Tagged: marketing

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?

 

 

 

Business in Networks: Internet World Kongress, Munich – notes and links

These are the notes and slides for my talk at Internet World Kongress & Fachmesse, given today in Munich. I believe a livestream of the talk is available on the website and there may also be an archive with slides.

This talk is about how business is being disrupted by the web and the things we can do to adapt successfully, both at the organisational and personal level.

It combines some of the elements from two talks I gave earlier in the year: the web Super Skills I discussed at TEDx Brighton and the ideas about disruption, change management and Glasnost moments I talked about at CityCamp Brighton.

Here are the key points and relevant links:

Digital marketing at the edge of business transformation

  • We’re having some fun here, but just a bit. So obviously, I am talking to a room of digital marketers, so the idea of being at the leading edge is attractive, so is the idea that they have the stuff that is required to be the leaders of their wider organsiations.
  • The point is that they are closest in some ways to the web’s disruption of business. They have the tools and the need to adapt fastest, so the insights they gain may be what business as whole needs.

Business as usual to revolution as usual

  • The context is that we are living and will be living in a time of constant change, of permanent revolution.
  • Marc Andreesen explain this particularly well – as I’ve mentioned before. The web is pure software, we can keep reinventing it.

The Everywhere Web

  • Buzzwords are the hamster wheel of digital media and thinking clearly. We spend a lot of energy getting nowhere.
  • Two or three years ago, after a talks about Twitter people were asking what’s the next big thing after Twitter?
  • Better to udnerstand the big trends and call them what they are. I think about the social web, the data deluge and the everywhere web as the big meta trends.

Networks Thinking

  • We need to level up our thinking to deal with complexity. A friend of mine studying creativity at Goldsmiths introduced me to “threshold concepts”. they are ideas you really have to grasp before you can understand a whole lot of other things.
  • Networks are one of these, perhaps the most important for our age. We think we understand networks, but we really don’t a lot of the time.
  • When you are a German learning English you realise there are “false friends”, (“falsche Freunde“) words which sound or look the same in both languages but mean different things, e.g. “Gift” in German means “poison” rather than a present.
  • We don’t grasp how magnificently, terrifyingly complex networks are. We like to draw pictures of them and then think we’ve captured their meaning, when they are more like the weather – always changing, hyper-complex. Predictable if you are smart and have a huge amount of data and training, but only to a point and only some of the time. (There’s mileage in that weather forecasting analogy – I’d like to come up with it.

Platform-ism

  • One of the traps we fall into when we are thinking about networks is “platform-ism”.
  • We see Facebook as a proxy for the web, as a our new TV channel, we see Likes or Fans or Followers on Twitter as the gauge of our success without taking the time to understand our networks.

Accidental influencers

  • Another mistake we make is to think that influence is something fairly straightforward in networks.
  • To be sure there is a celebrity effect – when someone with a huge amount of followers on Twitter plugs a charity or website it gets a lot of traffic (sometimes). But influence is not as predictable or as straightforward as we think.
  • We fall prey to what psychologists call “narrative bias” – we think we see how things work, think it is obvious after the facts. Duncan Watts’s new book will deal with this subject in some detail.
  • Duncan Watts coined the lovely phrase “accidental influencers” to describe how unpredictable influence in networks can be…
  • Talking about networks with some mathematicians last week one remarked that place, location in a network might be the thing that best predicts influence, rather than popularity.

References / further reading

And as I mentioned, for more on Superskills see my notes from my TEDx presentation and for more on Glasnost moments and LOOP take a look at the notes from my City Camp presentation

Lastly, my book Me and My Web Shadow is available from your local Amazon (in Germany it is here) and other good retailers (well ones with large inventories) :)

If you saw the talk at Internet World Kongress or on the livestream and have any questions or feedback please do let me know.

ZZ1A4C91A9.jpg


Business in Networks: Internet World Kongress, Munich – notes and links

These are the notes and slides for my talk at Internet World Kongress & Fachmesse, given today in Munich. I believe a livestream of the talk is available on the website and there may also be an archive with slides.

