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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Mediatel Media Playground 2011

My previous blog post covered my notes on Broadcast in a Multi-Platform World, which I felt was the best session of the day. Below are my notes from the other 3 sessions (I didn’t take any notes during the bonus Olympics session)

The data debate

Chaired by Torin Douglas, Media Correspondent for the BBC

Andrew Bradford, VP, Client Consulting, Media at Nielsen
Sam Mikkelsen, Business Development Manager at Adalyser

David Brennan, Research & Strategy Director at Thinkbox
Kurt Edwards, Digital Commercial Director at Future
Nick Suckley, Managing Director at Agenda21
Bjarne Thelin, Chief Executive at BARB

Some of the issues touched upon in this debate were interesting but I felt they were dealt with too superficially (but as a researcher, I guess it is inevitably I’d say that).

David Brennan thinks we need to take more control over data and how we apply it. There is a dumb acceptance that anything created by a machine must be true and we’ve lost the ability to interrogate the data

Nick Suckley thinks the main issue is the huge productivity problem with manual manipulation of data from different sources (Google has been joined by Facebook, Twitter and the mobile platforms), but this also represents a huge opportunity. He thinks the fight is not about who owns the data, but who puts it together

Torin Douglas posited whether our history of currencies meant that we weren’t so concerned with data accuracy, since everyone had access to the same information. Bjarne Thelin unsurprisingly disagreed with this, pointing out the large investment in BARB shows the need for a credible source.

David Brennan said his 3 Es of data are exposure (buying), engagement (planning) and effectiveness (accountability)

Nick Suckley thinks people would be willing to give up information for clear benefits but most don’t realise what already is being collected on them

Kurt Edwards thinks social media is a game-changer from a planning point of view as it sends the power back to the client. There is real-time visibility, but the challenge is to not react to a few negative comments

David Brennan concurred and worried about the possibility of social media data conclusions not being supported by other channels. You need to go out of your way to augment social media data with other sources to get the fuller picture

Bjarne Thelin gave the example of BBC’s +7 viewing figures to show that not all companies are focusing purely on real-time. He also underlines the fact that inputs determine outputs and so you need to know what goes in

David Brennan concluded by saying that in the old days you knew what you were getting. Now it is overblown, with journalists confused as to what is newsworthy or significant

Social media and gaming

Chaired by Andrew Walmsley, ex i-Level

Adele Gritten, Head of Media Consulting at YouGov
Mark Lenel, Director and senior analyst at Gamesvison

Henry Arkell, Business Development Manager at Techlightenment
Pilar Barrio, Head of Social at MPG
Toby Beresford, Chair, DMA Social Media Council at DMA
Sam Stokes, Social Media Director at Punktilio

The two speakers gave a lot of statistics on gaming and social gaming, whereas the panel focused upon social media. This was a shame, as the panel could have used more variety. All panel members were extolling the benefits of social media, and so there was little to no debate.

There was discussion about the difficulty in determining the value of a fan, the privacy implications, Facebook’s domination across the web and the different ways in which social media can assist an organisation in marketing and other business functions.

Mobile advertising

Chaired by Simon Andrews, Founder of addictive!

Ross Williams, Associate Director at Ipsos MediaCT

Gary Cole, Commercial Director at O2
Tamsin Hussey, Group Account Director at Joule
Shaun Jordan, Sales Director at Blyk
Will King, Head of Product Development at Unanimis
Will Smyth, Head of Digital at OMD

Ross Williams gave an interesting case study on Ipsos’ mobi app, which tracked viewer opinion during the Oscars.

Simon Andrews’ approach to chairing the debate was in marked contrast to the previous sessions. He was less a bystander and more a provocateur – he clearly stated his opinions and asked the panel to follow-up. He was less tolerant of bland sales-speak than the previous chairs, but was also more biased in approaching the panel with the majority of panel time filled with Simon speaking to Will Smyth.

Will King things m-commerce will boost mobile like e-commerce did with digital. Near field communication will move mobile into the real world.

Gary Cole pointed out that mobile advertising is only a quarter of a percent of ad spend but that clients should think less about display advertising and of mobile as a distinct channel. Instead, mobile can amplify other platforms in a variety of ways.

Tamsin Hussey said that as there isn’t much money in mobile, there is no finance to develop a system for measuring clicks and effectiveness of all channels. Currently, it has to be done manually.

Will Smyth said the app store is the first meaningful internet experience on the mobile. The mobile is still young and there is a fundamental lack of expertise at the middle management level across the industry. Social is currently getting all the attention (“Chairman’s wife syndrome”) but mobile has plenty to offer.



