Friday, December 21, 2012

father christmas, give us your money

In keeping with tradition the last message posted here this side of Christmas is a seasonal tune.

This year we're going out with a lesser known nugget from the Kinks ouvre which appeared in 1977.

For Ray Davies and co it was something of a punky power pop slight-return to the Kinks garage-ey roots and very much in tune with the sound of '77.

So, once again thanks to everyone who's read, shared, commented, tweeted, liked and +1'd throughout the year.

In case you're wondering, during the break I shall be devouring Guy Kawasaki's new book APE which he kindly forwarded me the other week.

In the book Guy and co-author Shawn Welch outline their approach to 'artisanal publishing.'

'Artisanal publishing features writers who love their craft, and who control every aspect of the process from beginning to end. In this new approach, writers are no longer at the mercy of large, traditional publishers, and readers will have more books to read.'

This dropped at just the right time as part of the plan for 2013 is to finally publish the book that I've been promising.

The working title is 'He Split from the whole f*ckin' Program', and we're at the hacking-down-to-amanageable-first-draft stage.

Thanks again, see you after the break.

Assuming that the end of the world doesn't happen at some point today, obviously.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

don't stop - give it all you got!

This week sees the 10th anniversary of the death of Joe Strummer.

It's on Saturday 22nd, but as we'll be closing down for the holiday here on 21st we've decided to post our tribute today.

I'm oft to remark that in the midst of not paying attention at school I learned much of what I know about politics, geography and sociology/culture from the Clash.

From the Sandinistas to Brigade Rosse, the Vietnam war to Martin Scorcese.

Not to mention significantly broadening my young teenage musical landscape to incorporate everything from Joe Ely to Grandmaster Flash and Dr Alimantado.

On top of that, Joe was a great rent-a-quote.

This one is a favourite.

“And so now I'd like to say - people can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world.

People are running about following their little tracks - I am one of them. But we've all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail.

People can do anything - this is something that I'm beginning to learn.

People are out there doing bad things to each other. That's because they've been dehumanised. It's time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time.

Greed, it ain't going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square.

Without people you're nothing. That's my spiel.”

the icarus deception

A favourite quote of the year round these parts, and an idea we have adopted, came from John Dodds recently.

Doddsy correctly pointed out that platforms such as Kickstarter have another principle advantage alongside the clear and present benefit of getting one's creative project crowd-funded.

And it's no co-incidence that this benefit has been word-of-the-year at Boat HQ.


'Momentum that's derived from proof of concept; momentum that's derived from building a tribe of promoter-users who are incentivised via the range of prizes on offer; and momentum that's derived from being able to leverage critical mass with future investors, distributors and customers.

Most people see it solely as a fund-raising exercise and that's great, but they shouldn't overlook the baked-in marketing. That's priceless.'

One Kickstarter project that we participated in was Seth Godin's launch of his new book 'The Icarus Deception'.

A large box arrived at Boat HQ the other day containing 8 copies of the book, amongst other project related items (see pic).

Of the 8 copies of the book itself, I'm keeping two (one of which I will be reading over the Christmas break), I'm going to distribute 4 copies round the Sputnik office and I'm offering two copies up to the first two Australian readers of this blog who express their interest by leaving an affirmative in the form of a comment on this post.

Sorry to readers from overseas but petty cash is a bit short at the moment (always) so postage costs need to be kept to a minimum.

Who wants one?

big data bollocks

A couple of things I've learned from speaking at ad industry events over the past few years are these.

The first thing is to try and make your 15-20 mins as entertaining as you can. A story to back up your points is more important than graphs and charts, and the stories will be the thing that audience members will take away, more often than not.

The second thing is to be mindful that most events will have a hashtag connected via which delegates will tweet the bits and pieces that resonate.

A controversial or otherwise interesting 'blanket' statement about this or that will often get tweeted so it's always a good idea to structure a few of your points to be tweetable.

Also I've found that it is unlikely you will have the whole crowd nodding in agreement with you and quite often there will be significant disagreement. Don't worry about that, trying to appeal to every point of view inevitably ends up in appealing to no-one.