This talk is about how business is being disrupted by the web and the things we can do to adapt successfully, both at the organisational and personal level.

It combines some of the elements from two talks I gave earlier in the year: the web Super Skills I discussed at TEDx Brighton and the ideas about disruption, change management and Glasnost moments I talked about at CityCamp Brighton.

Here are the key points and relevant links:

Digital marketing at the edge of business transformation

  • We’re having some fun here, but just a bit. So obviously, I am talking to a room of digital marketers, so the idea of being at the leading edge is attractive, so is the idea that they have the stuff that is required to be the leaders of their wider organsiations.
  • The point is that they are closest in some ways to the web’s disruption of business. They have the tools and the need to adapt fastest, so the insights they gain may be what business as whole needs.

Business as usual to revolution as usual

  • The context is that we are living and will be living in a time of constant change, of permanent revolution.
  • Marc Andreesen explain this particularly well – as I’ve mentioned before. The web is pure software, we can keep reinventing it.

The Everywhere Web

  • Buzzwords are the hamster wheel of digital media and thinking clearly. We spend a lot of energy getting nowhere.
  • Two or three years ago, after a talks about Twitter people were asking what’s the next big thing after Twitter?
  • Better to udnerstand the big trends and call them what they are. I think about the social web, the data deluge and the everywhere web as the big meta trends.

Networks Thinking

  • We need to level up our thinking to deal with complexity. A friend of mine studying creativity at Goldsmiths introduced me to “threshold concepts”. they are ideas you really have to grasp before you can understand a whole lot of other things.
  • Networks are one of these, perhaps the most important for our age. We think we understand networks, but we really don’t a lot of the time.
  • When you are a German learning English you realise there are “false friends”, (“falsche Freunde“) words which sound or look the same in both languages but mean different things, e.g. “Gift” in German means “poison” rather than a present.
  • We don’t grasp how magnificently, terrifyingly complex networks are. We like to draw pictures of them and then think we’ve captured their meaning, when they are more like the weather – always changing, hyper-complex. Predictable if you are smart and have a huge amount of data and training, but only to a point and only some of the time. (There’s mileage in that weather forecasting analogy – I’d like to come up with it.

Platform-ism

  • One of the traps we fall into when we are thinking about networks is “platform-ism”.
  • We see Facebook as a proxy for the web, as a our new TV channel, we see Likes or Fans or Followers on Twitter as the gauge of our success without taking the time to understand our networks.

Accidental influencers

  • Another mistake we make is to think that influence is something fairly straightforward in networks.
  • To be sure there is a celebrity effect – when someone with a huge amount of followers on Twitter plugs a charity or website it gets a lot of traffic (sometimes). But influence is not as predictable or as straightforward as we think.
  • We fall prey to what psychologists call “narrative bias” – we think we see how things work, think it is obvious after the facts. Duncan Watts’s new book will deal with this subject in some detail.
  • Duncan Watts coined the lovely phrase “accidental influencers” to describe how unpredictable influence in networks can be…
  • Talking about networks with some mathematicians last week one remarked that place, location in a network might be the thing that best predicts influence, rather than popularity.

References / further reading

And as I mentioned, for more on Superskills see my notes from my TEDx presentation and for more on Glasnost moments and LOOP take a look at the notes from my City Camp presentation

Lastly, my book Me and My Web Shadow is available from your local Amazon (in Germany it is here) and other good retailers (well ones with large inventories) :)

If you saw the talk at Internet World Kongress or on the livestream and have any questions or feedback please do let me know.

ZZ1A4C91A9.jpg


Business in Networks: Internet World Kongress, Munich – notes and links

These are the notes and slides for my talk at Internet World Kongress & Fachmesse, given today in Munich. I believe a livestream of the talk is available on the website and there may also be an archive with slides.

This talk is about how business is being disrupted by the web and the things we can do to adapt successfully, both at the organisational and personal level.

It combines some of the elements from two talks I gave earlier in the year: the web Super Skills I discussed at TEDx Brighton and the ideas about disruption, change management and Glasnost moments I talked about at CityCamp Brighton.

