Here at Warc we have clients from the full spectrum of the global advertising community – agencies of all types and sizes, network and independent; research agencies; brand consultancies; market research firms; media owners and agencies; academics institutions and brand owner advertisers.
One of the most interesting parts of my job here at Warc is building relationships with our new subscribers, working with them to understand what their priorities are and showing how Warc can help.
Les Binet and Sarah Carter get a little bit angry about some of the nonsense they find around them… like the way that we ignore inconvenient data.
We have now written more than 30 of these Mythbuster columns. It's amusing to remember how, when embarking on the column, we were concerned that we wouldn't have a good enough supply of myths to bust. We needn't have worried. But we have often mused on quite why this should be so. Why, when so much time and money is spent on data collection and we have never had more data and innovative research available, do we find that people so often go with their invalid hunches and myths, rather than the contradictory data evidence?
As you may have read this morning, IAB Europe, the region's internet advertising trade body, released its 2012 digital adspend figures at its Interact event in Barcelona yesterday. And the headline data from the AdEx report tell a familiar success story. Despite the tough economy, the sector grew by 11.5% year on year, with digital taking a 25% share of Europe's all-media adspend. Over the next few years, it's a safe bet that online advertising will overtake TV, which took a 28% share in 2012, to become the region's single biggest adspend channel.
But dig a little deeper, and it's not all good news. While online is still vastly outperforming the traditional media, adspend for which contracted by -4% in Europe in 2012, the way digital budgets are being allocated should cause concern. One of the big themes of day one of Interact was advertisers' tendency to use digital for direct response rather than for branding. The 2012 data bear this out: search ads remain by far the biggest online category, up +15.5%, while display rose by +9.1%. And one euro in two spent on digital over the year was spent on search. In other words, while TV's dominance over digital is under threat in absolute adspend terms, its role as the biggest brand-building channel is considerably more secure.
Big Data Week - billed as a global platform of interconnected community events - is taking place in London this week. The event's goal is to explore the challenges and opportunities of managing and utilising Big Data. I attended a presentation in London yesterday morning, hosted by FreshNetworks, a social business consultancy, which posed the question: "Will customers kill off Big Data?"
Of course, Big Data is a much-used term with a variety of definitions. But according to Paul Oram, Chief Technical Officer at Fresh Networks, it's all about the 4 Vs: Volume, Velocity, Variety and Veracity.
Have you been watching the brilliant BBC Horizon programmes in the last few months? Two episodes in particular, 'The Creative Brain: How Insight Works' and 'The Age of Big Data' were fascinating, and surely compulsory viewing for any Marketer – check out BBC iPlayer or YouTube.
These episodes got me thinking about the absolute necessity to create the quality thinking time that many marketers that we work with complain about not having. There seems to be so much process, individual form filling and 'just doing' going on that there's less and less time to actually use your brain and think. Templates designed to capture great thinking and provide clarity of direction are getting delegated due to a lack of time or relevance and can turn into a shallow box filling exercise (or copying and pasting from last time) just to get the job off the 'To Do' list.
I'm currently taking an online educational course in Behavioural Economics (BE), lead by the eminent Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and teaching Professor of Duke University (http://danariely.com/)
It's a fabulously well done course - lasting 6 weeks, it consists of Video tutorials, Reading Assignments, and tests that lead to a possible certification. And it costs nothing.
Nature programmes have maintained consistent popularity on television for over 50 years now (a movement due in large part to the brilliance of David Attenborough!). They will often explore the 'ecosystem' of a particular place, describing the often complex and evolving network of interactions that take place between living and non-living things.
Recently, the term 'ecosystem' has cropped up regularly but in a completely different context i.e. that of marketing, so I thought I would offer my own spin on the analogy.
Looking first at the natural world, there are a number of things about ecosystems I've gleaned from 'nature/science for laypeople' programmes…
At our Measuring Advertising Performance (MAP) conference – which this year takes place in London on March 12th-13th – we'll be gathering together speakers from clients, agencies and market research firms to offer the latest thinking on today's big marketing issues. Academics including Patrick Barwise of the London Business School will also be represented: and you can view my MAP preview on Barwise's theory of innovation here.
One of the key presentations from the research world will be given by Colin Strong, managing director at GfK NOP. He'll be talking about Big Data – one of the biggest trends affecting marketers over recent years. And, as he told me when we met up on a foggy London afternoon earlier this week, he'll be advising marketers to use psychology, sociology and, in particular, behavioural analysis to make the most of the ever-increasing amount of trackable consumer data available to them.
The Internet Advertising Bureau UK hosted an event in central London earlier today that shared results from its first online performance marketing survey: a report that summarises growth, opportunities and trends in the online performance marketing sector.
The IAB study, carried out with professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, was the first such report designed to measure not just traditional online display advertising but also the full range of online spend including sales commissions, management fees and so forth. Its primary objective was to give a highly accurate picture of internet ad spend.
When Barack Obama was elected to the United States presidency in 2008 the marketing story was the power of social media, and how his campaign successfully leveraged tools such as Facebook to drive unprecedented voter interaction (view for free the Obama for President case study). Four years later, Obama is celebrating another victory and this time the talk is all about big data.
Big data has become an ubiquitous phrase in marketing circles as brands and agencies hasten to get to grips with the torrent of information unleashed by the digital age. Underlying the general excitement at the sheer quantity of consumer data available is the nagging but persistent question of what exactly to do with the data.