Monday, March 30, 2009

Being brave in mobile

I took the time to read Mobile Marketer's "Classic Guide to Mobile Advertising" tonight, all 52 pages of it. It consists of around 30 random articles on the topic with overlaps, contradictions and a variety of quality. Interestingly they were mostly from companies with names like "Admedion," all very techy sounding and unapproachable. Which kind of sums up the current state of play: the technology is slowly getting there and the consumer experience is mainly poor.

My main take outs:-

Lots of articles about text links and banners, but having experienced this myself I can't see the future being in this area. Much more interesting were articles about mobile search, widgets, games and content. Surely the future of brand's presence in your mobile has to be consumer driven? Interruption models might be getting reasonable click through rates now, when the banner takes up 25% of the screen, but that can't last and they will go the same way as banner ads online. So: content, utilities and entertainment are the way to go in my view.

Next up, an overwhelming lack of case studies - just fluffy commentary. Notable exceptions were J&J Baby centre's mobile presence with Hispanic Mums which was based on getting them to sms in their due date and providing them with trimester-relevant content and ads. The expansion of Playboy onto the mobile internet also gives a nod to the old adage that porn and gambling grew the internet - so why not the mobile internet? The Golden Compass was used as a research example - tracking the awareness and interest in the film amongst mobile users who were exposed to ads vs those that weren't.

Thirdly, there is a lot of talk about the technology disparities and platform issues - to run a broad reaching campaign you need to have a format that can be viewed on 5000 different devices which don't like html, can't use cookies, and have trouble with flash. Hence why we're still seeing text ads. Parallel to this, in order for mobile advertising to take off we need to get all the steps right from the carriers to the handset manufacturers, the software platforms (maybe Google's android and the iphone's open software will make this much easier), and through to the publishers of content and the advertisers. But as one author pointed out, the personal nature of your mobile phone means that ultimately consumers will vote on what works and what doesn't. And I bet it's not text ads that win the day.

One point that I did like in Oz Eleonora's article was that in order for mobile advertising to succeed, it has to bring a new value equation to advertising and that, he suggests would be personalization based on instant behavioural data, i.e. what you're doing now: where you are, who you're communicating with (let's not forget that's what phones are for) and what you're up to.

I am going to get myself an iphone so I can get more familiar with its web browsing capabilities. I hope it's better than my old Samsung - trying to watch football highlights was laughable. From what I've seen it takes mobile web browsing forward so that offers us hope.

My penultimate point is about integration. Right now, mobile advertising isn't a powerful medium in its own right, but it can be a great addition to other media to bring your audience into the conversation in conjunction with the internet.

At the moment, the reality of mobile advertising is a fair way behind what consumers expect - their expectations are built on the PC-Internet and hence we have to find ways to offer useful, personal brand experiences which are unique to the mobile or tap into how people use mobiles.

Getting involved in the mobile space requires a lot of bravery for most Australian clients right now, but with some careful thought and a reason to be there based on consumer insight and a good understanding of how they use their mobile, it should be worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Looking in more places

One of the philosophies we have at OMD is about looking in more places for insights and one of my little secret sources of insights is very retro - the good old Reader's Digest, apparently the world's best selling magazine and home to a surprising amount of facts (which are a lot better than their lame jokes).

From this month's edition is the top 10 worst technology predictions of all time, which are good to quote in presentations. 5 of my faves below:-

"Next Christmas, the ipod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput" - Sir Alan Sugar, 2005

"No need for a computer at home" - Ken Olsen, founder of DEC, 1977

"Nuclear powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within ten years" - Alex Lewyt, Lewyt Corp Vaccum company, 1955

Tv won't last because people will "soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night" - Darryl Zanuck, 1946

"The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys" - Sir William Preece, chied engineer of the British Post Office, 1878 (not sure what he was engineering if he didn't believe in technology!)

