Friday, August 31, 2012

friday for a change, a little more nothing

In any given market or category, at any given time, a customer - or customers - have at least three options.

They can buy product X - your product, product Y - a competitor's product.

The third option, and by far the most popular option, is the option to do nothing.

the loch ness monster bias

We're familiar with the idea that none of us 'thinks as much as we think we think'.

It would also appear that we don't even see as much as we think we see.

Our thanks to Faris, who posted this Transport for London info spot from 2008 that demonstrates the idea of 'change blindness'.

'Change blindness' one of those little cognitive traps that shows the inherent flaws in how we process visual information.

'Whodunnit' is clearly a close relative of this 1998 study by Daniel Simons and Daniel Levin called 'The Door Study' in which a participant fails to notice when the person he is talking to is replaced by someone else, clearly demonstrating the phenomenon.

There's a full academic paper available; 'Change Blindness Blindness: The Metacognitive Error of Overestimating Change-detection Ability' if you are inclined to read more.

I'm reminded of what we doctors call 'The Loch Ness Monster bias'. Roughly translated this means that rather than rather than using the maxim 'I'll believe it when I see it' we would be better advised to note that we will, 'see it when we believe it'.

Monday, August 27, 2012

lost in the supermarket

There's an old adage that goes along the lines of 'there are no low interest categories only low interest brands'.

I'm not sure I subscribe to this point of view.
Most everyday categories are pretty low interest and most brands in those categories are too.
Simple brand recognition and habit are probably the biggest influence.

A tale of terror I am oft to recount is about the time when we had just arrived in Australia and ventured to the supermarket to purchase some sundries.

Washing powder being one of said items.

The terror of being confronted with what seemed like a hundred options and not having the first clue who any of these brands were is one that I still makes me shudder.

All of a sudden I had to actually think about a decision that should have been more or less automatic.

And sadly no amount of critical thinking was going to help me.
I had to take a punt.

Yes, big purchase decisions are perhaps somewhat determined by how we feel about brands, but so too are everyday choices to a certain extent.

Without simple 'recognition', then making a selection is hard. I had never 'heard of' any of these brands.

In case you are wondering, I went with FAB using another shortcut. They had the largest shelf presence (a proxy for popularity) and were neither the cheapest or the most expensive.

On the subject of soap powder, it was nice to see that the oldies are still the goodies, as Jarrah have sort of revived the Daz Doorstep Challenge for their tea/coffeee alternatives, with Dame Edna doing the Danny Baker part.

bust out the shack and hit the track

Most of you will know I'm a big fan of the Boss.

To be fair, I came around relatively late, probably in the last 5-6 years. But I agree with Joe, Bruce sounds great on a dark and rainy morning in England, he's also always great on a spring morning in Victoria and on the road up to Melbourne.

From a validation point of view, I'm pleased that Joe was also a fan.

There's a quote often attributed to Bruce that has been useful sometimes when looking at marketing communications problems.

'You can go from doing something quite silly to something dead serious in the blink of an eye, and if you're making those connections with your audience then they're going to go right along with it.'

Pic HT to MusicRuinedMyLife

Friday, August 24, 2012

arnold layne

This is a curious spot for Toyota out of Japan.

Watch this then consider this notion of the experiencing self, meaning the here-and-now, moment-to-moment feeling self, and the remembering self , the part of us that reflects on what we have experienced and decides how we feel about what happened.

I'm also reminded of the note that I heard (it was Rory Sutherland, I think) on the efficacy of advertising. There is apparently no correlation between efficacy and the duration.

Whether it's a :15, :30 or :60 is not important as long as the duration can carry the narrative, offer an 'interest' spike and, most importantly - this refers to the remembering self bit just mentioned - an ending.

In old money this might be described as bait-and-switch but it's certainly a 'surprise' and will have other assorted emotions in the mix depending on your worldview.

it's a long way to the top

We visited Melbourne's ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Image) to check out an exhibit called 'Screen Worlds The Story of Film, Television & Digital Culture'.

Among the things to play with was an interactive touchscreen table thing. Scenes from Australian movies were mapped onto the ermmm.. map.

