Women in tech panels - should we Let It Go?

“Does your daughter like Frozen?”

I was at a women in tech type function and trying to be friendly to my round table neighbours.

“Your daughter, is she into Frozen, the movie?”

The women next to me stared blankly, not sure what to make of my alien question. We were talking about how to get young girls into coding and she had mentioned that her five year old loved her work iPad.

"Oh Frooozennn. Yes she loves Frozen. Sorry, I work in an all-male executive team and nobody ever asks me during work hours if my daughter likes Frozen. We only ever talk about rugby and racehorses. Yes she’s mad on Frozen, we have Frozen everything."

There was some criticism this week of the Salesforce Women in tech sessions at their annual conference. What was Oprah’s best friend Gayle King doing asking super amazing tech powerfox YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki about having five children? Why did she not ask her complicated business questions about the future of video in Bangladesh and how dare she bring Wojcicki’s husband into it? Are the proliferation of women in tech panels and programs just token pink-wash and do they have a purpose or should we just -let it go?

I must admit to being a reformed women's conference and panel hater. I thought it was tokenism and embarrassing for women to have to share all details of their life and be asked light weight questions about ‘having it all’. Two ideas changed this:

1. Realising that there are challenges that are unique to women and no amount of wishing it away is going to change anything. Women have babies, you know, biology. Women are usually the primary care givers, especially when children are young (also biology). Generally speaking I would say that women think and worry about their life stages and how they are going to integrate family and work (in fact, I know they do because I did some research on it at uni). 

I think it’s positive to talk about work and home integration and people like Wojcicki and her mentees, Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer all make it ok and provide examples for people to follow.  Women like talking about their children and families. Marissa Mayer recently published a Tumblr post celebrating her pregnancy with twins and proudly declaring that she would continue to be the CEO of Yahoo. I think these women should be championed for their ability to manage work and family and it’s interesting and an experience that’s unique to women. The fact that men don’t get asked these kinds of personal questions about how they manage work and family is a non-issue to me. 

2. I don’t know where this saying comes from and it’s kind of old-timey but, you have to bless the path in front of you

Women have a hard enough time as it is and fault finding women in tech panels and programs is not helpful. The last thing we want to do is create a minefield where women and men can’t ask certain questions, highlight different individuals or speak freely about their lives. The more women are seen, given a voice and allowed to tell their stories, the better. The glass ceiling won’t be broken by throwing stones from the outside. Making it OK for people to talk about their five year old daughter’s Frozen fix, pregnancy news and fifth child as part of a future of technology discussion will. 

The one thing you can do today to properly understand social media

If you want to understand how social media works, listen to the Facebook earnings calls. I tell people this.They don’t listen to me. 

That’s why I’m happy to tell you my little secret here, because you probably would rather pay two thousand dollars to go to a half day workshop and listen to people who aren’t Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg talk about social media. That’s up to you. 

Facebook has the family lunchbox users and Twitter wants them
And then Sheryl would have explained to you that social media is still a very small part of most brand’s marketing mix and that there is still a big job to do with marketers getting them to understand how to use and measure the ad products to demonstrate ROI. That would have explained to you the Twitter Australia/ Nielsen TV presentation last night and also the overly sorry apology from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo for not zapping enough trolls because they need to reposition Twitter as family friendly. The proactive communications machine roared into life well before the Twitter earnings results this morning which showed that, other than the Google deal, there wasn't much to say. 

Tony-hater of keyboard warriors, the Internet, coffee and the future of the free world
Apparently the Twitterati trolling politicians like former Prime Minister of Australia Tone Abetz for calling social media ‘electronic graffiti’ is not good content for top media buyer Woolworths selling 85 cent loaves of bread to working families so everyone needs to be a bit nicer so Twitter can attract newer, more gentle, kid’s lunchbox users and take some TV ad revenue. You would have heard Mark Zuckerberg explain very clearly to you that social media updates started as text and then went to photos- where Facebook got the big mainstream growth surge from- and that the next wave is mobile video. So if you want to make your posts to rank well on Facebook, perhaps you could post a video? Just a thought… 

If you are the one person that heeds my advice, then the Twitter earnings call this morning is a walk in the park to understand. You would have heard Sheryl talk about the growth of video on mobile and instantly understood why Twitter have incorporated video into their mobile app this week. 