Here are the key points and relevant links:

Digital marketing at the edge of business transformation

  • We’re having some fun here, but just a bit. So obviously, I am talking to a room of digital marketers, so the idea of being at the leading edge is attractive, so is the idea that they have the stuff that is required to be the leaders of their wider organsiations.
  • The point is that they are closest in some ways to the web’s disruption of business. They have the tools and the need to adapt fastest, so the insights they gain may be what business as whole needs.

Business as usual to revolution as usual

  • The context is that we are living and will be living in a time of constant change, of permanent revolution.
  • Marc Andreesen explain this particularly well – as I’ve mentioned before. The web is pure software, we can keep reinventing it.

The Everywhere Web

  • Buzzwords are the hamster wheel of digital media and thinking clearly. We spend a lot of energy getting nowhere.
  • Two or three years ago, after a talks about Twitter people were asking what’s the next big thing after Twitter?
  • Better to udnerstand the big trends and call them what they are. I think about the social web, the data deluge and the everywhere web as the big meta trends.

Networks Thinking

  • We need to level up our thinking to deal with complexity. A friend of mine studying creativity at Goldsmiths introduced me to “threshold concepts”. they are ideas you really have to grasp before you can understand a whole lot of other things.
  • Networks are one of these, perhaps the most important for our age. We think we understand networks, but we really don’t a lot of the time.
  • When you are a German learning English you realise there are “false friends”, (“falsche Freunde“) words which sound or look the same in both languages but mean different things, e.g. “Gift” in German means “poison” rather than a present.
  • We don’t grasp how magnificently, terrifyingly complex networks are. We like to draw pictures of them and then think we’ve captured their meaning, when they are more like the weather – always changing, hyper-complex. Predictable if you are smart and have a huge amount of data and training, but only to a point and only some of the time. (There’s mileage in that weather forecasting analogy – I’d like to come up with it.

Platform-ism

  • One of the traps we fall into when we are thinking about networks is “platform-ism”.
  • We see Facebook as a proxy for the web, as a our new TV channel, we see Likes or Fans or Followers on Twitter as the gauge of our success without taking the time to understand our networks.

Accidental influencers

  • Another mistake we make is to think that influence is something fairly straightforward in networks.
  • To be sure there is a celebrity effect – when someone with a huge amount of followers on Twitter plugs a charity or website it gets a lot of traffic (sometimes). But influence is not as predictable or as straightforward as we think.
  • We fall prey to what psychologists call “narrative bias” – we think we see how things work, think it is obvious after the facts. Duncan Watts’s new book will deal with this subject in some detail.
  • Duncan Watts coined the lovely phrase “accidental influencers” to describe how unpredictable influence in networks can be…
  • Talking about networks with some mathematicians last week one remarked that place, location in a network might be the thing that best predicts influence, rather than popularity.

References / further reading

And as I mentioned, for more on Superskills see my notes from my TEDx presentation and for more on Glasnost moments and LOOP take a look at the notes from my City Camp presentation

Lastly, my book Me and My Web Shadow is available from your local Amazon (in Germany it is here) and other good retailers (well ones with large inventories) :)

If you saw the talk at Internet World Kongress or on the livestream and have any questions or feedback please do let me know.

ZZ1A4C91A9.jpg


Optimising for attention: what media and marketing need to focus on in 2011

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Here’s a prediction for you (why not, it is New Year’s day).

In 2011, media and marketing will move beyond optimising for platforms and start optimising for attention.

Following a thread of thinking prompted by Sam Michel’s comment earlier on today, I came back to the thing about our repeated mistake of focusing on platforms instead of the things that matter (outcomes, patterns, trends, consequences, behaviours).

Search engine optimisation (SEO), social media, display ads, PR, creative, content, all of these things are too often presented in oppoisition to one another, when really all distract from the central task in hand, winning in the great attention markets of the web.

