Two years ago, I went on a 10-day silent retreat at a Buddhist monastery in the middle of the Thai jungle. One morning at 5am, in the first of the day's meditation sessions, with bites on my arms from the spiders I wasn't allowed to kill and cramps in my stomach from the food I wasn't allowed to eat, I finally achieved my revelation on the impermanence of all things. Praise the universe, I thought. Glory to the fickle world. In only 48 hours, this too will end, and I'll be able to go back to my blinkered, base, absolutely wonderful life of electricity, box sets and beef.
Back in London, I endeavoured to bring the lesson of eternal impermanence into my day job, because social media is surely the viparinama-dukkha of the corporate world. The once-startling pace of a Twitter feed feels positively sluggish compared with newer tools like Snapchat, the photo-messaging service which deletes users' images after 10 seconds, or Vine, the six-second video app which acquired four million users within two-and-half months of launch. Every day we're bombarded with start-ups promising to be the next global sensation, plus a raft of updates and tweaks from established platforms. For users, it can be a little bewildering. For businesses, it's hell.
Les Binet and Sarah Carter get a little bit angry about some of the nonsense they hear around them… like the mantra that 'mine is different'.
A few years ago, we were working on a leading financial services brand. Our main client contact there was a smart data analyst who prided himself on his intimate knowledge of the brand and its millions of users. The brand had started to show signs of stalling and our analyst client was charged with finding out why, with our help. We started looking at a number of key measures and asked him what was happening to the brand's market share over time. 'Oh we don't track that. This is finance – it isn't baked beans you know' was the reply. But when we did a simple exercise to construct brand share and compare it with share of voice over time, we could immediately start to see what was causing the brand's problems. And in fact, the pattern our simple analysis revealed was entirely to be expected from what research has consistently proven is common to all markets.
A recent article in Research Live highlighted the re-branding of WPP's Insights Division from "Consumer
Insights Division" to "Data Investment Management". CEO Sir Martin
Sorrell explained the move as a way to bring the Insights and Media
divisions closer toghether, thereby making it easier for Clients to
manage and synthesize various data streams.
Makes sense - but why re-brand, removing the word "Insights" completely, with the new entity sounding more like a financial services offering?
There was a time long ago when the job of a marketer was simpler. Skills were learned and honed on the path to marketing mastery. Your media choices could be counted on one hand, customer feedback was in a timely and controlled fashion and your working day ended generally at the end of the day.
As we now know all too well our customers now live and interact in this constant, "always on" world. It is normal for them to engage with our brands and with each other on their own terms, in their own time – and as marketers and brands, we must ensure that we listen, interact and engage with them in real-time too.
Social Media has been the fuel to turbo charge this behaviour change but brands now understand that a planned content strategy needs to sit behind it to ensure that that your content conversations stand out from the pack.
We recently published over 80 DMA International ECHO™ case studies on warc.com. These awards are given to campaigns that have the power to change business – winners show the perfect combination of visionary strategy, compelling creative and breakthrough results. Here’s my selection of ECHO cases that I think are worth shouting about. (Note: Warc subscribers can browse all 81 case studies on our DMA International ECHO™ Awards page.)
It seems that implicit is the new black – everybody’s talking about it, at least in the small but feverish world of advertising research. But is it a new idea and how useful is it anyway?
The idea of the implicit mind has been around for quite a while - probably since the 1970s, but received a huge boost in the 1990s with the advent of cognitive neuroscience - particularly through the work of neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio and Joseph Le Doux, with its emphasis on unconscious, emotional response. And more recently, of course, there’s been behavioural economics - particularly the work of Daniel Kahneman, who talks about fast effortless and unreflective thinking (System 1) vs. the effortful, reflective and conscious kind (System 2). Kahneman’s key point is that whereas System 1 is automatic, System 2 is not.
A presentation that really captured my imagination during Advertising Week was given by Craig Atkinson and Mark Holden from PHD, who together introduced Source: its agency-wide, web-based workspace for media, communications and channel plan development.
Described as PHD's new "operating system", Source is a central repository of tools, templates, research reports, audience data and online research panel APIs that PHD's planners (and buyers) use to build their plans. But unlike other planning systems, which planners tend to interact with privately and as individuals – and export their work only when it's ready for team and client consumption – PHDers interact with Source conspicuously.
Les Binet and Sarah Carter get a little bit angry about some of the nonsense they hear around them… like nostalgia for a past that never was.
Marketing and advertising people can talk a great deal of nonsense at the best of times. But if you want to hear them at their worst, then ask them to talk about social trends. The average social trends presentation is, we've found, a heady mix of the obvious, the irrelevant and the blatantly false.
Recently we found ourselves listening to a conference speech about our 'changing lifestyles'. Life today is faster than ever, the speaker pronounced. We work longer hours. We have less and less free time. Families are fragmenting and food is eaten on the run…
In general, I despise the Chicken-licken approach to progress. The insistence that the latest piece of popular technology means curtains for morality, journalism, God, society, TV, music, or whichever pursuit you have a vested interest in preserving in its current form, is an age-old instinct of human nature which never fails to be both boring and inaccurate. A few thousand years ago, Socrates was fretting that the newfangled vogue for writing would destroy our memories, and just look at Derren Brown. Of course, technology alters our behaviour, but human beings are resilient creatures, and we have repeatedly proven that we are capable of combining old and new practices in exciting and profitable ways.
That said, I have to admit that there is plenty of evidence suggesting that copy has taken a dive since blogs, forums and social networks redefined the way brands express themselves online. The imperative to be authentic, accessible and human – and to do it in real time – all too often translates into a woeful mash-up of teen speak, sloppy grammar and Americanised marketing jargon, all heavily laced with a chronic over-use of exclamation marks.