You would have heard Mark talk about search and providing a search experience that ‘nobody else on the internet can provide’. By that he means Google. So then you would understand why Twitter has restarted their deal with Google to index data for search because everyone seems to go through the process of figuring out that a walled garden always seems like a good idea for ad revenue but it’s a big fail for content and discovery. 

Next gen products-mobile, visual, hyper social friend networks
You would have heard Sheryl talk about ‘next generation’ products like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and understand why Twitter launched group direct message functionality.You would have heard the Facebook CFO chappie Dave say (at great speed) that ad prices went up 300%, mainly due to growth in mobile video ads and because they can measure stuff better now. Um what? Yes the prices are going up. 

It’s brilliant, Facebook tells you everything. You have to be a bit more Turing code-breaker to pick the winners in the Google call because it’s basically everything they aren’t talking about that’s interesting. Analysts are spooned up some token numbers about ad network rates that don’t really mean much and then there’s a dismissive hand waggle to ‘emerging non-ad business’ and Google for Work’s plans to take over the world with their operating systems and work tools …look at the self-driving magic Noddy cars everyone!

Today, Facebook is setting the pace in social, definitely in a commercial sense and arguably in an innovation sense and they are worth listening to to give you clarity about the big chunky things that matter in the industry whether you personally like Facebook as a platform or not. 

But that’s up to you. 

No good times for New York Times but some of us are smiling

"The Times will hit another milestone — 900,000 — in paid digital subscribers in the upcoming Q4, up from the 875,000 at which it finished the third quarter. That will represent almost 3 percent of the Times domestic unique visitors of 31 million...
More than half of The New York Times’ traffic is now mobile, up from about 33 percent a year ago”

Those are some numbers from the New York Times Co. Q3 earnings release and there is some hard reading in there and a lot of 'loss' and 'decline' stuff. The Times always gets picked over mainly because it seemed to represent ‘the one that would survive’. 

-It had the brand. We wrote reports about the future of news brands and destination URLs. Trusted brands.

-It had high quality journalists with personal brands that would drive traffic. 

-It had a huge subscriber base that would be converted to digital through magazine style formats on iPad. Readers would pay money for this new digital magazine iPad app thing and everyone could return to their corner office and pick up their dry-cleaning to go to the media awards. It’s at the casino. Can you get my EA to order a taxi please? 

Three percent conversion isn’t much though is it for all that effort to run a news operation? Sounds like an email marketing campaign. And the print subs are really crashing out now. 

So now the reality is hitting and a quick read through the earnings release will show you keywords like “restructuring”, “layoffs” and "losses". Lots written about the loss of this and the loss of that. 
YouTuber Troye Sivan and his parentals

What we didn’t factor in:

-Facebook as the primary driver of news site traffic

-People reading the news on their mobile phone screens and snacking on links their friends curated on social sites

-Buzzfeed running newsrooms with way less cost and way more agility and way more cats

-Teenagers on YouTube running their own media channels from their parent's house

New Zealand fur seal sunbathing on Sydney Opera House VIP entrance steps. Like a VIP.  

The social web. 

Your friends (IRL and URL) as your editors of choice. A distributed information network run by people with little computers in their pocket who lol'd and commented and shared all day long. All bloody day long on the social things. Nobody predicted it would happen this quick and it makes me quite happy. It makes me happy because I was seeing things that I couldn't really explain in a report in any commercial way but I knew they were happening. I knew I got my news from Twitter and my info was running about a day ahead of mainstream media. I knew there were people I followed (and still do) who I have no idea about them or what they do but I just really like their social streams. It's sad panda that people have to lose their jobs and all that but then, I had to walk away from projects too because I could see a wave was building and the teams I was working with weren't in a position to catch it. I wasn't in a position to catch it and I had to paddle out and hope like hell my imaginary wave was there. It is there and it's real and that makes me happy. I'm sorry if you aren't pleased about the changes but for some of us, this is very good news because we made choices (with very real consequences) a few years back and they are now paying off. Reading this release made me realise I'd made the right choices and I really like the new media environment much more anyway. 