Moving TV content online complements; it doesn’t cannibalise

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28481088@N00/

My opinion is not as dogmatic as the title of this post might suggest, but on balance – for most shows, most of the time, at this point in time – the benefits of moving content online (both the original broadcast and additional material) outweigh the drawbacks.

1. Is there a link between the two platforms?

Firstly, to be able to complement or cannibalise, traffic for the two platforms needs to be dependent on one another.

This is plainly the case in the UK, where growth in online performance mirrors TV ratings.

Over the past year, according to Comscore, Channel4.com saw traffic spikes in January and June – when Celebrity Big Brother and Big Brother respectively were broadcast. ITV.com saw spikes in November and May. X-Factor and I’m a Celebrity… are shown in November, and the May schedules contain Britain’s Got Talent.

In addition, when asked, most people on TV websites are there for a specific reason. Some people are just browsing, or have been redirected from somewhere else, but mostly people are looking for information or content around a particular show, series or genre.

2. Won’t moving TV shows online reduce the audience that watch it on TV?

Maybe. Probably. But not certainly.

There are three main reasons for my belief that benefits of fragmentation outweigh drawbacks.

i. The Internet has a different core audience and user experience to TV. The overlap between TV and online is smaller than that between terrestrial and multichannel TV (particularly as digital switchover gets closer).

If one is worried about fragmentation, the proliferation of repeats on the same channel, the +1 channel and the digital family must surely be of greater concern.

ii. Watching TV online is about catching up; not replacement. By far the most popular reasons for watching TV shows online are that the original broadcast was missed, either because the viewer was away from the TV or because they were watching something else. Few choose online at the expense of TV.

The research that Thinkbox and the IAB carried out earlier in the year back this argument up, although their findings have to be caveated with the audience (16-54 heavy/medium Internet users with multichannel TV).

Similarly, research from the IMMI (link is a pdf that directs straight to the report) in the US indicates that few people start watching a TV series via catch-up. They initially watch via TV but move online at a later date – possibly because they missed the broadcast or because they happened to be online when they wanted to watch it.

immi-research(Click through to see a larger version of the chart)

iii. At this stage, the majority prefer watching content on TV.

The Thinkbox/IAB work found that 3 in 5 say that screen size limits their enjoyment of watching TV online. Until people figure out how to plug their Internet connection into their television, the experience isn’t going to be the same. And as TV moves ahead with high definition broadcasting, it will be interesting to see whether the online network providers can cope with matching that data quality.

Furthermore, simulcast still isn’t universal and for some shows the live experience is integral to the enjoyment of the programme.

In summary, people will continue to watch TV shows via TV if they can. But if they are unable to, moving the content online offers them a convenient opportunity to catch up at their leisure.

3. Do viewers care about additional content online?

My answer to this is an emphatic yes. One of the great things about the Internet is the low cost of experimentation, so sceptics can run mini-trials without any great outlay.

Initial wisdom suggested that this would only work for some shows. The Heroes 360 experience has been phenomenally successful, but the Heroes audience is primarily young and tech savvy. Similarly, the BBC has provided additional online content for shows such as Spooks and Doctor Who, where people can play games and find out additional plot points.

When done well, this content may be very powerful. In The Truth About Marika, the conspiracy theory was so convincing that a quarter of the show’s audience actually believed it was real.

But engaging with TV content online is becoming a mass activity. The growth of laptops has enabled people to consume TV and Online content simultaneously, as this chart from Thinkbox/IAB suggest (again clickthrough for a larger version).

If people enjoy a show, they will go online immediately to find out more about the storyline. Not just for Heroes, but for other shows. In the weekend after a major character’s death in Coronation Street, alternative versions of the death were viewed 650,000 times.

This approach has twin benefits. It rewards the biggest fans with additional information on their favourite characters and storylines. But it also creates new advocates. Casual fans consuming this content online, either by accident or design, may be won over, increasing the chances of them not only watching the TV broadcast themselves but also promoting it to their friends.

And word of mouth isn’t a bad thing to be able to harness…


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Links – 3rd August 2008

Since getting back from holiday, I’ve bookmarked a lot of stuff to read. Over the weekend, I finally caught up. At least until the next interruption to my finely honed grazing schedule.

