I'm getting used to the realisation that I'm never likely to have an original thought. So I'm looking on the bright side.
Rather than mourning my assumed originality, I now celebrate finding someone who shares my outlook.
I experienced this tonight, while trawling the blogosphere and coming across this post from the fantastic Beeker.
Saturday, 19 April 2008
I'm getting used to the realisation that I'm never likely to have an original thought. So I'm looking on the bright side.
Thursday, 17 April 2008
I love the fact that even now, after centuries of human curiosity and exploration we can still discover things that surprise us about the world in which we live. Like the recent discovery (reported in New Scientist) that there are unexplained 150km wide stripes of currents going in alternate directions across the earth's oceans. Apparently these currents, while weak, exist all over the planet and run from the surface to the ocean floor, and correspond to peaks and troughs in sea level.
These currents were discovered by a team at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego by satellite tracking 10,000 drifting ocean buoys over the course of 10 years. They are, it would appear, fairly inconsequential but how cool is it that we are still finding some fundamental things out about Earth that we can't explain? It makes me feel excited and fearful about what we might find in the future. It makes the world feel like a newly undiscovered land. What a great feeling when it's easy to feel that humanity has covered the world like a plague of locusts, leaving few places wild. All it takes is a new way of looking to have fresh discoveries.
Saturday, 12 April 2008
1) Seeing familiar things expressed in novel, interesting ways
2) The joy when you realise what song the graphic represents
3) And, of course, the joke on all us excel-junkies
The first one is in honour of the "Rick rolling" phenomenon.
Wednesday, 9 April 2008
Here's the viral.
Experts – we approached cycling and motoring bloggers to get them to spread the word and post the video.
Interest Groups – we joined London cyclist/ motoring groups on Facebook and uploaded the video.
Popularity Charts – we used SEO principles to increase the likely views of the film on video sharing sites as well as encouraging and enabling promotion of the video on social bookmarking & news aggregation sites, such as delicious & digg..
All of this was done without giving the game away, so we couldn’t optimise the film for the phase “moonwalking bear”, for example!
After only 2 weeks, (until March 26th, 2008) the ad had received a total of 4.4million views, including;
From Popularity Charts
2.9 million views on video sharing sites with over 1,500 comments
6th Most Viewed Youtube film in UK
1st most viewed in its category globally
1.1 million views driven by social bookmarking sites
From Experts seeding
5,092 views driven from niche cycling/motoring blogs
circa 34,000 results on Google and over 1,400 blog mentions (Technorati)
From Interest groups
11,630 views from groups on Facebook and 4 fan groups
It is estimated that the TV campaign directly delivered 5.92m views. It, alongside the press campaign, drove 400,000 on-line views (based on the first week’s visits). The social media activity then amplified this, delivering another 4m views. This meant we got £140k worth of views for £20k, giving us a saving of £120k and an ROI of 600%. This is not counting the fact that we are only 2 weeks into the campaign (experience tells us that even though our social media activity has stopped, views will continue to rise).
You can read our learning from this campaign and the Brylcreem one, here.
The objective of this campaign was to re-engage a young male audience with the new "B" Range. WCRS came up with the idea of “Effortless Cool” and had a TV script showing a Brylcreem user showing their cool by doing really cool tricks (skateboarding, magic, etc.) effortlessly. In order to create even greater engagement, we decided to run an on-line competition to cast the hero of the ad and the music track to be used. Working with Altogether and OMD, we created the competition on Myspace. This was, in itself, an “Engagement Agent”. But we used further agents to create interest in the competition;
Experts – we approached bloggers in extreme football, magic, street basketball, etc. to get them to write about the competition and drum up interest in it.
Interest Groups – we joined discussion forums and Facebook pages around interests like pen spinning (yes, they exist!) and talked about the competition. Using a channel on YouTube we engaged with these groups by building up lists of our favourite videos.
Popularity Charts – we used SEO to increase the likelihood of the finished ad being found on sites like YouTube, whilst engaging in an old-style media campaign, but with the new media channel that is StumbleUpon.
In all of these types of agents, we gradually released content (including recent entries) to pique interest and build momentum. We created our own blog on Myspace to discuss how the competition was developing.
For only £40k we had 1,208 music entries and 194 video entries. We also had 115,000 views of the top 5 video entries alone. We used the winning trickster and track in the final ad...
You can read our learning from this and the TfL campaign here.
1) Use multiple “engagement agents” across all 3 of the types. This gives you more opportunities.
2) Don’t worry about using agents outside of your target area. Dothetest.co.uk would never have been as popular in the UK if we hadn’t made it popular in video-sharing sites in the US first.
3) Test and learn. A general principle with digital activity but particularly important here. Go with the flow and capitalise on interest where it catches.
4) Be open and transparent with the “agents”. Be clear that this is marketing activity. Do not pretend to be someone you are not.
5) Give the “agents” relevant content. Whether this is the opportunity to win £20k in a competition or an engaging update of how the competition is developing.
The Information Age, with its associated media fragmentation, is making it harder for consumers to discover the content they want. It also makes it is harder for brands to efficiently get their messages across. Moreover, consumers’ control over the content they do engage with means an end to the interruptive model of advertising.
Some commentators claim we are now in the Age of Engagement. Since we can no longer force our way into people’s attention we must make our message sufficiently engaging so that people will seek it out and send it around.