To that last point, I've had a few bits of feedback from delegates at last weeks AIMIA Future of Digital bash.

In my final section I proposed that 2013 may be the year in which we see the bubble burst in the whole big data situation.

There was equal parts agreement and dismay among those present.

The thought was thus; the value of big data is vastly overrated.

This is not to say that there is no value but rather that the value is derived from the processing and analysis of said data and it's conversion into important information.

For those familiar with the DIKW model, that information requires further distillation in order to come out the other end as Wisdom.

In adland parlance we would call wisdom 'insight'.

The data in itself may indeed be the new 'oil' however it is crude oil at best.

The other thing is that more data does not necessarily mean better.

In fact the more data one has will often make it harder to find the patterns that become the required information to distill into insight.

Better means better.

Having dealt with many businesses over the years who cannot even make sense of their own opted-in customer database, more data is not going to help them in any shape or form.

The other point is that any data set needs human beings to interpret it.

And knowing how as humans we are subject to no small amount of foibles and biases is testament to the difficulty of this task.

To illustrate I quoted this oft repeated psychology experiment (to add, we have conducted one of these ourselves and achieved remarkably similar results to those experiments of a similar nature from academia).

We asked two groups of financial services employees to assess their likelyhood to approve a credit card application from a recent graduate.

The applicant had creditworthy history, and was gainfully employed with an above average salary etc.

However, with the first group we gave them one extra data point to consider.

The applicant had an outstanding student loan of circa $5000.

With the second group we gave two data points.

The applicant had an outstanding student loan of between $5000 and $12500.

This second group were given an extra option in there assessment process. Either approve or decline the application. Or await further information about the extent of the outstanding debt.

Not surprisingly the majority of group two asked for further information.

We then revealed that the debt was actually very close to the $5000 number.

In group one around 70% declined the application for credit.

In group two only around 30% declined.

This is despite both groups having nearly identical data in the end.

By firstly anchoring group two on the $12500 number, the $5000 debt didn't feel so bad.

The point being that humans have clear difficulty with making consistent assessments when faced with only two pieces of data.

Good data has long been the lifeblood of marketing (ask any direct marketer) but at this point in time perhaps we don't necessarily need more data but better data, and there's a criminal shortage in the advertising industry today of the actual human skills needed to interpret, distill and convert into insight.

Friday, December 14, 2012

AIMIA future of digital event

Here's the deck from yesterdays AIMIA 'Future of Digital' morning in Sydney.

A thoroughly enjoyable half day with a great bunch of diverse opinions and presentations.

Luke Steele from Samsung gave us a glimpse of Samsung's connected world.

Phones, tablets, TV, fridges and air-con all talking to each other. Fascinating stuff.

Ciaran Norris from Mindshare lifted the hood on the hidden depths of Google search and some points of view on do-not-track.

Kelly Slessor from BanterMob gave us some mobile trends to watch and some points of view on mobile ad formats, embracing the flow of content rather than interrupting it.

There were some splendid examples of kinnect style interactive installation type stuff from Grant Whitehouse of GPJ.

And line of the day came from White Agency's Brian Dargan; 'A picture tells a thousand words - but a picture of your salad tell us f*ck-all'.

Thanks to MC John Butterworth and the AIMIA for a great morning. Let's do it again soon.

the facebook texas sharpshooter fallacy

Our current favourite cognitive bias is the 'Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy'.

Here's the often cited example of the fallacy in action.

If you were to shuffle a deck of cards and draw out 10 cards, the probability of that exact sequence you drew coming up are a squillion to one, no matter what the cards were.

If you drew out an fully ordered suit, it would be pretty remarkable - and 'clearly' contain some mystical properties - but statistically, of course, the chances of that sequence coming out are just the same as any other set of 10 cards.

So the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy describes the cowboy who fires his gun into the barn door and then paints a target around the holes, thus proving his accuracy.

