It's good to be home

Well it’s been two weeks since my return to New Zealand. I watched Hunt for the Wilderpeople on the Sydney to Auckland flight (how great was Taika’s cameo in the church scene? lol) and then caught the little plane to Taupo. 

“Kia ora”

A super nice lady on my Taupo flight introduced herself and we started chatting about her travels. She was a New Zealander living in Australia and her husband had died suddenly of a heart attack. So she was in the process of getting the body transported back to his marae down Gisborne way. Air New Zealand requires that the body is embalmed before transport and then it gets vacuum packed and then you get a funeral place Auckland side to put the body in a hearse and drive it down the line. It was all morbidly fascinating so I just let her talk and you could tell she was devastated and it was not the trip that she wanted to do. 

They had just booked a cruise and he wanted to do an All Blacks tour so she said she was going to do one to honour him. She had another family tangi to go to in Turangi so that’s where she was headed. 

She apologised for telling me all her worries and her attention shifted to me and how I was going to get home from the airport. She offered me a ride for the 50 kilometres from Taupo airport to my house and made sure I had a place to stay. Once we got off the plane she helped me get my luggage and again, made sure I was OK to get home. 

It made me think of the time in Sydney where we had a client meeting at LARGE CREDIT CARD COMPANY in the CBD. My supposed team mate from the agency was driving and she had a brand new four wheel drive people mover thingo. I made the appropriate ooooos and aaaaas about how nice her new car was and we drove across the bridge to LARGE CREDIT CARD COMPANY. The meeting went late and we left the office tower to heavy wind and rain whipping up the street at 6pm. My supposed team mate, fresh of the company team building evening, then got in her brand new four wheel drive people mover thingo and drove off, leaving me standing on the side of the road in the weather. 

I just remember standing in the rain thinking “NOTE TO SELF: DON’T EVER BE THAT PERSON”. You work you arse off in a job you hate to buy a new people mover thingo to impress your neighbours and can’t even offer your work mate a lift to the nearest train station one block up the bloody road. 

The super nice lady on the flight was doing the hardest trip of her life and she still had the time to be concerned about me. There is an end and maybe we need death to remind us of what’s important. 

It’s good to be home. 

Why I’m moving back to New Zealand (the post I never thought I'd write)

Well this is the blog post I never thought I’d write. 

I love Sydney and have made a home here and always thought this was forever. I have amazing friends, love the weather and my church but sometimes life dishes you up a set of circumstances when you realise that you won’t be on planet earth for very long and you have to get your priorities right. 

So… I’m moving back to Tokaanu (Southern Lake Taupo) to take over the running of my parent’s motel so they can retire. 

Another thing I never thought I’d say but there you go. 

Why now?

Well a lot of things changed for me after my accident. It’s quite interesting that when your world collapses, you are forced to face a lot of your fears. The corporate world runs on fear and insecurity, especially in ad agencies. 

If I don’t work until 10pm every night people will think I’m lazy. 

If I don’t answer the email in 2 minutes people will think I’m incompetent

I don’t have that fear anymore so I found going back to the corporate life, I would just shrug my shoulders at people and walk away. I know who I am and what I’m about and if you don’t get it, well that’s not my problem.

Also, the main reason I’ve loved working in Social has been based in voice. Everyone gets a voice. The way Social has been bastardised by agencies into “pumping stuff into the back of Facebook” really doesn’t interest me anymore and working on one of the biggest influencer programmes in Australia made me resent social and the ‘pay for comment’ machine that it’s become. 

 So basically, I hated what I was doing and then my parents have had some health challenges (my Dad will be 70 next month) and they are ready to hand over the keys. There is also a lot of legal stuff going on to work out my compensation from the accident so I’ve had lots of specialist appointments I had to be in Sydney for but that’s coming to an end (fingers crossed). 

What I will miss:

Lovely friends

Sydney

My lovely apartment and Danish flatmate Martin (actually I should probably tell him I'm moving out...)

My church

My friends

Danish flatmate Martin

What I’m looking forward to:

Being able to write and post whatever I want without corporate drones telling me what to do

Being able to help my parents out

Having a free house and car and business #realtalk

Not having to work on a Windows machine

How you can help me:

The main thing I’m worried about is getting lonely and having no friends because Tokaanu is quite remote and there aren’t many youngish people so please come and visit me. We have thermal hot pools on site and the motel is halfway between Auckland and Wellington. Most people come for the hot pools and to walk the Tongariro Crossing or go skiing at Ruapehu. 

So brace yourself for some outrageous freestyle blog posts, and lots of tweets about painting, carpet laying and bed making. I won’t be doing social for the motel because it’s quite small and ticks along well as it is but I am thinking about buying a backpackers as a next step so send me an email if you know of anyone selling one in the Taupo/Rotorua area. 