I love it when people go out on a limb like this, so here's my quote for posterity "Facebook will be dead and buried by 2011, and "social media" will have ceased to exist as a term as sharing functionality gets incorporated into all media" - Rob Pyne, 2009

Cheers to sharing

Having a winemaker for a boyfriend is pretty cool. I’ve learnt a bit about wine, sampled some special drops and travelled to places I wouldn’t have gone to before so Mr Winemaker can chat with other winemakers about their product.

Which has led me to write this…

All of the winemakers we’ve met – some with decades of experience, some with a few years - share their methods and welcome other winemakers (their competitors) into their farms, factories and cellars to discuss their product and how it was made. Winemakers from across the country come together for conferences to discuss single varieties and share with each ways to do it better and groups have formed within wine regions that collectively help to market their wines. There is a surprising lack of secrets in this industry and a level of collaboration that I don’t think we’ll ever see in the world of marketing, advertising and media.

Imagine a strategist from another media agency asking if they can come over and have a look at some of our most recent work, discuss our process, where we get our insights and how we presented the end product!

Imagine if we shared our processes and approaches with PR or media partners? Maybe if they adopted similar ways to focus their activities we’d see more synergies. And why not give them access to our process? We know most media agencies have a process, our only difference is how we use it and to what extent.

Imagine presenting media recommendations to the guys writing the ads before we went to clients…what could happen if we went down this road? Perhaps we’d see stronger, more exciting ideas and more accountable approaches. It might even make for more enjoyable team work…sounds okay doesn’t it?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fresh updates into your inbox

We have now added the option to subscribe to our blog postings, but the more interesting thing was how we worked out how to do it.

While the RSS feed is great, not everyone knows how easy it is to use that tool, so we thought the best way to keep people updated would be via newsletter.

After numerous unresponsive messages to the blogger helpdesk, we decided to ask the collective blogging community. The answers came thick and fast. Not only on how to add the newsletter feature, but other suggestions including switching our blog platform and re-designing the layout.

Big 'Thank You' to those that offered generous suggestions. In appreciation we have added links to their blogs.

Who says you can't something for nothing these days.....Please add your email address over there on the right for fresh updates delivered direct to your inbox.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Set the VRC - The Gruen Transfer returns Wednesday, 9pm, ABC1

The Gruen Transfer - the show that has almost made advertising an acceptable profession to the public - makes a welcome return on Wednesday, with an in-depth discussion of the Tourism Australia strategy. Another winner from the show is Foxtel (OMD, Sydney), with a price-based ad for the subscription TV company generating approval from the panel for its strategy and execution.

Also from Aunty is The Making of Modern Australia where people from all around Australia are being invited to tell their personal stories online in a vibrant history project that will also become a documentary series on ABC TV.As both a broadband project and TV series, The Making of Modern Australia will be an unofficial people’s history, with individuals and families sharing their stories of life in Australia since 1945.By logging onto, people can upload their stories through photos, home movies, live webcams, sound recordings and text.To help people tell their stories, The Making of Modern Australia site is user-friendly with plenty of tips on storytelling and uploading material, as well as inspiring examples.
We will keep an eye on this project as it could be a great way to uncover insights into Australians.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Future’s Looking Inventful

Prospection: The act of looking forward in time is quintessentially human nature. We are by definition, the only living animal that looks into the future, thus making evolution dominant in our existence.

Our quest for advancement and innovation is an integral part of human behaviour, and thus pushes us to think more creatively and place emphasis on idea generation.

Alan Key was quoted to say “the best way to predict the future is too invent it” and if Google has any prediction status it seems the ad industry is evolving online.

As I’m sure many of you are aware Google has extended the Adwords platform to TV [it also does print and radio].

TV ads allow you to plan and buy a TV schedule based on station and daypart. Alternatively it will create an optimised TV schedule for you based on your desired demographic.

You can buy TV like you buy Adwords, setting daily impression and budget targets, and monitor your delivery, getting results the next day.

If you don't have an ad, it connects you to the
Google Ad Creation Marketplace, which connects advertisers directly to production companies.

