedly loading the page or ad for the purpose of
generating higher fees in CPM advertising.

Pixel Stuffing – stuffing an ad into a 1x1 (i.e. invisible) pixel at the bottom of the page.

Ad Stacking – placing multiple ads on top of one another in a single ad placement.

Online fraud is essentially a volume game driven by the demand to drive huge numbers
of impressions at the lowest possible cost. Consequently media buys that deliver high
volume inventory at low prices, such as Ad Networks & Real Time Bidding, are the easiest

So question one, is this important?

Well of course. No one wants to be ripped off do they? So we should be doing all we can to stop it. But it runs deeper than that.

Online display advertising seems to be going through its difficult teenage years at the moment. Media vendors have more to concern themselves than just fraud. There’s also privacy, viewability, brand safety. The list goes on and on. In some ways it would be easy for advertisers to put their online display budgets in the too difficult box. But that would be a short term  response to a long term problem. For starters RTB has generated enormous benefits to advertisers and has helped reduce ad pricing and improve performance. More to the point, online buying techniques and the benefits of programmatically traded ad space aren’t confined to the ubiquitous online banner. Programmatic buying is likely to become the pre–eminent
technique for all screen based media, so it’s incumbent on all parties to address the post pubescent online display challenges.

Which takes us nicely on to question two, what should we be doing about it?

Broadly the response to online fraud, whether from publishers, advertisers or media buyers,
falls into three areas:

(i) Technology
We can fight fire with fire through technology. Publishers need to continue to invest in Bot identifying software and all parties should use ad verification techniques to truly understand the scale of the problem and the level of fraud inflicting individual sites or groups of sites.

(ii) Due Diligence
All respectable media buyers will have built black lists (GroupM’s covers a whopping 40,000 sites) and buyers should only ever use sites that have been validated through 3rd parties. But respectable publishers and agencies also need to use human intervention to spot irregular activity that looks like fraud. This needs to be done at a domain and a seller level.

iii) Think Differently
Finally we all need to beprepared to think a bit differently. At a trading level this might simply mean changing the buying currency from an easily mimicked click to something no bot would be prepared to do, spend money.  Cost per acquisition deals might not be everyone’s cup of
tea but they’ll never work for the fraudsters.

Other media have experienced degrees of fraud, whether it’s the multiple copies of the same free newspaper that get shoved though your letter box or the legitimately paid-for billboard that gets covered with flyposters. But online fraud, and all the programmatically bought channels that are to come, is a little different. This is a multi-billion dollar challenge, but one that with a cohesive approach from all parties can be overcome.

Category: Media | Comments...

Why the future of advertising belongs as much to the Maths Men and Women as it does the Mad Men

By Harry Davison - Effectiveness Director on 14/03/2014


Sir Martin Sorrell wasn’t being controversial when he said, “that the future of advertising and marketing services belongs as much to Maths Men and women as it does to Mad Men “, he was stating the obvious.  His comparison of the media industry to the fund management industry is spot on and can lead to some great analogies.  We both advise our clients on how much to invest and whereas fund management deals in investment vehicles we deal in media channels.  For example response marketing can be seen as our equivalent of income stocks whereas Brand marketing is our growth stocks.  In media using maths to split budgets isn’t new; we’ve always used some sort of maths or stats from the crude rule of thumb to advanced analytics like econometrics.  The rise of digital has just made this job more complicated as the number of channels has increased.  What is new is the amount of information we have available to analyse, the speed at which we can collect it and within some channels the pace with which we can optimise our investments.

The opportunity for clients is simply to improve the return on their investment, giving them more for the same or the same for less.  We will do this by using the influx of data available and the speed that we can use it to optimise the channel mix to both maximise and the speed at which we can accomplish this.  Some channels are already there, in search for instance we can change what we want to buy and how much we want to pay almost instantaneous and this will increase and spread across the digital channels as they turn to programmatic buying strategies or similar.  Of course there are still huge challenges to address, both in the analysis and the technology.   There is a tendency to confuse association with causation and working out the best variables to optimise against is going to be an ongoing challenge, not made any easier by the sheer volume of available data.  There are challenges on the tech side too as anyone who has tried to work with cross channel data sources will have experienced.  To improve and to take full advantage of what technology could allow us to do we’re going to need to employ and increasing number of Maths men (and women), to both build models and to implement them.

As Sir Martin points out our relationship with our clients is changing too.   We have to talk with people outside the marketing department.  The return on media investment, the point of our work, has to be extrapolated from our Clients data.  It will become increasingly important that we are building relationships with the people who are best placed to tell us this, at the speed of which we want to be able to optimise our investments.  This means that our relationship with Chief Information Officers and Chief Technical Officers and their teams will become ever more important.

Changing the way we want to plan media will alter the channels we want to use too.  It’s not good enough just to know how to increase return you also need to be able to effect the change.  This is where digital channels have a huge advantage over traditional media.  In search or display we can change what we want to buy and how much we want to pay almost instantaneously.  TV’s two month lag feels like an eternity when compared to this and adds an intangible cost to using the channel.

Conversely as engineers and computer scientists have developed machines that can perform twenty thousand trillion calculations a second the value of good Maths brains is higher than ever.  Being able to sift the gold from the deluge of data being produced and then being able to use this to gain advantage is a real talent and those who have it will become increasingly in demand.  Clients will know that those that embrace data and the optimisation strategies will out compete those that don’t.  Therefore our clients are going to demand that we provide this for them and either we do or they’ll go to the agency down the road that will.  Clearly this doesn’t mean we’ll be able to function without the Mad men and women, they’re still just as vital as ever.  If anything they’ll have to be even more on top of their game as their work comes under ever increasing scrutiny.  The Maths men and women won’t replace the Mad Men but they’ll become instrumental in making their great work more successful.

Category: Media | Comments...

Day 3 SXSW - Being More Creative

By Rebecca Ridgwell - Senior Planner on 10/03/2014

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:


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Brains, Balls & Myths

By Jen Smith - Head of Planning on 09/03/2014

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.

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When I Get A Real Job

By Jen Smith - Head of Planning on 09/03/2014

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!

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SXSW - WOW - Day One

By Rebecca Ridgwell - Senior Planner on 08/03/2014

Maxus 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.

Tom Kelshaw is the Director of Technology & Co-Founder of Metalworks. Here he provides his top tips for newcomers to SXSW...


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!

Maxus 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.

Tom Kelshaw is the Director of Technology & Co-Founder of Metalworks. Here he provides his top tips for newcomers to SXSW...

Category: Media | Comments...

Why human brands will win in a digital world

By Stuart Butler - Head of Strategy on 25/02/2014

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, 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.

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