Further link posts to appear over the coming days but today

Marketing and Media

Old media deathrace 5000 (Mashable) – very interesting analysis on the future of old media. My opinion is that TV will remain the central point of the media experience, but that it may be “web powered”

Should TV be margins or ratings? (Huffington Post)

Overview of the long tail debate between Chris Anderson and Anita Elberse (Slate)

Nielsen data shows people still prefer the TV set to the computer (Marketing Charts)

New IMMI survey data says that half of online TV viewers are using it as a replacement for traditional viewing (I’m yet to read the full report, but I assume it is an “ever” rather than “always” answer)

Tess Alps of Thinkbox responds to accusations of declining advertising audiences (Guardian) – a tough crowd but you can’t really find fault in her argument. Audiences are fragmenting, which is an issue, but total viewing does appear to be increasing

Bob Garfield predicts chaos for the TV industry (Advertising Age)

How the dip sits between the head and the long tail (Seth Godin)

Ever increasing levels of product placement (New York Times) – with Fox News taking it to the next level

Sega’s Game Gear adverts in Viz from the early 1990s (UK Resistance) – I like these; it shows the brand addressing the media it is advertising in

ANA Marketing Insights May 08 (Slideshare presentation) – a very useful resource

The power of FREE! (Neuroscience Marketing)

Notes on the 40 years of planning event (Brand Republic)

Dealing with analysts – funny Slideshare from RedMonk

A very engaging slideshare presentation on Content Marketing from Helge Tenno

Lucy Barrett on dying brands (Guardian) – I suppose this is the stage before they come back zombified

24 unforgettable advertisements (Toxel) – funny mix of outdoor and experiential

The six laws of customer experience e-book (Experience Matters)

Songs about brands (Guardian)

Some very high quality posts in there, but the three I would recommend most highly are Old media deathrace 5000Bob Garfield predicts chaos for the TV industry and A very engaging slideshare presentation on Content Marketing

The forthcoming link posts will be:

Monday – Internet and Business

Tuesday – Useful and Interesting (to me, at least)

Wednesday – Miscellaneous

Thursday/Friday – back to the regular schedule

I’ll even try and fit a “content post” into the mix


Exploiting the medium to maximize engagement

After raving about The 21 Steps – the first episode (is that the right word?) of the We Tell Stories adventure, I have to say I was disappointed with Week 2’s offering – Slice. It was just too lightweight. The twin narrative wasn’t utilised effectively and the the Twitter feeds were essentially the same text as the blogs formatted differently. Following in real-time admittedly offered some excitement, but this was short-lived. 1 for 2 then, but I will continue to support the endeavour. Week 3 is released today.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I applaud Penguin and Six to Start for identifying the unique features of the medium, utilising its strengths and pushing the constraints. I wish more would do this. Or, if this is a common venture, I wish more people that do this were brought to my attention.

Two of my favourite books of all time are Watchmen by Alan Moore, and Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware. Not only are both superb stories (one revolutionary, the other heartbreaking) but they are also superbly told. Whether nuanced allusions, repeat motifs, parallel stories (sometimes in alternating panels), duplicated images, adjuncts outside of the strip format or dual narrative within the same pane, both writers (and artist) successfully explored the limits of their medium. In my opinion, this elevates two great stories to classics. Others agree.

I would like to see this creativity applied to television advertising. The best adverts circulated virally or collected online tend to be outdoor adverts making unique use of their environment. So what is the television environment? What are its strengths?

The strength most commonly identified with television is its centrality in many people’s lives. It offers national events and watercooler moments. Vast numbers tune in. And vast numbers talk about adverts. Traditionally, television adverts communicated rational benefits. So PG Tips spoke purely about the taste and how to maximise it. Then advertisers learned to tap into people’s emotions, and so the message changed from the product to the image.

And now we have reached a point where adverts don’t necessarily have anything to do with the products they are advertising.

Cadbury Gorilla

So the focus has moved from the message/catchphrase to the image, but not yet the medium. There have been some experiments – notably Match.com with their live advert, but none have caught the imagination. Yet.

My proposal may well be unoriginal, but I am unaware of any brand using it. The format has already proved itself successful in a different guise – board games.

In the right setting, it would work brilliantly. Thinkbox have plenty of research (this is but one example) that show the level of engagement and conversation that result from good advertising. The communal element of television is something that has yet to be fully capitalised upon. Interactivity will take this to the next level. It isn’t even very expensive – while I didn’t believe it when I was 8, Atmosfear is pre-recorded. By creating challenges and inviting the audience to participate, attention is gained. If there is a successful pay-off, it will generate those conversations the following day (or immediately online) and create that word-of-mouth supplement that helps make campaigns.