I woke up the other morning with a great sense of panic that I’d made the wrong decision and then it dawned on me... “the bullshit is over” and I can go and make some beds and give people extra towels and provide people with free wifi as every accommodation place rightfully should. I am no longer a slave to a game I don’t want to play anymore and I can express myself and be the real me again. I can almost feel my personality flowing back into my bloodstream and that, I'm looking forward to. 

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Deuternomy 5:15

Why I had to break up with New Zealand to settle in Australia

Darling Harbour, Sydney

I remember checking into my hotel at Darling Harbour and asking the receptionist where the water was. I’d just flown in from a freezing cold 4am start Wellington to Sydney flight.

It was like an epiphany. I walked through the palm trees and fountains of the harbour with the warm sun and had a sudden realisation that I was home.

From that day I made the decision that I was moving to Australia for good.

People still ask me how long I think I’ll stay here and look a bit surprised when I say ‘forever’.

Here’s why I say that.

First of all was the overwhelming sense of home that I felt and continue to feel in Sydney.

But you can’t run on feelings forever and, as part of my new migrant zeal, I read a book on the history of Australia.

One of the chapters detailed how there were two types of early settlers to Australia from England: the shipped convicts and those who chose to immigrate.

The author’s theory was that the convicts actually made a better job of settling in Australia because, once they were freed, they had nothing to go back to and made a better go of the new opportunities and adapted to the new conditions.

The voluntary migrants harked back to Mother England and didn’t settle as well. They tried to recreate the life they had in England and didn’t adapt as well.

I decided that I was going to adopt the convict strategy and force myself to forge a new life in my new colony. I banned myself from New Zealand media and old connections. I saturated myself in Australian news and read lots of books on Aussie history and politics. I went on tours of Canberra and the New South Wales parliaments and followed Mike Baird on Twitter.

I even tried to convince people that I was ‘from Sydney’ but my accent betrayed me so I was, and always will be a Kiwi. Making new friends and social connections was one of the hardest things but I’m glad I pushed through the pain barrier and the seeds I’ve sown are bearing fruit now.

My Mum and I at Darling Harbour Convention Centre

Slowly, as I’ve got more planted, I’ve allowed more ‘’New Zealand” back into my life. I still listen to Radio New Zealand at work any my family recently visited and we did all the tourist things in Sydney which was fun.

I go to a physio from Auckland and one of the other physios says he can hear us in the treating room ‘talking Nuw Zeelund” and it’s like a dull mumbled hum.

Someone asked me the other day if I identify as Aussie now and I surprised myself by saying no,  I am a New Zealander. We had to break a few things off to move forward but we're good now. 

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:

Research: Online video growing but Millenials still watching trad TV

I’ve just been flicking through the latest comScore US TV report and a couple of things jumped out

1. The idea that Millenials (18-34 yrs) don’t watch traditional TV is not entirely right. Yes the trad TV numbers are decreasing and viewing is shifting to mobile devices but it’s about a 1/3 of users and there is still a significant audience on the big blue bar. 

2. The main driver for watching TV content on the internet is schedule flexibility and convenience. Skipping ads and cost were are lesser factors in this study

The recommendation from Omnicom to move 10-25% of TV ads dollars to online video sounds ballparkish sort of right (depending on your audience and product type yada yada of course) and remember that customers are following the high quality content so they might be watching full episodes online and on traditional TV.  

full report if you want to have a look: US total video report October 2014


Hoodies up it's time for marketing tag management 101

Lots of little hoodie wearers are going to be visiting your marketing teams talking about ‘tagging’ so it’s probably a good idea to give yourself a crash course first so you don’t get confused panda about the whole thing. 

It's just really seeing 'did the customer come this way?'
Measurement and attribution has always been a pain with both online and offline conversions so companies want you to ‘tag’ up your sites so we can all see what’s going on and what paths customers are taking and where referrals have come from and that sort of thing. 

Web page tagging is a lot like graffiti tagging. Companies use their third party tag’ to show that users have visited somewhere. So companies like Facebook and Google want you to put their tags on your pages so they can show that customers visited your pages on their customer journey. Metrics and research providers like Kissmetrics and Nielsen also use tagging technology to measure who is doing what on a page. A tag is a snippet of code that goes in the html in the page.

"We have nerds that do that, I’m just the marketing person. I think we have all that anyway"

Tagging for mobile

Yes and this where it starts to get interesting and you do need to know this for yourself. You might have heard this week about Facebook launching something called Atlas for ad serving. When you think Atlas think mobile and think mobile video —those auto play videos that are turning up on your Facebook iPhone app.Central to Atlas are Facebook custom audiences. You create a Facebook custom audience by putting a ‘tag’ Facebook Custom audience pixel, on all  your pages. The current FBX ad serving stuff is limited to desktop inventory only. Custom Audiences from Your Website allows targeting across browsers, overlaying of Facebook data, access to mobile inventory, and usage of all Facebook ad units, all of which are not available on FBX. It's the thing that gets read and messed about with in Atlas so they want you to put it on all your things. You can read more about it here

Ok but what about if you don’t really use Facebook, why is this important?