Check out:

The generation gap is extending daily. Kid’s experiences with media are far more removed from our days of cartoons and cubby houses. Rupert Murdoch refers to us as Digital Migrants, our younger counterparts however, are Digital Natives. They have never known a life without broadband internet access, interactive online entertainment activities and social networking opportunities. For the first time ever a generation is in control of how it experiences ideas and ultimately is creating their own media landscape.

As the media industry continues to evolve and grow new channels of delivery and execution, we must ensure we are on the forefront of ideas. As Digital Migrants we must not make the mistake of our predecessors and try to impose our culture, experiences and knowledge, we must keep up with the pace, monitor, learn and embrace this new race. The future is open to ideas, so grab your visa and let’s get inventing!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A history lesson?

I decided to check out what I could learn from the history of advertising in order to apply it to a thorny issue: how to incorporate marketing within social media. This is an important issue as social media will not survive forever in the current format unless they begin to realise some of their potential for earning a real share of marketing spend. I'm not sure what other people think, but I personally think there is every chance that Facebook will be extinct in 5 years, just as MySpace and SecondLife have never lived up to their promise, or managed to maintain their growth rate.

Anyway, I went onto Wikipedia and found an interesting article about the history of advertising here:

This is what I think might be relevant:

TV advertising started out as single sponsors for each show, each of whom could control a lot of the content, right down to their ad agency writing the entire show. Then one channel, who was not securing enough sponsors, decided to flog off small bits of airtime to different companies. Could it be that we are returning the other way, with digital media leading the push into single sponsors, branded content and away from having several different companies with their banner ads on the same page? Interesting symmetry there.

The birth of the "modern" 30 second TV commercial lies right there in the move from sponsoring and content creation into having to tell your story in 30 secs - which meant the importance of being creative, cutting through, and having a consistent USP. Again, as we reverse this and look at transmedia planning and content strategies, we can see the idea of having a single minded USP is no longer as relevant - brands have stories to tell. And brands don't always have to have exactly the same message in every medium.

Wikipedia's history of advertising also analyses the launch of MTV as a channel where people tuned in for the advertising itself - advertising of the music song. But I see that as a bit of a blurred line. Nevertheless, one has to acknowledge that there was a time before music videos, a time when the top 40 countdown had millions of teens glued to their radio. All takes me back to the singles I used to buy in the 80s - Adam and the Ants, the Eurythmics and Madonna all graced my record player back then. Could we say that websites for brands serve some of this purpose? Are they windows to the brand? For most brands I'd say not, they are mainly corporate. But for some brands their website does or can play this role of building interest, liking, and getting you to go out and buy it. The main difference of course is that the music is an end unto itself, rather than a brand having to make up something additional to be interesting. But maybe this is the real challenge for brands: to provide a total brand experience that is more than a physical product plus a marketing program - the brand experience would then be the sum of a number of parts, only one of which was the actual product experience. Cadbury Gorilla has a written case study which purports to this: the strategy was to create "A Glass and a Half Full productions" where Dairy Milk became not just a chcoloate bar, but also a producer of entertainment.

Lastly, we can see how google and ebay brought the "long tail" to life and have monetized it in a revolutionary way, so in one sense, the progress of advertising over the years has been one straight line from it being an activity undertaken by only the biggest companies, through a plethora of brands (and the advertising clutter issue) and now into the realm of every individual. If I want to sell my second hand fridge, I can very easily advertise it and get hundreds of people to view my ad. Whilst this has been available for years through Trading Post etc., ebay brought it up several notches.

Google is attempting to combine the long tail of content with the long tail of advertising by its Adsense program of putting ads into any piece of online content, but to me they still haven't got it right as far as user experience counts. It looks ugly and is rarely truly relevant. Ebay have the long tail of advertising right, although not as right as they used to think, but their efforts to expand up the tail to more corporate activity, e.g. auctioning advertising space, appear to have got little traction (certainly I am not aware of it in Australia).

So, perhaps the future of social media is to try and monetise the long tail rather than (or as well as) the large corporates? Perhaps big brands need to redefine themselves and evolve into more multi-dimensional experiences? And perhaps Adam and the Ants made the best song about highway robbery EVER.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Should I, can I can Cannes?