If an advertiser created enough different versions that went out during watercooler-moment, shared viewing television (whether FA Cup, Britain’s Got Talent or Big Brother) – and perhaps even publicised the times, it would create a sense of buzz and anticipation that is yet to accompany any advertising other than Superbowl spots (while the media world may look forward to the next Sony Bravia advert, I don’t think the general public are particularly bothered). And while I’m not an expert in cognitive psychology or behavioural science, I reckon the people that actively take part in an advert will be more likely to remember it than those that view passively.

I look forward to seeing the format being exploited in new ways. Whether it is an incorporated disruption to the messages in tiny font that whizz across insurance adverts or something more high concept, the opportunity is there.

Excellent creative execution is not inextricably linked to the message. The format – of which the message and the visual are but two constituents – is a rich body of characteristics that is still to be fully explored or exploited.

Are there any adverts in the UK or abroad that currently do this? If so, I’d love to hear about them.


Why companies should advertise on TV during a recession

There is a depressing article on Brand Republic saying that total TV revenues for May could be down as much as 10%. It says that “the expected May fall comes as clients tighten advertising budgets amid worsening economic conditions”. In light of this, I offer an alternative opinion, and state six reasons why advertisers and agencies should have nothing to fear.

1. Higher real incomes: Although economic inequality is rising, real incomes rose for nearly all of the population between 1996-2006. If it weren’t for the rising levels of borrowing, this could have insulated people against a recession. As it is, some of their increased spending will be going on luxury items, which are of course…

2. Recession-proof industries: Not all industries suffer in an economic downturn. Wikipedia lists 15 recession-proof industries. These include such essentials as “necessities” but also “entertainment” and “cosmetics”. Last time I checked, these products and services weren’t inextricably linked to human survival. Advertising has made us consider them essential. And the advertising that does that best is…

3. Brand-building: Particularly with the FMCG industry, there is the temptation to use direct response advertising. These give a short-term boost but not necessarily a long-term. Aside from “brought forward” sales and provoking competitor retaliation, there are the effects of having the brand associated with promotional offers, rather than any emotional associations.

PwC Thinkbox chart

If advertising becomes more about branding than short-term sales, the overall benefits will be greater. And of course brand-building is particularly suited to TV advertising. A PriceWaterhouseCooper/Thinkbox study shows that nearly 45% of TV’s revenue effects are delivered after the year of the investment. (Of course, some might say this is an argument in favour of postponing spend for a year but I would dispute that). Not only will the effects be longer-lasting, but they will be longer-lasting among more people. Because…

4. Commercial impacts are up: As we move to multi-channel, we watch more TV and more commercial TV. Among DTR households, commercial impacts are in fact 5% higher (according to BARB, ACB/LBS and Skyview data). And of course, brand-building ads are more likely to be DTR proof than direct response. So, not only are more people viewing the ads but…

5. TV advertising is becoming cheaper: The IPA Marketing in the Era of Accountability study shows that TV advertising is cheaper now than it was 20 years ago. Another result from this study relates to…

6. Share of voice effects: Campaigns using TV see average market share gain of 2.7 percentage points per 10 percentage point excess share of voice (compared to a gain of 0.7 points for campaigns not using TV). Share of voice has long been shown to be linked to share of market. If competitors are reducing their budgets, now is the perfect time to increase share of voice and share of market.

Although given the compelling reasons outlined above, there could be a game theory style scenario where each company in the market maintains (or even increases) spend in the expectation that their competitors will be reducing theirs. So, spend remains robust but their market share remains constant (all things being equal). Which, from my perspective at a broadcasting company at least, would be nice…


Thinkbox Event – TV & The Brain: How Creativity Wins


Last Wednesday, I attended the Thinkbox event TV & The Brain: How Creativity Wins. The half-day conference explored how psychology plays a role in brand communications and advertising. The argument is that we should be looking towards the emotional and not the rational.

As a researcher, this is a challenge. Rational messages are easy to measure – emotions aren’t. I went into the event wanting to build up my knowledge on the theory, to learn of any practical applications and to leave with ideas on how to improve our understanding of advertising evaluation.

The event was split in two – half on theory, half on application. Personally, I found the first half far more rewarding. My knowledge of psychology was limited to Malcom Gladwell books, but the three excellent speakers broadened my horizons considerably and left me with a lot of things to ponder. I found the second half a disappointment. There were few specifics and the talks were dangerously close to sales pitches.

Tess Alps, Chief Executive of Thinkbox, opened the event in the customary fashion of selling TV as a medium. Continue reading