Tagged: brands

Brands on the edge of a cultural breakdown

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Let’s connect a few dots around the idea of brands.

After the Forrester Marketing Leadership Forum in London, I finally caught up with this James Surowiecki article from February’s New Yorker, Twilight of the Brands. The gist of it – consumers need brands less than the brand marketing industry thinks they do…

It’s a truism of business-book thinking that a company’s brand is its “most important asset,” more valuable than technology or patents or manufacturing prowess. But brands have never been more fragile. The reason is simple: consumers are supremely well informed and far more likely to investigate the real value of products than to rely on logos. “Absolute Value,” a new book by Itamar Simonson, a marketing professor at Stanford, and Emanuel Rosen, a former software executive, shows that, historically, the rise of brands was a response to an information-poor environment. When consumers had to rely on advertisements and their past experience with a company, brands served as proxies for quality; if a car was made by G.M., or a ketchup by Heinz, you assumed that it was pretty good. 

Connect this with The Economist piece on the collapse of trust between people and advertisers, as the industry continues to optimise for interruption marketing that no one really wants…

Havas Media, a big marketing agency, says trust in them has been declining for three decades. Last August it published the latest in a series of worldwide surveys, in which 134,000 consumers in 23 countries were asked what they thought of 700 brands. A majority of those taking part would not care if 73% of them just vanished. In Europe and America 92% would not be missed. Only in places like Asia and Latin America, with lots of newish consumers, is there a bit more attachment to brands, though Havas Media reports that it is declining there too.

Fracking the social web, as John Willshire calls the relentless chasing of consumer attention by any and all technological means, is part of all this.

And meanwhile brand marketing is losing the brightest and best talent to adjacent, more digital, agile and innovative industries, as agency CEO John Winsor wrote in post at The Guardian:

Every day the best and brightest young talent leaves the industry to join (or just bypass the industry all together) digital alternatives from start-ups to established digital players and other, more innovative established players in other industries (IDEO is an example). They might think of themselves in the marketing and advertising businesses but they don’t want to take the traditional path. Working their way up through the creative ranks not only seems too slow but much too political and bureaucratic.

In a couple of weeks’ time the Cannes Lions festival of advertising will kick off. The last day, Saturday, is innovation day. Maybe next year, that should come at the beginning.

Connecting some dots around social, earned and satisfaction

Working through the connections between these things…

Oliver Blanchard says:

If you treat earned media like paid media long enough, you will teach it to act like paid media.

…This is connected with the idea we explored that editors should be in charge of paid digital media (or at least have control of their own budgets) m- treating paid like earned could be a lot more useful than the other way around.

…It’s another angle on what John Willshire discusses in his series of presentations on the idea of “fracking the social web“. The race for Likes and shares and and views leaves depleted culture and relationships in its wake.

…Andy Whitlock says in this deck that creating noise (chasing attention) isn’t always the best approach. Platforms and products are ways of creating long term value, long term relationships, he says.

…This connects with why at Brilliant Noise we’ve talked more about earning advocacy than earning media, or even earning attention. The media’s not the point, the customer is… and they couldn’t give a fig for brands, most of the time.

Which also reminds me of an interesting Twitter conversation yesterday between Mat Morrison, Jon and Professor Byron about brands and satisfaction:

 

Hat tip to Anne McCrossan for pointing me to the Oliver Blanchard article.

Crocombe’s postcards from WPP Stream

Marketing services giant WPP holds its own tech events  looking at what’s coming next in digital – WPP Stream

Ian Crocombe, head of strategy at Possible – has posted a nice, concise account of his favourite bits from the October unconference – a kind of set of slide postcards… 

Well worth a read for the Kit Kat/Android case study, insights on wearable fashion and other nuggets such as “building YouTube subscribers today is being attacjed with same vigor as a brand manager trying to get a million Facebook fans in 2008.”

Myth-busting brand communications

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McDonald’s Canada is being transparent. That is to say it is going out and answering even seemingly awkward questions as directly as it can. 

The results are disarming, even charming at times.

Whether it is explaining how French Fries are made or how photos of Big Macs in ads differ from the actual product

According to Fast Co-Create

Since the campaign began, McDonald’s Canada has fielded more than 14,000 questions and responded with text on the website, photos, and the YouTube videos, which have earned millions of views. There are currently 7,100 questions and answers live on the site.