Mad Max, Hanging Rock, Walkabout etc.

One oddity however was this clip of the mighty AC/DC performing 'It's a Long Way To The Top..' on a truck going through the centre of Melbourne in 1976 with the Rats of Tobruk Pipe Band.

Apparently it's well known round these parts, but I'd never seen it.

Although the boys are globally known as Australia's finest rock'n'roll export I'm claiming them 100% for Scotland.

The Young brothers and Bon Scott were all born in Scotland.

And, fact fans, the singers name was in fact a pseudonym. To his parents he was plain Ronald Belford, his rock god alter ego Bon Scott is a shortened version of 'Bonnie Scotland'.

If that's not Scottish enough for you, then there's a favourite joke that the Aussies like to do which involves singing along with the lyrics of the chorus changed to 'it's a long way to the shop, when you want a sausage roll'.

A clear homage to Greggs the baker.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

learn to play with nothing

This will be my last comment on the forget-about-the-tools and focus on the behaviours rant for a while.

It coincides with the Modern Lovers being on heavy rotation in the Boatmobile commute, and the fact that I haven't done one of these pic-quote posts for a long time.

The interviewer asks Jonathan what he still needs to learn, as a musician.

After 'getting along with cats and dogs' and 'playing quieter so as not to hurt children's' ears' he adds...

'And we have to learn to play with nothing, with our guitars broken, and it's raining'.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

blood on the tracks

Certain unscrupulous corners of the advertising world, those on the dark side of the (other) digital divide, are not best pleased.

It appears that Microsoft are sticking to Plan A and shipping 'Do-Not-Track' as the default option in Internet Explorer 10.

Do Not Track is a web privacy scheme that tells online advertisers to NOT collect or use data specific to a user's web activity.

Advertisers can still show ads, obviously, but they would not be allowed to record that a user browsed certain car websites, for example, and then proceed show car ads where ever they go.

While these advertisers were reported to be willing to put up with 'Do-Not-Track', they were only accepting the basis that it was certain to be something that users had to actually enable and activate for themselves.

Thus users default bias would kick in and most would leave the box unchecked, and it would be happy days for the cookie brigade.

The default however is on the other foot as Microsoft further enhances it's nice-ness and new-cool credentials by leaving DNT as the default, a little nudge-eyness towards making the web a bit less creepy for there users.


Of course the small problem faced by DNT is that it's pretty much trust based and not enforcable.

Advertisers need to look for the DNT signal sent and decide to honor it.

Now if you are the kind of advertiser who thinks it's acceptable to creep around after individuals, record their movements and then try and intercept and 'target' them at every corner with 'relevant' ads, and then what's the likelyhood they will honor a DNT request.

After all skullduggery and coercion takes less effort than making products, services and advertising that are so great that people are attracted to look at them and do stuff with them because they deliver some actual value.

no nurse, I said remove his spectacles

I was called by a leading Australian publication the other day to comment on the main Australian political parties usage of social media, and speculate on the influence it may have on the outcome of the forthcoming federal elections.

I gave the topic some degree of consideration and sent them back a thoughtful piece about shared meaning, the ad-hoc nature of communities online and how in the connected world ideas are adopted by groups who find them salient.

I went on to lament the poor efforts of the big two parties to engage in any meaningful way and preferring to simply pushing their desired meaning onto the voters in social networks in the same way that they have done with mainstream media.

I also speculated that the banality of much of the content delivered by the parties was in fact a highly tactical move to bore the electorate to death in order to invoke the inherent status quo bias. In reality we know that this-or-that policy has less influence on voter behaviour than simply whether the candidate looks like they know what they are doing.

Dan Ariely even hypothesised recently that we prefer to elect corrupt or corruptable candidates because government itself is inherently corrupt so the candidate needs to be able to operate in that kind of space.

To the point of the story, they never published any of my comments.

Instead they elected to publish a stream of inane drivel about each party's number of Twitter followers, what an infographic is, and how Julia Gillard once had a hangout on G+ blah blah.

Now I couldn't care less if the use my material or not, but I noticed that I had become a victim of my own biases.