Good times. 

Marketing software to self-educating customers

Users are getting a bit more clever and they want to research and try things for themselves before they commit to the full assault of your sales team. 

"Cisco’s customers were beginning to purchase and use technology in new ways. Increasingly, tech-savvy business managers, instead of just IT professionals, were making buying decisions; user-generated applications were being added on top of the basic technology; cloud computing was becoming prominent; and digital media was becoming a key influence in deciding which technologies to purchase. Customers were self-educating and researching buying decisions in new ways – not just with a sales person." http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/10/help-your-team-spend-time-on-the-right-things/

Self-educating customers, the horror. I'm always moaning that enterprise software companies make you sit through half day demos and then you get to the end and you can't have a play around. Two things I came across today that are good. Splunk. See these guys are smart enough to create a sandpit for you to have go with. Very good, everyone do this please

grab your dataz and have a go
product info and play area

Number two is this launch campaign from Adobe for Premier Clip. It’s a free mobile movie making app that aims to make video more accessible and useable for those that don't want to go hard out with Final Cut Pro. 

#madewithclip Purrrmiere -get it hahaa 

I really like the video with the marketing team explaining their products and the simple walk throughs that encourage users to download straight away and try for themselves.  

Content is all tagged up and optimised nicely. Personal and useful and makes everything look easy and fun while still maintaining the product quality of Adobe Creative Cloud. Most excellent blog links through to themed user content 

Think about products and tools that you use regularly and how you originally came across them. Self education is getting more crucial for marketers so always think how you can get your products into the hands of your users ASAP before their little minds wander off to the land of cat gifs --ooo look it's Maru (=^‥^=)

no1 best cat on the internet Maru

Australia Online Landscape Review - September 2014

Who loves a good landscape review? I certainly do and now that there is a mobile and tablet index you can impress your friends and colleagues with exciting phrases such as:

-do you know what the top three streaming brands by audience are because I do -YouTube, Facebook, and Vevo

-if you had read the top 10 mass merchandisers by audience data you would know that -Amazon, Woolworths, Coles head that list

-11.5 millions Australians 14 yrs + access the internet everyday via smartphone, up 1 million YOY - it's important to regularly review the online landscape I find. 

Be the smart annoying one in your meeting today. View the full report:

How to make wonderful mobile ads on the new audience networks

Mobile ads have always been a bit crap and everyone likes the idea that they might work because everyone has a phone and personalised data and measurability, it would all be so wonderful. 

wonderful

The reality is that trying to do something amazing on a 50px postage stamp with screens that change size all the time and the whole Steve Jobs anti-Flash Apple thing has resulted in some pretty terrible mobile ads. Have you seen people at a conference stand up and present on how amazing their Leaderboard ads are? No. Because they are crap and nobody cares. 

this blog post is also wonderful- $236 on candy crush

Then, some smarty brains people like King (makers of Candy Crush) bolted ahead of everyone else and sold imaginary wands and extra lives to people in a game where you bop little coloured balls and everyone went nuts for it and they made heaps of money. So then people realised that people can interact with things on little screens and not in Flash, you just have to think about it a bit differently. 

I know this all might sound a bit basic to some of you but I kid you not, I went to a catalogue launch for an AU/NZ retailer and the whole thing was in Flash. Someone at their expensive agency probably took the print pdfs and went into Adobe InDesign File>Export>Flash Player SWF, yep that’s all they had done and that sort of thing really annoys me so the more you can understand and question the approach, the better result you’ll get. 

So users wanted rich designs that made the most of their zillion dollar mobile phone screens like they saw in games and responsive design and HTML5 meant that that could happen which is great and sort of where we are today. 