When there are lots of myths around a big brand, it’s a very good idea to go and bust as many of them as you can… 

 

Reckitt’s strategic approach to Facebook marketing

Reckitt Benckheiser is taking social media seriously enough to start joint business planning with Facebook, according to AdAge:

Reckitt Benckiser, like other packaged-goods players, has long done business planning with major retailers such as Walmart and Target, where it maps out long-term promotional products and marketing programs. Now, RB is applying the concept to Facebook. Continue reading

Six brilliant things social businesses and brands do

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Image: an excerpt from Strories, Numbers & Conversations. 

So, this week my company, Brilliant Noise, published its first paper: Stories, Numbers & Conversations: Nokia’s principles for social media.

It may sound strange to say about a strategy paper, but it was a labour of love, and Endless Studios did a great job on making it look beautiful too.

During our work with Nokia, we had the opportunity to revisit some of our favourite case studies of businesses that were using social media, as well as taking a look at some new ones. Continue reading

Brands should think like talent, not publishers

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Brands publishers” is a very useful metaphor: it’s helped us explore the possibilities of inbound media, weaning marketing off the idea that attention is something you just pay for. But is it the right metaphor, or can it be limiting, at the very moment that we need to be thinking in a more open way?

Publishers may not be the best role models

In the excitement and head-nodding that discussion of “brand publishers” has stirred up we have not often enough paused to question the role model we are taking on. You know that all is not very rosy in the publishing garden, right? This is an industry being ravaged by web-based disruption as much, if not more, than any other.  Continue reading

“Gravity-defying” TV advertising in danger of a crash

Business Insider editor Henry Blodget reckons that what happened to newspapers in the last decade is about to happen to TV: an advertising collapse.

Decline was worried about by newspapers for a long time, but denial and hope prevailed until things, well, fell off a cliff:

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Against this picture of doom, you could offer a number of statistics that seem to point in the opposite direction. People still spend more time with TV than any other medium, much of it with live TV. It occupies so much of our time – on average – that it looks unassailable as our preferred medium.

And yet… we could be still approaching the edge of that cliff, if the advertising budgets are about to switch away.  Continue reading

The flawed optimism of digital advertising models

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“Do you do any work on how annoying you are?” – Peter Day to an ad re-targeter…

In Business, the podcast by the BBC’s Peter Day, is something I have enjoyed for years. Every now and again he does a programme which is so exactly pertinent to things I’m working on that I listen to the whole thing with a broad grin, while a sort of Hallelujah chorus jangles about in the back of my mind while I am listening…

For Your Information was one of those. I’ll be coming back to some of the trains of thought that departed this particular station in some future blog posts, especially its focus on information overload’s effects on productivity and organisational effectiveness, which connects directly with the web superskills theme I talked about at TEDx in January.

For now, the thought I want to share is one sparked by a comment that Peter Day made to a online advertising re-targeter: “Do you do any work on how annoying you are?”

He was talking about the irritation he might feel when an ad for something he searched for days ago followed him around for days afterward.

The response wasn’t convincing. Of course you don’t want to annoy your potential customers, said the re-targeter, and they provide tools to help you not blitz people.

I wonder how many users of the system calibrate in that way?

Re-targeting is just the latest in a long line of advertising technologies and innovations – latterly mostly in digital – which promise – and often deliver – “uplift”, greater click-throughs, sales, awareness etc. than previous methods.

There are two broad responses to an ad following you around the web. The first is “Wow, that’s cool!” The second is a raised eyebrow, a suspicious sneer, a question: “Why is that happening? How do they know who I am? What elese do they know?”

Response one typically comes from, er, people in digital advertising. The second, in my experience, comes from anyone else.

The steady flow of privacy nightmare stories and Facebookphobia in the media and generally in people’s consciousness is raising a – probably healthy – scepticism about online media. The more digitally literate the average user becomes the more they question what is happening to their personal data and how it is being used.

Wishful thinking on the part of online media companies and digital agencies means that not enough work is going into thinking about this growing, fundamental user need.

Apart from the inconvenience of facing up to the possibility that people might not want to play exactly the role alloted for them in the great media/marketing ecosystem, the digital advertising industry is let down by a kind of fatal optimism. They only want to look at the good news in the data and not the bad.

The thing is, that the bad news might be as useful, even more useful than the bad.

To illustrate, take a look at “success” in a typical online display campaign. A clickthrough rate of  0.2%.

Doesn’t matter what happened to the other 99.8%, i.e. most people. They simply weren’t interessted enough to look.

When it comes to re-targeted ads, social ads, etc., the clickthrough rate improves over that of typical ads. I wonder if annoyance and negative feelings to brands using these techniques does too?

Clues about what people don’t like in ads - signals of dissatisfaction, if you like – abound, but it always the positive outcome on which paid media professionals are focused. Maybe there would be more use in looking at all the data, including the damage you may be doing your own cause?