The end game is to connect company data with Facebook data with customer data. The uses are wider than Facebook and the model is one being explored by lots of advertising companies so the more you understand it the better. 

For example, if you go to the supermarket and use a loyalty card, the supermarket has point of sale scan data linked to your personal data on the loyalty card. Using Atlas, the shopper’s data can be imported from a big enterprise database like Oracle and analysed to create highly targeted audiences back into Facebook and, ultimately across online and offline ad networks. Cookies aren't that great on mobile and advertisers want to get to user-level rather than session level measurement so you can imagine with mobile phones, getting down to an individual with a lot more context like geo-location becomes possible. 

WOAH. Yes woah and that’s why you need to try and understand as much of this as possible. 

Step 1 I would suggest is make sure Google Tag Manager (there are other tag managers but this one is free and there is a lot of info around on it to learn from) is managed from client side for your brand and that you can access it. Don’t let the tag management sit with an agency or outside your company if at all possible because you need the agility to manage your own tags.  Google Tag manager means that you can change the tags on your sites without having to get developer resource. Tags such as Facebook Custom audience pixel and Google analytics tracking sit inside the tag manager. Get Google Tag Manager installed and then your team manages it. If you don’t know how then start to learn, it’s really important. 

That is the end of my blog post. 

PS:

If the technical stuff is scaring you and you like the investor strategy stuff then maybe start with this recent interview with early Facebook investor Peter Thiel who just happened to write a book with the partner person for Facebook talking about Atlas Shrugged weird magic-nomics which basically says that there was Microsoft and they missed mobile and Google are good at search stuff but Facebook is good at mobile stuff (shhh don’t mention android) and that there is a massive global ad industry and Facebook is all over it so you should invest. 

Then Marc Benioff tweeted that he’s all about Facebook and Atlas and Salesforce exacttarget are doing some partner stuff with the partner person who wrote the book with Peter Thiel and so it’s donkey kong o’clock but we love competition but monopoly is also good and hey, it’s all about the customers SMILEY FACE :))))

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/

Singing Rastafarian sheep signals change at the adland wool sheds

I love this ad even though it sort of fails at doing a lot of ad things. Or does it?

Part of the reason I love it is of course the upper case C Creative-as-a-noun-and-a-person aspect. 

I love the sheep. I love the song. I love it when Zion the cool sheep (I think his name is Zion) staunchly drifts up for his haircut, does a shout-out to his fans, and instructs the shearer to ‘watch me dingleberries mon’

It’s energetic and colourful and single-minded with the sheep/change idea and the music and simple imagery makes it highly YouTube-able (well you know by adland standards not by Tyler Oakley standards).  FCB have shown their old skool roots though and disabled comments for the video which kind of cancels out any wow look at us embracing the futureness a little bit though don’t you think? And captioning the video would have also been a good way to show off how great the song lyrics are:

me doing this for all the hot-hot sheep out there / time for change

gotta get this wool off / get the dag off dag off

The ad fails the Mum test. My Mum actually asked ‘what’s a Eff Cee Bee?” and “what’s it for?” It doesn't have a real promotional mechanic so doesn't that just make it a music video? Or maybe it's a B2B ad and FCB are trying to expand their client list beyond the usual suspects of highly contested Top 20 advertisers who often have massive global buying and creative arrangements running anyway?

Let's say it’s a B2B ad and only industry folk like me and Ben Fahy and maybe Tim Burrowes over at Mumbrella would probably care to talk about it and write a blog post. Look Ben’s already done his. So what was with the ad placement at that time? I saw it on a bluechip slot, Sunday night eat your dinner o’clock broadcast TV. 

Option 1: Cutting room floor Creative that was repurposed because FCB really loved it

Option 2: Award entry show piece blatantly running in a consumer slot to get away from some of the criticism around ad agencies running pure Creative, non-commercial TVCs at 3am Ginzu knife home shopping channel witching hour and claiming it for a Cannes Lion. 

Option 3: Someone got boozed at a media event and talked to a guy at TVNZ and said ‘we just really need to get businesses to understand B2B TV could work really well for them if they just spend the money and execute properly in a decent media buy with strong Creative’. 