Publishers and ad tech companies are cranking out lots of new mobile ad formats that are more responsive -change to suit what device the user is viewing on -Boston Globe is an example that Adobe often use so grab your neighbours phone and watch the copy and ads moving around as it adjusts to the device. If you all work for the same company and have the same phone then have a play with some online emulators like Mobile Test and Mobile Phone Emulator

Facebook claim to have nailed some new formats that have started serving through their Atlas network. I tried to get a new fancy ad come up on Shazam but all I got was this old-school Leaderboard that isn't worth talking about at a conference but the one they have in their post is quite cool and I’ll just keep tagging songs until I get it. 

nope

In saying that, the audience generation part might be interesting because it’s meant to be serving ads off what books I’ve read in Facebook— ‘Atlas, send her the boring version of the Vodafone ad’

nope -wonderful song though

Google Admob network have also released some new formats that seem heavily influenced by YouTube’s successful TrueView format where a little video trailer plays and advertisers only get charged when a user doesn’t hit the skip ad button. There are also some screen takeovers that mimic a print magazine ads so your designers will be happy about that. With the trend towards larger phone and tablet screens perhaps the whole digital magazine/catalogue thing might finally start kicking in with some decent revenues?

tiny wonderful videos

As evidenced by my boring Vodafone ad (sorry Vodafone but I am writing a blog post about it so tell your manager your ad was amplified and created conversations= earned media :)) and the success of mobile games apps we can see that Creative is a thing and using the formats properly is going to take some skills but I think a good place to start is to start paying attention to formats you like and copy them. Evernote web clipper is a useful browser tool you can use or just screenshot ads on your phone and look at sites like mobile-patterns.com for ideas about how you could integrate ad formats better into your apps and mobile pages. 

I wouldn’t even worry too much about how much you are paying for mobile ads at the moment - I know that sounds a bit wrong but get the formats working properly and think more about what you could potentially do with them because it’s all going to be a bit made-up at the start until the formats settle down and the audiences improve through the networks. Have a go at a video trailer in app mobile ad thing and an in-app Facebook Atlas thing and in the very least, you’ll learn something and have a place to start improving from and it will all be wonderful. 

Understanding the new influencers: AUT guest lecture

What a lovely time I had on Wednesday at the new Sir Paul Reeves buildings at AUT campus. 

sorry Simon Devitt I pinched another one of your photos

I was invited to do a guest lecture on social influence for the third year IMC (integrated marketing communications) course which was great because I got to see all the nice new things and meet some real life student people.

real life students

I’ve put the slides up on slideshare but I decided to go for the all photos thing so you might need to click into the speaker notes to make sense of it. 

Main things are:

1. Broadcast communications can move the herd

2. Internet created more publishers and rise of democratised communications. New influencer emerge on platforms like Youtube, Vine, Instagram

3. Customers are more empowered and can curate, comment and share content. Look for people they trust and who are like them. 

4. Big seed marketing e.g. Buzzfeed. Create content that appeals to people and they distribute and share, decide what’s popular

5. Customers are employees and vice versa. Whole person approach- harness the power of the BWN Bored at Work Network to distribute and share your messages e.g. Zappos Big brands and advertisers struggle to personalise and need to partner with influencers.

Then I worked my 'Lecture Hand' so everyone could see there was some serious business going on right there

live action shot of lecture hand

Thanks for having me and I hope everyone learned something. One of the students told me he was going to go home and set up a YouTube channel and start vlogging so I'm glad my 'stay in school but please make sure you can make things' plea was received by someone. 


Useful resources for getting unstuck on your social media campaigns

It always amazes me the that people working in marketing and communications industries have such a blind spot about asking the technology vendors how to best use their products. I was working on an FMCG Facebook campaign for an agency in Sydney the other day and we weren’t sure about the best way to consolidate pages that had been run by various agencies and marketing teams over the years.

We got a bit stuck about what you could and couldn’t do so I asked for their Facebook account manager’s contact to get an answer. 

“Um. We don’t have one. There was this guy that called once but…why would you call Facebook?”