The only disciplines I wouldn’t include in those would be things would be user experience and community management, both of which, when practised with awareness of networks rather than fixating on a single website or platform, are growing in importance in the digital mix. It amazed me that toward the end of 2010 we were still talking about the relative merits of PR and SEO, as if effective communications

Let’s not waste too much time on playground tactics (no rabbit in a hat tricks) in 2011. Begin and end your thinking about success online with attention: serving it, winning it, earning it.

And with that, here’s some 12 year old hip hop to kick off the New Year. Keep it, er, real…

Customers in networks: slides and notes from ChangePlayBusinesss

ChangePlayBusiness was an unusual event, to say the least, living up to its promise to be an unconference. About 40 innovators and entrepreneurs gathered at the ICA to play a game about creating businesses, the playing of which included connecting with one another (there were a lot of interesting people) and meeting subject matter experts on everything from financing to marketing (which is where I came in).

My role was to deliver a “masterclass” on understanding and communicating with customers in a “changing economy”. I chose to interpret this as an opportunity to talk about businesses in the age of networks, in the age of complexity.

The slides are here for those (with the push/pull error reversed!) who attended the session:

And these are the links that I promised to post:

Blogs become mainstream media

In the hype-sphere the chatter is all about Foursquare and Facebook: blogging doesn’t get much of a mention.

While I still prize blogging as a form of personal media and a networked productivity and knowledge tool, its clear to see that blogs as a media format are mature and in the mainstream.

Two posts I read recently spoke of this. First, in her analysis of Google’s launch of Boutiques.com (well worth a read in itself), iCrossing journalist Jo-Ann Fortune points out that alongside fashion celebrities, the company brought on board fashion bloggers:

…Google has enlisted the help of style icon celebrities such as Olivia Palermo, the Olsen twins and Carey Mulligan and fashion bloggers including Jane of Sea of Shoes, Alix, aka The Cherry Blossom Girl and Susie Lau from London-based Style Bubble, to tell that story. These taste-shapers ‘curate’ their own boutiques, based on their favourite pieces as well as their personal style – the sum of their preferred designers, shapes, patterns and styles-, allowing those inspired by their style to join them on a virtual shopping spree.

The inclusion of fashion bloggers alongside the ‘traditional’ celebrities just goes to show how far this new breed of public personality has come. Stylist.co.uk this week disclosed how three female fashion, beauty and celebrity bloggers make between 35k and 80k a year each, revealing that the brand they build from their blog is worth much more than the blog itself.

And Reed’s blogging expert, Adam Tinworth, points to some marketing by Microsoft for its new phone as evidence of blogs in the mainstream (“another tipping point” as he puts it).

A quote. On a huge advert. In one of the mainline commuter stations. In one of the biggest cities in the world.

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As a media format blogs are still as potentially disruptive as they ever where, but some of them are firmly part of the established media landscape now…

Media in the age of networks: the decay/evolution of advertising models

The Association of Publishing Agencies first International Content Summit was a great event to attend, as a speaker and a delegate. As well as the many inspiring and useful speakers, it was the ambition and optimism of the industry there that was striking.

This is the contract publishing industry, the kinds of publishers that create the supermarket mag, the in-flight periodical, the car brand’s customer title. Largely due to this lack of reliance on advertisers (beyond the client) and cover-price revenue it was a different kind of publishing gathering to ones I’d seen before.

There was little of the web-denial, the over-obsession with iPad as a saviour for the industry, a way of porting old formats (and business models) into the age of the web. The sense I got was of opportunity, of openness to new ideas and possibilities.

As I said in the notes to my talk, the marketing and media sectors are wide open for new approaches, new business models Everything is up for grabs, from content formats to how advertising is sold.

On that last point, I was really impressed by the analysis of the decay of the traditional advertising model presented by William Owen of Made by Many (one of the most interesting firms in this new space). His slides are below, but I recommend taking a look at his blog post which walks through his arguments.

William was set the brief by the APA of answering the following question: “is the traditional [advertising] model dead?”.

His response was to begin with a sensible “no”. Obviously the media buying-centred model of advertising is alive and kicking multi-million pound behinds. But it is decaying, and evolving.