It struck me that the announcement last week by Carolyn Everson – the VP of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook - that Samsung made a 1200% ROI on a $10 million Facebook ad campaign which directly resulted $129 million worth of Galaxy S III smartphone sales was a tad on the Sharpshooter Fallacy side.

There was plenty of other marketing going on outside of Facebook, not least the sterling work of 72 and Sunny which will be appearing in many 'best-of' 2012 lists, not to mention some pretty serious demand from existing users upgrading whether Samsung had spent a dollar in Facebook or not.

I've no doubt there was some effect but the 1200% ROI statement is clearly a message to calm anxious Facebook investors - by painting the target around the bulletholes - and 'demonstrating' the supposed validity of Facebook as a game-changing advertising platform, along with it's likelihood to deliver a future big bucks return or other.

But the enthusiasm in which this statement 'proving' the effectiveness of Facebook has been received in the social media 'expert' fraternity and the social media tabloid-esque news sites is comical.

So before any of your hapless marketers, bamboozled by their social media expert advisors start spunking next years marketing budget in one Facebook basket, please remind them about Sturgeon's Revelation, as applied to the social media commentary echo chamber.

90% is total bollocks.


Here's a trap that we often find ourselves falling into.
Even when you know this it's hard to stop yourself repeating it.

Take this example.

Your agency has just produced a new piece of work and it's worthy of making a noise about.

So the project leader will send a company wide email asking for support via tweets and Facebook status updates from the group to help spread the word.

All good so far, except usually no-one responds and only very few comply with the request.

It's an example of what is known 'diffusion of responsibility' and is closely related to what psychologists call the 'bystander effect'.

There's many reported examples of incidents where individuals who get into some trouble in public places - being mugged is common example - and despite there being large numbers of witnesses who could have made some sort of intervention, no-one does.

This is because two common things happen.

Everyone looks around at everyone else to see what to do, no-one is doing anything so that feels like the norm, so that's what they do.

Or, everyone assumes that someone else will be calling the police or an ambulance so no-one does anything.

In fact, if one is going to be robbed or have a heart attack in the street, the less people there are around to witness it then the greater the likelihood there is of someone intervening.

So in our pimp-my-agency example the diffusion happens because everyone who receives the mail sees that it is a mass email and therefore assumes that it's someone else's responsibility to do something.

There's no malice involved, no lack of commitment to the team or anything, it just doesn't feel urgent because it's something that someone else will do.

But the sender then gets miffed and wonders why no-one in the group wants to participate.

The project leader then pivots and does what she should have done in the first place and then goes round finding individuals in the group who are the most prolific tweeters etc and asks them individually and personally to post something, which they then happily do.

Similarly with email or other direct message marketing, don't ever be fooled into imagining there's any personalisation in mass communication where the name and salutation has been interchanged to match the names on a list.

While the tools exist to easily do this with a database of thousands lets not kid ourselves that this equates to personalisation of any sort.

If we really want a response there's no substitute for - firstly, having permission - and a truly personal message crafted specifically for the person whom we are talking to.

And flipping the diffusion of responsibility effect work in your favour by explaining in the message how many others like them are willing to help/give/buy or otherwise acquiesce to your request.

Works every time, simple in theory, but hard in practice.

The other good news is that once someone has done you a favour, then they like you more and will be more inclined to help again in the future.

Because we almost always like to act in ways that are consistent with what we've said and done previously.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

no pina colada

For the rarest of commodities 'creativity' is still ranking as the number one attribute that appears on the profiles of individuals on Linked-in.

Ragan report today that 'For the second consecutive year, “creative” earned the dubious title of the most overused buzzword in US LinkedIn profiles. In fact, the top three buzzwords remained unchanged from last year: “creative,” “organizational,” and “effective.”

Creative aside, it's interesting to note that the other qualities in the top ten that users describe themsleves with - and presumably the traits that they imagine will make them most attractive to prospective employers or business leads - are nearly all what one would describe as system 2 functions.

Analytical, problem solving etc.