In this case a big bit of the authority bias, with a touch of the representativeness heuristic.

In decision-making, authority bias is the tendency to over value the opinion of someone who one views as an authority or expert.

In my case I overestimated the intellectual level of debate to the same level that I overestimated the 'authority' of the publication.

The reality being that the conversation was happening at such a low level that made Mashable look like New Scientist.

Here's another - and this is one of my favourites - everyday example of the authority bias in action.

A physician ordered eardrops to be administered to the right ear of a patient suffering pain and infection there. Instead of writing out completely the location 'Right ear' on the prescription, the doctor abbreviated it so that the instructions read 'place in R ear'.

Upon receiving the prescription, the duty nurse promptly put the required number of ear drops into the patient’s anus.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

putin lights up the fires

On the day they were found guilty of 'hooliganism driven by religious hatred' and sentenced to two years in jail In Russia, Pussy Riot also release a single 'Putin lights up the fires'. We're reposting the video from The Guardian website as a small gesture of support.

Boredom is always counterrevolutionary.

Friday, August 17, 2012

don't care

I'm reading Dan Ariely's book 'The Upside of Irrationality'.

In the early chapters he uses a story from the 1995 film First Knight starring Richard Gere to illustrate how motivation can affect performance.

The same analogy works for agencies and clients when we want to develop truly great advertising moments.

Gere's character Lancelot is an expert swordsman, who offers a sparring service to the locals where he works.

They pay a few coins to test their sword skills against the master.

Lancelot then opens the game up a bit by offering a small fortune to anyone who can beat him.

Along comes an enormous blonde geezer, who looks like he has the chops to win.

After a pretty hectic bit of metal bashing Lancelot disarms his opponent.

'How did you do this?' asks the befuddled and defeated chap.

Lancelot replies with three lessons.

And these are the lessons for us

1. Observe your opponent [customer] and learn how he moves and thinks.

2. Wait for your make or break moment [your moment of truth] and make your move.

The student nods in agreement. He's getting it so far.

Then Lancelot comes in with point three.

3. You must not care if you live or die.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

shake it up

Not sure this totally qualifies as a nudge, but it beats a billboard any day.

In order to receive the communication there is something one has to do, thereby becoming a bit more involved.

Considering that many NFPs have difficulty shaking themselves out of the we-just-do-direct-mail habit, props are due to Ogilvy Sydney and Parkinsons Disease not-for-profit, Shake It Up Australia.

you need hands

We're loving this British Heart Foundation spot for hands-only CPR (no kissing!) featuring Vinnie Jones.

Full of little story-based hooks (pairing the hard-men with the camp Bee Gees soundtrack is a masterstroke - calling attention with a 'surprise'), a splash of the old representativeness heuristic and a nice nudgey bit of chunking (call, push, stayin' alive) to make a potentially terrifying and confusing situation easier to 'know' what to do without having to think.

Top marks.

[Yes, it came out last year so I'm a bit late, put it down to southern hemisphere lag]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

handbags and gladrags #lossaversion

So it goes that the pain of paying an extra fee for checked bags when you arrive at the airport is exasperated by the fact that you have already had to fork out for your ticket and so the additional cost of your luggage fee adds up as two separate losses.

Although the cost would be roughly the same one feels less aggrieved when paying for both at the same time on booking the ticket.

It's one loss.

So, two losses separately are more painful than if they were joined together, and likewise two gains separately are more enjoyable than when they are experienced together.

One little nudge to offset the pain of a loss is to bundle in a small gain following the original loss.

This is also know as the 'silver lining' effect.

Car dealers that offer 'cashback' as part of the deal know this.

In fact if one wants to dive deep into behavioural economics then go spend a few days in a car dealership, those guys have been practicing many of the principles for years, they just didn't have a name for it.

However my intuition tells me that the people who put up this sign need to do a bit more work on their subtleties....

hedonic boosts part 2

Legend has it that the website banner ad was born on or around October 27, 1994 with, and among those first hosted ads were placements from Volvo, AT&T,and 1-800-Collect.

In those early days click rates could be anything up to 80%.