Walking us through possible stages of the advertising model’s evolution (or decay, depending on your point of view), William took us through mass, fragmented, earned media models and arrived at this networked model (I nearly stood and cheered at that point, but this was an English conference so resisted):

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The networked media model. This diagram is really a crude approximation of something much more complex: communities of customers becoming value producers in their own right, creating content, making recommendations, providing thousands of small services to each other. There’s an opportunity for brands to harness that power by adding services to products and creating communities of interest around social objects.

And of course there are also opportunities for still-powerful media channel brands in television and print to build direct relationships with advertisers and sponsors, using technology creatively to build applications that add co-branded services to content and facilitate direct transactions. This removes their reliance on ad networks and ups their margins.

He’s got it dead on, I think. That’s not to say I won’t be continuing to mull this presentation over for some time to come to challenge and build on the ideas, but for now I simply applaud…

William ended by quoting Russell Davies:

Experience Design will become the master discipline for businesses that want to be good at selling stuff.

That actually sounds obvious to a lot of us in this space, but it is worth repeating, rolling around the brain, and repeating again. That is experience design, not media buying, that will be at the core of the selling part of the media/marketing complex in years to come. Those experiences will be conceived in, of and through networks.

Why is CSR silent in social media?

“I think Richard Dawkins was sent to test us. Like fossils. And facts.”

It’s not just religious fervour that facts can get in the way of – a good dose of facts and rational discussion is the best cure for disinformation and malicious rumours too. So why aren’t more CSR programmes using social media to fight negative perceptions of their organisations?

It strikes me that one of the richest sources of useful, interesting and inspiring information that organisations have is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work that they do. By that I mean in part, their charitable, social works, but also their ethics and principles and how these are put into practice

It’s not just about shouting about all the work you do for charity. CSR at its best (and I think of M&S Plan A first in this respect) is about explaining the principles and the ethics the organisation subscribes to.

In my student days i was lazily radical in my views about corporations. Twenty years later I will hold my hand up and admit my views on, say, McDonalds or Nike were informed by word of mouth, rarely backed up by evidence or data beyond that which was presented to me by campus activists. I think I got quite worked up about some of it, and I think a lot of it was nonsense.

There were and are two issues around responding constructively to anti-corporate criticism:

  1. Organisations aren’t individuals: The Corporation has a fascinating premise (essentially, if corporations were individuals they would be psychopaths) but it stops being useful when you try to understand how corporations or any large organisations behave. They aren’t individuals, they aren’t monoliths, they aren’t even machines in which their employees are all little cogs and moving parts. Large organisations are networks, complex adaptive ones at that – we deploy management and metaphors to control them, and direct them and shape them, but essentially they are human social networks.
  2. The issues are complex: My sense over the years is that corporate communications and issue management teams have been schooled in managing communications in mainstream media. That means control and simplification are the order of the day. Soundbites aren’t useful when you are trying to explain complex issues around, say, social responsibility, tax or regulation. Success is being in control of the news agenda, mindshare, even if most people don’t believe a word they are reading and just assume that because you are big company you are up to no good.

Actually, both these points are about complexity. The perfect place to share information, discuss it openly, link to evidence, discuss issues openly, share examples of doing good, are the social web.

Yet, according to a new report from the pretty thorough and credible guys at Social Media Influence:

fewer than half of nearly 300 North American and European companies currently communicate their corporate and social responsibility accomplishments. Just one quarter have a dedicated social media sustainability channel or advocate.

This compares to about 85% of the Social Media Sustainability Index Report  sample who are happily trying to promote their products and services through social media.

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My presentation and a podcast from Community & Marketing 2.0

The recent Community & Marketing 2.0 event in Hamburg presented an opportunity to remix my book and my iCrossing work once again.

I’d not visited Hamburg before and this trip was all too brief, but I’m definitely heading back soon, hopefully for a break rather than work.

Before setting off I had a Skype conversation with Sebastian Kiel of the Social Media PReview podcast about marketing, the social web and the way businesses are changing, which I thought went quite well. The beginning is in German, but then it switches to English. If you’re interested, have a listen here (MP3 file)….