I would argue, however, expecting people to send content (or links to content) to each other is now asking too much of them. As the amount of digital content grows and novelty fades, it is harder to get people to forward content to their friends. We must, therefore, find a new method.
Consumers are increasingly turning to filters in order to help them make sense of the Long Tail of content they might want to experience. Social bookmarking sites like del.licio.us, content sharing sites like YouTube, recommendation software like Last.fm, review sites like ciao.co.uk, even special interest bloggers and discussion forums; all these enable people to easily find relevant content. Putting aside Richard Huntingdon’s fear for the “death of serendipity”, consumers find these filters essential to avoid being bogged down in content. These social media channels are our “new media”. We are moving to an Age of Recommendation where, in order to get our target audience to engage with our message, we must go through the recommenders, or “agents of engagement”.
There are 3 types of Agents of Engagement;
1. Experts – Increasing number of bloggers (both amateur and professional) with a particular area of interest/ expertise, are creating new avenues for brand messages. While the number of people blogging is small (Only 2.25m people have created a blog in the UK, BRMB Internet Monitor) the numbers who read people’s views on-line are huge (56% of UK population, BRMB Internet Monitor).
2. Interest Groups – As Clay Shirky has identified in his book “Here comes Everybody”, it is far easier now to organise into groups of common interest via on-line networks like discussion forums and social networks. He references the Facebook group of HSBC students who managed to get the bank to reverse its policy through organised pressure. The effort that is required to self-organise is now so small that there is probably an on-line group for practically any interest you might think.
3. Popularity Charts – Reading Chris Anderson’s Long Tail you might be forgiven for thinking that in the future there won’t be blockbuster hits. But as Mark Earls has pointed out, we are, if nothing else, herd animals. What we find entertaining is often what a lot of other people find entertaining. This explains the popularity of content sharing sites (like YouTube or Flickr) with their in-built charting mechanisms and social bookmarking sites. Their whole raison d’etre is to enable you to find what other people found interesting.
There are increasing numbers of clients that are realising the benefits of using recommendation.
• Miles Calcraft’s Trident campaign used club DJs, music shops, TV/ radio stations, social networks and video sharing sites to get their anti-gun track called “Badman” distributed. It was watched by 399,000 people; it became Youtube’s 4th biggest viral of 2006; and won the agency a Marketing Week Effectiveness Award.
• Sony have also recognised the importance of recommendation; used the digital PR agency Immediate Future for their Sony Paint ad. They contacted bloggers and created a Del.icio.us page, which was created to support press release activity and enable bloggers easy access to further information.
• WCRS’s Brylcreem B:Effortless campaign
• WCRS’s Transport for Londoncycling safety campaign
You can read our learning from these campaigns here.
Sunday, 6 April 2008
For a while now I've been claiming that I don't have a large enough ego to blog but, to be honest, I simply wasn't creating the time.
I was speaking to 2 friends of mine (who are senior managers of 2 top digital agencies) recently about blogging and they were distinctly unimpressed by it, believing it to be a time-wasting indulgence. I don't think they would be so certain of their opinion if they were planners. Increasingly I believe that the interplay of ideas on-line (through blogs) is essential for strategists.
I'll give you 3 familiar reasons why I've started blogging;
1) Joining the conversation - I've been following the conversation for over a year (and benefiting from it) but to get the most out of any conversation you need to talk as well as listen.
2) Expression forces definition - Spending the time to write my thoughts down in a way that someone else might be able to understand helps clarify those thoughts.
3) The wisdom of crowds - airing the products of my fevered brain in public and inviting comment means I can torture test them before presenting them to any clients.
And one reason that planners who blog rarely admit;
4) Self-publicity - Let's be honest, I would be hugely gratified if anyone read my blog. It's a scary and enlivening way of putting yourself about. I've been telling clients for as long as they will listen to use social media to help influence their brand's reputation. It's time I began to practise what I preach.
I like Seth Godin's idea that it is the uber curious in society that are the cultural innovators, the people that lead the masses to new content. I've also found this article (from David Beswick of the University of Melbourne) which begins to identify what causes a person to be highly curious. According to Beswick, highly curious people have 2 normally contradicting traits; open-mindedness to novelty and a desire for order.
These two traits mean that these "Curiosos" are constantly trying to find more information to make sense of the world. The irony being that the more info they discover, the more the world needs explaining.
While we might not be able to identify these Curiosos with these traits, we can begin to understand them more. This might help us to engage with them and partner with them to spread memes for our clients.
And now the interruptive model is failing and we have to engage people, curiosity becomes an even more important motivation for us to utilise. Faris has written a great post on how the likes of JJ Abrams and Sega have used the curiosity gap to create interest. And the mighty Seth Godin talks about the importance of people with curiosity as cultural innovators.
For something so fundamental, it is curious that there hasn't been that much time spent on this human drive. There isn't any agreement on whether it is innate or learned. This article by Susan Endelman gives a good overview of the theory.
I personally buy into William James' theory that there are 2 levels of curiosity ("innate curiosity" and "scientific curiosity") and that curiosity evolved in animals to give them the advantage of being forwarned of opportunities and threats in their ever changing environment.
So the title of this post should, more accurately, be "curiosity evolved the cat".