“Can you call Facebook? It’s just a sales office I don’t think they help you”

In Australia and New Zealand we have got very used to being self sufficient and not having any product support but remember that things have changed and many companies have had their hands forced into putting boots on the ground in market including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Often the resource is targeted at accounts over a certain spend or certain verticals they’re targeting but in the least, you should be going for their resources and guides to get you unstuck as a first point of call. 

Sometimes it’s just to get a download of the latest resources and examples. I find 20 minutes with an account manager can give me an idea of what campaigns they are benchmarking off, what their latest tools are and any metrics we might want to pay more attention to. 

Use their resources and guides as much as possible and don’t be weird about ‘they just try and sell us ads’. Of course they do, and aren’t you in business too? Learn from them, get some logins for their client resources, ask about latest tools and best practices -it’s their product and it beats everyone sitting around stuck. 

Useful resources
Facebook Media http://media.fb.com/

LinkedIn Sales Navigator http://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/training.html

Twitter for Business https://business.twitter.com/

Google mobile playbook http://www.themobileplaybook.com/en-us/

Social media campaign benchmarking by country http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/australia

YouTube advertising guide http://www.youtube.com/yt/advertise/

The one book you need to understand how TV actually works

I love TV and one Sunday afternoon I picked up a book at a dodgy secondhand book store on K Road that completely changed my understanding of it. You see, most new media discussion on TV falls into three broad categories: how people get TV, how people consume TV and how it's made and funded. I didn't know much about the third part until I read this book and parts of it have since been made into a documentary so you can learn about TV, on TV -amazing. 

1. How people get TV
There are two main ways you get TV -over the internet like Netflix or via a satellite type set-top box thing like Foxtel or Tivo. That’s about it. There are channel offers and the product stuff, trying to increase the ARPU by bundling with data and mobile phones and things. Newish player like telcos are going to extraordinary lengths to convince everyone that what they have is something different but it’s usually not really. 

2. How people consume TV
Then there’s the ‘how people consume TV’ part which is on new devices like mobile and marathoning episodes, on demand viewing, time shifting and that side of things and how it impacts on audience and media buying. Getting warmer and slightly more interesting. Twitter, Twitter Sport and second screen viewing has really revitalised interest in this side of TV and tapping how live viewing with other people in community works. 

3. How people fund TV and content quality
Government and private sector funded TV production and distribution. Now this is the really interesting part and I would like to learn a lot more and see more discussion about this side of TV. It’s usually nodded to as ‘quality content’, ‘viewers will pay for quality content’,’advertisers want to work with quality content’.  

So what's the book?

Kerry Packer was the master of wrapping desirable, cost effective to produce content in a model that advertisers wanted to buy and consumers wanted to lie on the couch and watch with his invention of one-day cricket. One of the most important things you can do in your life is read the book The rise and rise of Kerry Packer. You will learn how TV actually works and also how to get the government to buy you an $800 million satellite with taxpayer money so you can launch a pay TV network. It’s extraordinary. The documentary Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War is also well worth a watch

Kerry Packer Melbourne Cricket Ground

Downton Abbey costs $1.5 million an hour to make. According to a Screen Australia report on television funding, the adult drama it supports costs about $1 million an hour. Overall, drama in Australia costs about $550,000 an hour to make, compared with documentaries at $250,000 an hour, a comparative steal.

When you see it
It costs Australian broadcasters far less to buy shows from overseas. It varies widely, but even if there is a bidding war for the top shows, the upper range would peak at about $150,000 to $200,000 an hour.

If you were a broadcaster trying to please your shareholders, why wouldn't you just concentrate on buying overseas blockbusters instead of making an Australian drama? Well, because the government tells you to; 55 per cent of programming on the main commercial channels has to be Australian, except for the overnight shift when anything will do.

Let that sink in. 
Once you get that part of the equation, things like why Disney paid what it did for Pew Die Pie and how much Tyler Oakley makes off YouTube suddenly make sense. Ridiculous amount of money going through streaming companies for major league baseball live sport rights would seem completely logical to Fanta-drinking Kerry Packer. 