No mention in that top 10 of anything more system 1-ish like funny, friendly, cheerful, or things we would associate with general like-ability.

Not likely any time soon, methinks.

But in effect, linked-in is kind of like a corporate dating site, and though the conventions forbid it, perhaps it's an idea to perhaps pepper the rational with some more subjective information.

How about pina colada's, getting caught in the rain, not being into yoga, or having half a brain?

make it easy to give #nfp

A mail from charity:water popped into the inbox this morning.

They are pretty much the poster child of nfp marketing so we do tend to pay attention to what they are up to.

This particular mail announced launched some charity:water gifts for Christmas. The gifting thing is a staple of many nfp marketers but this example has a couple of things that caught our eye.

Firstly, the gifts themselves are actually attractive things that one might consider buying.

Choice is kept to a manageable minimum. There's only 3 things to buy. Easy.

Check them; a JamBox ghetto blaster type of thing, a nice scented candle set and a stylish water decanter.

But also charity:water inform us that 'Profits [from the sale of the gifts] support our staff, help us grow and allow us to continue working to solve the water crisis'.

And we can see exactly how much $ of the ticket price the charity will receive.
With a nudge, natch, towards the middle choice, the candle, which sells for $28 with $18 going to charity:water.

Supporters know that 100% of all 'regular' donations go directly to their projects.
This is part of the charity's core proposition.

Whereas this gifting activity initiative is directly and transparently aimed a raising money for operational costs.

This supports their overall strategy of total transparency.

In effect they are segmenting the action of giving on behalf of the donor.

By chunking the 'kind' of donation even regular donors may give twice.

This is very smart.

Monday, December 03, 2012

move over gangnam style

The next dance craze to sweep the globe is straight outta Elgin.

315 views, and rising...

via Dangerous Minds

more on momentum #strategyfail

As someone with a foot in both the creative and planner camps I'm able to see both sides of many of the typical arguments between the two.

Often the strategists will be irked when a creative idea takes something in a direction away from the original strategy.

This is not necessarily a wrong thing, and strategies need to be adaptable.

Add to that the point that many creatives secretly (and sometimes not-so secretly) don't actually see the need for, or value, the contribution of planners in the first place. That's another debate for another time.

However if creatives feel that the planner's role is superfluous, then they need to be able to cover that themselves and in this example, no-one did.

This spot from mental health not-for-profit organisation Beyond Blue is perhaps an interesting example of a great creative idea that is let down by poor strategy.

A couple of people pinged me this over the last few weeks (thanks Kev, who was the first) as, on the surface, it has all the elements of stuff we like at Boat HQ.

The 'left-handed' analogy used to illustrate the ridiculousness of discriminatory behaviour that is faced by young people of sexual orientations outside of what might be described as the 'mainstream', (for want of a better phrase, whether mainstream is an appropriate description of anything in 2012 is debatable) is a splendid creative idea.

However the pay-off at the end, when it is revealed that 'left-handed' is a metaphor, is ultimately a let down.

The spot ends on...Stop - Think - Respect.

It's a nice attempt at chunking, I'll give it that, but the problem lies in imagining that asking homophobic or otherwise prejudiced individuals to 'stop and think' is going to affect any sort of behaviour change.

Attitudes can only be changed by there first being a change (even an enforced change, if necessary) in the behaviour.

There's at least two strategies that could have employed here that might have done justice to the creative idea.

1. This could have been part of a campaign to galvanise support for legislation that makes the illustrated discriminatory behaviour punishable by law.

The out and out ban on smoking in public places for instance has become a social norm very quickly aided by legislation.
This would have been something that supporters could do together.

2. This could have been part of a campaign to demonstrate how the type of prejudice illustrated was something of a bygone age, the domain of un-cool people and how most young people now find it laughable that we used to discriminate in this manner.

Again, something that people with shared values could gather around.

In a nutshell - Beyond Blue would be more effective in influencing behaviour if instead of trying to change the minds of individuals who are opposed to the cause, they focus on creating a sense of momentum among those who are in favour.