Fast forward to today when an industry average is something closer to 0.05% and a campaign result of anything above that number is call for a party.

I'm all for the maxim that in order to achieve success one needs to learn to love failure but there comes a point...

One description of what psychologists call system justification bias tells us that '[its] effects are exacerbated when people are under psychological threat or when they feel their outcomes are especially dependent on the system that is being justified'.

Such is life in agencies.

In the interim perhaps we should be thankful for those 0.12% hedonic boosts, and keep making those banner ads.

Monday, August 13, 2012

the adoption paradigm

The old paradigm was 'targeting' - the new paradigm is 'adoption'.

To those for whom the message relevant, it's all good.

They adopt, then then they tell everyone else.

It's a simple equation.

My friend Harshal Gajria pointed me to this ad for the Mumbai Mirror newspaper - 'I am Mumbai' - and we wondered if perhaps all this pro-social, cultural critique, emotional advertising is getting too much.

In the old paradigm one would possiblly answer 'yes'.

In the new paradigm we can summise that - in fact - it's the only way.

Friday, August 10, 2012

it's about the behaviours, not the tools

It's surprising that in 2012 there is still so much focus, effort and money spent on trying to work out how the deployment of social media technologies and tools will impact on the performance of marketing strategies.

Every week there's another Pinterest webinar or 'how-to' leverage Linked-in conference.

And countless articles speculating and instructing about this or that of Facebook and Twitter.

However the important thing is working out what's important.

Social media tools have been adopted principally because they allow us to do stuff we've always liked to do, easier and with more people.

We share things...
Talk about things...
Create our art...
See what others are saying, doing and yes, buying...
We can argue, agree, copy...
We can demonstrate how smart, connected or philanthropic we are...

What's actually important is getting a hang of people - and how they behave - to inform, develop and implement strategy.

Somehow this insightful cartoon that I found in an old Dr Feelgood tour program from something like 1978 seems to nail the problem.

Anyone can pick the guitar, plug it in to the amp and make a noise.

And many companies and brands are doing this.

Not many are making us move like Wilco and co.

It's about the people and behaviours, not the tools.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

hedonic adaptation

As if by magic, I had just began to understand this idea of hedonic adaptation.

We get used to things and novelty wears off.

We get used to ourselves too, so a process in which the repetition of small positive experiences - rituals, if you like - such as doing some exercise, just putting on a happy face or pulling on your Levis, can actually have a long lasting effect on our general well-being.

Behaviour shaping how we feel and think.

We want to feel good about ourselves and so we use stuff that makes us feel good about ourselves.

Of course we inherently know this, without necessarily knowing.

So marketing and advertising that provide customers with 'hedonic boosts', little reminders of the feelings that we had when we first used a product, for instance, can be super effective.

That's one of the simple insights here.

And a brand’s attribute associations are stronger when we view ourselves as having as having those personal attributes.

What I can't get my head round is that after many years of being the 'digital' guy, the communications that I'm getting most excited about these days are not digital ideas at all.

Monday, August 06, 2012

we all scream for ice cream

This spot from Little Babies Ice Cream out of the US is great advertising.

It's pure emotive thus highly memorable and, of course, talk-about-able and shareable.
Not a USP in sight, simply an unsettling, surreal mixture of fear, surprise and disgust.

Considering most other ice cream advertising goes after the happiness angle it's doubly surprising.

The makers clearly know this, hence the tag line 'ice cream is a feeling'.

Top marks.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

sunk cost fallacy

I have a hunch that the team on this account are double agents working covert for the other 3 Aussie banks on a mission to systematically destroy the CommBank brand.

I can't embed the ad 'Bomb Hoax', it's now been removed from YouTube, but it can still be viewed over on Campaign Brief.

Suffice to say it's the latest instalment of a campaign that just when you thought it had hit its dumbest point, it keeps on getting dumber.

From a psychology point of view one can only summise that this is a classic case of 'sunk cost fallacy' or 'escalation of commitment bias'.

This is the phenomenon whereby people or an organisation will justify increased investment in something, based on the cumulative prior investment and despite evidence clearly suggesting that the cost of continuing the decision now outweighs any anticipated benefit.