Three is the hard part for commercial media and it’s the hard part for branded and owned media like your company YouTube channel or video posts. Products like Google Hangouts suddenly become more interesting to work with when you stop and remember it’s not costing you the 60-100k an hour it costs networks to make a live news chat show. 

Three is the hard part. The content. Releasing a re-stickered set top satellite box and bundling it with other services is a little bit interesting but not really.Measuring how audiences behave and interact with content is getting warmer but getting quality, desirable, cost effective content is hard and any discussion about TV without that crucial piece just misses the point. 

Further reading: Australia - Pay TV - Historical Analysis - 1994-1997 

Structuring enterprise social content teams

Choirs of angels. Buzzfeed have come up with a simple, ‘three content bucket’ structure for differentiating between types of social content: Buzz, Buzzfeed News, and Buzzfeed Life. 

When you talk about ‘social media’ in a company remember that everyone usually defaults to thinking about apps and short snacky type content like Facebook updates and tweets.  Buzzfeed call this Buzz or BuzzTeam for ‘socially-oriented, experimental content’. The thing about this type of content is that everyone enjoys working on it and massively overestimates both how good they are at it and the value it brings to the organisation. It’s important to have it in the mix for attraction and content distribution, but is also the most difficult to measure and can result in a lot of junk that doesn’t really do a lot. 

For most organisations, the Buzzfeed News part will form the earned (media relations, PR) arm of your content strategy. Things like live event or conference coverage, industry news, business results, new appointments, store openings and product announcements. Your blog or blog network should be the home base for this type of content on a company-owned online space.

Your Buzz social team will work with the news team to make the content more digestible and interesting to audiences through engaging headlines, attractive photos and updates through various social media channels like LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Skills like writing, video production, editorial and researching skills, as well as media relations and strategy are needed in the News area. 

Buzzfeed Life is the really new area where organisations need to pay more attention and resource up for client-side, branded media production. Buzzfeed say that their Life team has mainly grown out of success with Pinterest for ‘lifestyle content like parenting tips, recipes, or how-to guide’. You can adapt this to your organisation by thinking about how to better equip and help customers with case studies, maps, how-to videos, whitepapers, playbooks, recipes, budget advice, online calculators, restaurant reviews and inspiring photos.  People developing this type of content will be working more like a traditional ad agency. Depending on the size and structure of the organisation, you might also be making paid media decisions in here about placing Google ads, buying Twitter Cards, making and placing Facebook ads and YouTube sponsored content. 

The three all work together.  So if you are doing a new store opening you might have the Buzz team giving away branded vouchers and T-shirts that the Life team produced. The News team publish blog and vlog posts about some brand ambassadors who might be at the store getting photos with customers.  Paid ads produced by the Life team run on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to promote the new store opening specials.  I know you're thinking 'that's cool for them but we are a boring government agency' but if you work backwards from how a customer or stakeholder might come across and consume your content you'll find it does make sense and the real challenge is getting teams of people who have flexible skills to work across different formats such as blogs, videos and social channels. Buzzfeed are also known for testing and measuring everything so there is also an analytics component to factor in. Most is done at an individual, content producer level and the teams are benchmarked with dashboards to deliver the most effective and shareable formats. 

Start small. Even getting teams that haven't worked together to agree on one hashtag can be a challenge at the start but take the tiny triumphs and try to keep the focus on News at the start as everyone will want to talk about and work on Buzz. Also, try and be realistic with Life content. You probably won't be able to produce a $5 million Samsung TVC in three hours on a $300 Go Pro. Learn to develop formats that you can make with your existing tools and that are sustainable. One simple how-to video per week is a lot more useful than one masterpiece that takes 12 weeks and soaks up hours and hours of time with meetings and sign-off because everyone wants to play movie director. LOL OMG CUTE.  Buzzfeed are awesome at this stuff and it works so learn from them and your content teams will probably enjoy working on projects a lot more too.