Option 4: All of the above

“me feel straaaange” 

It does all feel a bit strange and perhaps that’s why I like it. Here’s an agency that have actually put their energy into showcasing what they can do and come up with a fresh new approach for B2B TV. Call it self indulgent peacocking or desperate tears that your best work never made it out of the ad shop. Cue arguments as to whether or not upper case C Creative that hasn’t been through the crushing disappointment of beige trousers client sign off and Legal dilution counts for much. Couple it with the desire at the moment for every single ad to have a young, good looking person walking through a changing background of movie-like scenes narrating to the camera (Sky TV, Spark, Meredian Energy). It made me stop and think and it's a change in approach and that ‘feels so good mon.'

How do we know if our paid online advertising is working?

Comscore did a really good paper with a stupid name about four years ago ‘Whither the click’ (?) and it gives you some good foundations for understanding performance on paid digital ads. 

Like most things in marketing it’s important to not oversimplify to the point of removing the quality audience discussion. So if you were to say ‘does advertising on TV work?' anyone worth their salt would say ‘well it depends on the placement and the reach and the promotional mechanic and the creative execution and what you were trying to achieve in the first place' and work backwards from there. You know- ‘customers’ and all that jazz. With digital you do the same thing however, I think there are a couple of things we can start with. 

First, are you talking about display or search campaigns? So when I go to Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald this morning the first display ad I got served was cloud host Rackspace

If I search for 'cloud provider Sydney' in Google then I get their paid search campaign too (now that wasn’t planned, I was actually looking for a Retail ad to go into the point below from the stupidly named report but you get the idea).  

A combination of display and search. So when you start talking about ‘the online ads’ or the ‘I don’t think the web ads are working’ be clear what you are talking about; display or search. 

Second, it’s very rare in any media plan that one channel is doing all the work, they work in together. Yes that’s annoying and it makes things difficult to measure but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that one instance or one channel is making or breaking your campaign outcome:

"In the Retail category, it is also clear that while the lift in sales from a display ad is lower than the lift from a search ad, the reach of a display campaign is typically far higher than that of a search campaign. When the sales lift is weighted by reach, display campaigns generally outperform search campaigns. However, the combination of a display and search campaign delivers substantial synergy, with the sales lift from the combined strategy being greater than the sum of the individual components." comscore 'Whither the click'

So it’s the combination of display and search that results in the retail sales lift in this example. We’re seeing this pattern across a number of industries and you just need to spend some time in paid search forums to see analysts summarising their campaign results with ‘we got the best result from a combination of paid display and search’and then looking at how they can take the intent identified in the search and make it into a display ad to influence behaviour change and/ or conversion. 

The third thing (this applies across all forms of advertising and communications) don’t assume it’s the Creative that is or isn’t doing the work and getting the result you want. 

If you stare at this bar chart for a little while, you can see that the eight bars represent eight different campaigns the company executed. The red bits are display ads that totally missed the audience. Green were bang on and there are some other colours in the middle. It would be easy to look at eight different campaign executions and get in a big discussion about fonts and images and copy without understanding that it was actually the campaign delivery (target and frequency) that was changing in the background. Does that makes sense? The easiest way I think of it is imagine you are in a conference centre with lots of breakout rooms. If you go and deliver eight different presentations to eight different audiences it’s not only the font on the Powerpoint slides that is changing. The audience is changing, so start with the figuring out ‘which room has the best audience for what we’re trying to achieve’ and work back from there. The frequency is how often you deliver that presentation to that audience. Some rooms may cost more to access than others, but if they contain the right people who are going to transact with you, then it’s worth the investment and better than talking to a cheapo room full of dud leads. 

And in the grand scheme of your campaign, the whole room probably isn't going to rush at you with their cash and buy what you're selling after you deliver the first slide. It makes things trickier to measure, this is true but since when has marketing and ad performance been easy to measure? The most important thing is that you have a good understanding of what's actually going on first before you get scrambled in the data. 

Snacking on the 'State of the News Media 2014'

I found this table interesting with all the talk at the moment about 'media snacking' and bite-sized news consumption. It shows you how important it is to focus on what you are trying to achieve with content. You might be getting good clicks off social and through to your content but it's important to also look at bounce rate and time on site metrics. The table also shows that mastheads and news brands still matter with direct traffic spending more time on site, making more visits and viewing more pages; giving you more options for monetising your news through advertising or native content or sponsored stories or content co-creation or any of the other things you want to call advertising, other than advertising. 

The Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project, in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, looks into how news is functioning in the social media space.

Overall the report highlights that while news creation, distribution and consumption has changed with technology, the industry issues remain kind of the same. Advertising is still the main form of revenue. News brands and mastheads still matter. Local news is getting a rebirth with syndicated TV content customised through smaller stations. 

There’s a lot jammed into this report and it’s worth getting comfortable and having a good chew through it all as it's nice meaty, reliable data and analysis. 

Suggested report reading posture:

Suggested cups of coffee required: 3
Should I save this to somewhere because I might need it for a presentation or something? Yes.
Where's the link to the full report? Here. State of the news media 2014