It's that time of year again where advertising professionals worldwide turn their minds towards the south of France and dreams of glory. For some of us (Simon D, Gary H, you know who you are) this means the Tour De France. But for many of us it means the blessed and cursed Advertising festival at Cannes.

In order to compete at Cannes, we at OMD are busy turning ourselves into screen play writers, film producers, artists, logistic experts, on top of being occasionally strategic.

My question to you is this: in a year where clients and the industry have turned undeniably towards low fees, high results and a buying focus (evidence a: Adnews Media Voice survey which showed Strategy had lost top spot as the "most important part of media"; evidence b: various pitches which are devoid of strategic input)...are awards important?

As deputy chairman of Australia's Media Federation Awards (MFAs) and as a strategic person I say YES....(probably). And I'll tell you why. Digital. The standard of digital media strategy is in need of improvement, and awards are more and more turning to digital-led strategies. Look at OMD's MFA winners in 2008: of the 3 major campaigns that won, Juicy Fruit was about 85% digital (by media spend), V-Raw was maybe 90% digital and Monopoly was maybe 40% digital.

Whilst this year people won't be as interested in best use of TV (which Cannes still does), but they will be interested to see: which agencies and marketers are harnessing digital to explode their big ideas? who can crack Social Media? who can crack Mobile marketing? Is there anyone getting results from Twitter? Whose iPhone application delivered results?

So, whilst I am questioning the incredibly painful process which is Cannes entry, and whilst I am flabbergasted at all the silly stunts that won at Cannes last year, I'll be setting my sights on the MFAs and proving that OMD get digital media strategy more than any other Aussie media agency.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Do Digital and Government go together?

Last night I read the entire report, "Digital Britain" which is the UK Govt's initial thoughts on how to accelerate the digital revolution and make sure the UK is at the forefront compared to other countries. Whilst I won't go into the specifics of the 84 pages, a few things were apparent which are worth sharing.

1. There is competition and enormous variability between nations. Whilst the internet transcends global boundaries and as users we think of it as boundless, in fact the infrastructure, content, education and business opportunities are heavily influenced by where you physically reside. The UK wrote this paper specifically to make sure they get ahead of / keep up with Asia, US and mainland Europe.

2. The UK - and other countries including Australia - are promising a "Universal Service Commitment" which means legally ensuring that 99% of the population have access to high speed next generation broadband by 2012. What started out as a consumer/corporate revolution has firmly entered Government thinking, and they will provide the backing and education to ensure that digital penetration continues to grow until every person is online, from 4 year olds to 94 year olds.

3. Whilst content is again global, the UK wants to make sure that quality UK content is a thriving part of the UK user's experience - essentially they don't want to lose what it is to be British culturally as we are overwhelmed by non-local content. They see the BBC as central to this but not on it's own.

4. As content grows exponentially, the ability to monetize it via advertising diminishes. And the ability to protect content (rights management) is also a thorny issue. At present it doesn't seem that anyone has a good solution to either problem and we expect to see a whole raft of different monetisation models appearing until a smaller number stand the test of time. The watchword for marketers within this is Trust - with so much content out there, I will turn to well known brands for information I can trust.

5. The increasing availability of public service transactions online will drive online penetration - think of old people accessing their healthcare professional online (through their TV internet connection as opposed to a PC based internet connection). And the Government will invest in education and hardware to extend access to all children no matter whether their parents can afford a laptop or not, and no matter where they live.

So, what's the applicability to Australia and to marketers? Assuming that Australia's National Broadband Network actually happens (remoured to be delayed)...and that Australia's Government embraces digital wholeheartedly...First off, all your consumers will be online, so start testing now, don't just restrict to youth brands. Second, consumers will be getting used to the provision of all many services online, and this will be driven by Government and Business so see what services you can plan to deliver online. Third, and at long last, banner ads will become almost worthless and we can move on to focus on effective content/entertainment/information driven online solutions where the brands we work with have the advantage of Trust.

Link to the paper is here: