Twitter has a problem

I love Twitter. It has opened many doors for me and connected me with wonderful people.  

About three years ago it even connected me with great people who actually work for Twitter and, it was with a lot of excitement that I met some of their executives when they were planning the Sydney office (none of them work in the office now in case you’re wondering). 

It was a time of great hope. We met in a hotel lobby and went out for lunch. I looked at some of the pitch documents from various PR companies and dropped soup dumplings down my top. There was a big push for TV partnerships and sports and we talked about the future of media and I destroyed the PR pitch documents and handed them back. I felt super important like I was at the forefront of something massive. A lot of the talk then was getting the content organised enough to monetise and they were working with sports teams and the like to hashtag correctly, drive conversations and make the feeds marketable. 

We then started talking about ad agencies, media agencies and some of the issues they were facing. The Twitter executives were hanging on my every word when I was talking about ad buying and media commissions, the death of print, the gravy train of TV and the market for “Creative”. I remember thinking it was a little bit strange that I was explaining how ad inventory is bought and sold to them but hey, this was The Future and maybe I was stuck in old school thinking. 

In hindsight, I can see that they had no idea how brands actually buy media. Twitter has a problem. 

They still have no idea how brands actually buy media.

 If they think a client-side brand manager is going to sit at a computer with a company credit card (have you ever seen anyone in a marketing team with a company credit card, let alone using one to buy ads?) then they think wrong. The agencies are sitting in the middle between the client and the media the same way they have since the 1930s and, as much as I would like that to change sometimes too, that's the reality. 

Twitter have pushed out a whole lot of ad products in the last few weeks, none of which I could recommend on a media plan with a serious face unless, brands just want to have a bit of a play. Facebook and Google have done a far better job of working with agencies to get their self-serve models working but it has requited a lot of hand holding and Google have essentially outsourced their client service with the growth of the new industry called “an SEO agency”. 

 I still struggle to get brands to understand that they have to ‘pay to play’ on Facebook and that they should be pushing the social media companies to educate them and provide them with client service. 

I ran into the now former Twitter executive at an event recently (he now works for another large startup) and he shrugged his shoulders and said the same thing. They are pushing out a lot of stuff but they can’t agree on a business model so nothing sticks.  Building a better mousetrap won’t fix Twitter’s problem. 

Why anti social media rants simply don't work -even for the Bieber

It seemed that everyone was having a moan at their audiences yesterday for not behaving properly. 

Justin Bieber sent out orders on Snapchat to his Beliebers that they should not harass him for a photo if he didn’t feel like it. 

"The way you ask or approach me when you want a photo with me is going determine if I take a photo or not,” he warned.

“If I’m walking somewhere or arriving somewhere and you guys are asking me to take a photo, if I don’t respond, if I continue to keep walking, the likelihood is that I probably don’t want to take a photo at that moment.

“If you start screaming louder that’s not going to make me take a photo more.” Everybody got that?

The instructions came after he was screamed at by demanding selfie-hungry fans at Melbourne airport. Surely they should all just enjoy the experience of basking in his presence and not need to get a photo for their social media?

Shortly after, a member of the Bieber entourage posted a video of fans clearly ignoring his directive and Bieber abandoning an attempt to address his fans saying "nevermind, you’re not even listening to me.” (which would make a great song title Justin you should use that -you’re welcome). 

Former Australian Premier Campbell Newman then saddled up on ABC News and complained about the 'click-baiting' of politics and how nobody wanted to take the time to let him explain anything properly. 

What both Newman and Bieber seem to have missed is that their audience, has their own audience and their own objectives. 

The Bieber fans main objective for stalking him at an airport or outside a hotel is to get a selfie for their social media accounts. 

The Twittering political classes love to chirp away at politicians as a form of entertainment. Politicians become the ‘social object’ that is bantered about and finding the funniest meme or calling out a fumble (although a bit mean) is all part of the sport. 

Message control through your own publishing channels is a good thing but don’t think this will translate into the audience changing their behaviour if you haven’t understood their objectives. The Belieber also has a Snapchat account. The voter also has a Facebook or a Twitter account to express their views on. Start with that person’s behaviour and work back from there and don’t get frustrated with the new reality. 

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 to spot a heartless showroomer

I went for a haircut the other day and that was nice because sitting reading magazines and having cups of coffee brought to you is lovely. The most lovely thing about this week’s service experience was that it was in a big renovated house so people were all very relaxed and friendly and talkative. 

How great Lorraine Downes’ hair is on the front cover of the Women’s Weekly was the main topic of conversation.  The hair stylists said they are getting lots of requests for that haircut and that doesn’t she suit it and doesn’t she look great and isn’t she ageing well and yes, she is still really beautiful. 

It was then also agreed that going from long hair to short hair ‘takes confidence’ and Lorraine Downes seems really nice and she’s married to Martin Crowe and the young hairdresser didn’t know who he was and the other people all felt old. One of the older customers called him ‘Marty’ because she met him once and meeting Martin Crowe once means that from then on you call him ‘Marty’…good to know; put that in your Evernote. The person cutting my hair said ‘yes it does take confidence to go from long to short hair and she was really brave’ and I nodded and admired her courageous act on the Women’s Weekly cover. 

Then the conversation moved on to lipstick. The young hairdresser who didn’t know Marty said she was ‘all about’ lipstick and that her favourite one was a Mac one called Morange but that it was expensive so she wasn’t wearing it today because she kept it for good. Another lady suggested that she could ‘maybe buy it online a bit cheaper’ but that she herself didn’t buy things online because that was called ‘showrooming’  and she ’didn’t have the heart’ to do such a despicable thing. 

“It’s destroying all the retailers this showrooming. I wouldn’t have the heart to go in a shop and look at something and buy it online”

Goading young impressionable hairdressers into heartless acts of showrooming Morange lipstick. The shame. 

So just to review:

Lorraine Downes= takes confidence /lovely/ probably not a show roomer/highly requested hair style

Showroomers=heartless/destroys retailers/may or may not wear Morange lipstick/not highly requested hair style

I didn’t have the Lorraine-Downes-confidence to point out that going and looking at an iPhone in an Apple store and then buying it on their website was also showrooming and that it was something that certain brands and retailers encouraged and are very excited about the future of and that are lots of online retail brands like Asos that are doing really well and creating jobs and giving people more choices. That there is also ‘reverse showrooming’ where you look at something online and go into a store to buy it which is actually how I ended up at that particular hair place. So I just kept my non-feelings to myself, drank my nice coffee and didn’t share the dark truth that I too was a heartless showroomer. 

23 reasons it's great HuffPo is coming to Australia (number 17 will surprise you)

The Huffington Post is coming to Australia and that’s great news for people like me who have sat in cubicles at traditional media companies thinking ‘this whole thing just doesn’t work anymore and I want to go home now.'

Now Australia and New Zealand media companies will have a working model of a proper new media company so that we don’t have to skip to page 110 of the Digital First Content Strategy Newsroom of The Future strategy document to try and convince editors that their fears of native content are largely imaginary and that the smiley-faced external consultancy person walking around with a spreadsheet who keeps disappearing into that meeting room that’s locked all the time is more likely to cause you pain and suffering by process of redundancy than writing a blog post for Toyota about driving a four wheel drive car up a ski field. 

HuffPo (or as the ABC charmingly calls it "the liberal American online news aggregator and blog") is brazen about native advertising, blogger friendly, and happy to talk about machines curating content through behavioural targeting.  Sponsored and branded content discussions are not imaginary but actual real-life things that happen and result in advertisers paying money to media companies so that they can pay editorial teams and journalists and everyone can pay for their groceries and maybe a new pair of shoes now and again.Great. 

The media industry gets more competition, The Guardian and Buzzfeed (oh look- they’re here already) come to Australia so talented local people like First Dog on The Moon get to develop new characters like the Westboro Baptist Hate Octopus, and we don’t all have to read about climate change being imaginary, rugby union, rugby league, Aussie rules rugby, and racehorses all the time. 

Koda Wang is the HuffPo person getting all the Australian stuff ready to go and he said the second quarter of 2014 generated about as much revenue in terms of native advertising than the whole of 2013. That's called growth and growth is good because the opposite of growth is decay which results in death and killing and book titles like this one:

Professional aggregator of liberal cat video bloggists Koda Wang said,"we keep the same bar of quality for native as we do for editorial. A lot of editors that create our native content come from our newsroom - they know how to create good content. It's also important to make sure native advertising is clearly labelled. And it's got to be authentic to the brand of your advertiser and to your own brand."

My thoughts exactly. Treat your audience like they’re adults and didn't just come out the Christmas cracker yesterday and they’ll be OK with some ad-supported content. 

But what about the ‘slippery slope argument’. The slippery slope argument comes from editors and usually goes along the lines of ‘if I drive a Toyota up a ski field and write a blog post about it then next week I will have to run streaming propaganda for the war in Gaza because that’s how North Korea works. It’s a slippery slope’. 

I know that’s a big separate discussion but at the heart of it I would say perhaps it’s time for journalists and editors to also be adults and take responsibility for their decision making.  The days of kidding yourself that “I don’t work for News Corp, I work for The Daily Telegraph” are over and trying to pretend that you aren’t part of the machine like everyone else…well come on.  The challenges of the media industry impact everyone and trying to cling to some romantic notion of eighties journalism is what’s causing all the pain in suffering in today’s traditional media companies where employee satisfaction ratings sit around 22-35%.  It’s not the war in Gaza but good grief I’d be gratefully taking the keys to that Toyota and getting my branded content on. 

The Huffington Post Australia plans to launch in the first quarter of 2015 and let’s hope it’s a shining light of new media that will inspire Australia and New Zealand media companies to face the realities that yes print is lovely but no, it doesn't make money anymore so let's go drive a Toyota around a ski field so that your colleagues will have a job that they actually like going to next year and if you don't want to write crappy '23 reasons' blog posts then don't write them. 

Ad agencies shocked to discover Facebook is a media company like the other media companies

One of my favourite Twitter accounts (their blog is also pretty rad) Arena Flowers covered it pretty well in their tweet: did you seriously think that tricking people into telling your their favourite colour/flavour/character/cheese was going to last forever and make your brand amazing and profitable while companies like Proctor and Gamble and Coke spend billions of dollars a year on paid?

Ad agencies shocked to discover Facebook is a media company like the other media companies?
Advertiser shocking realisation -you have to pay money to access quality audiences?
Customers just really like Facebook and Facebook knows this so that’s why you have to pay money to go there just like you have to pay money to advertise on TV for the SuperBowl?

Any other alternative headlines for the ground breaking 'Facebook Zero' data presentation from Ogilvy 360?

Snark aside, you guys knew this already right?

Make really awesome content like the Muppets/ Toyota video I watched yesterday and shared. If you can't really do that then pay some money for Facebook ads. Don’t waste too much time trying to ‘game’ the system for organic with junk updates because you’ve already learned that from your Google content experiments right? 

I've banged on for a while about choosing channels that make sense for your audiences and not falling in love with specific apps -remember MySpace? Create quality content and talk to your audiences like they are actually people. Give them things that are valuable and be realistic about reach and conversion rates. 2-4% conversion rates are not 'Facebook zero' they are numbers consistent with other online channels like email and seem more sustainable to me. Pay to play? You guys know this already. 

Go forth and make money Facebook. Good for you. 

Scaling agile for social media marketing

I’m just having a quick look at this info from Spotify and thought I’d post it up-mainly so I remember where I’ve put it. I think marketing has to really rethink how we are structuring and managing workflows. Mainly due to our dependence on agency and TV as the driver of activity. 

We need to learn from other industries and functions so that things can be sped up and made more agile for real-time communications. It’s probably the test and revise part where we need to improve the most and waiting 12 months for an agency 360 campaign review is no longer practical. Retail, CPG and media industries have historically been very good at delivery to deadlines so I don't think it’s a matter of dropping everything and thinking software development has all the answers but around areas like legal sign off and A/B campaign testing, there is certainly room for improvement. 

Anyway, have a look through the Spotify resources. Another good resource is a book by the founders of Flight Centre who also took to the tribal organisational designs. I read it a few years back now and I think Vodafone tried to adopt some of their approaches as well? Can’t remember. Anyway. Another nice example of 'here's how we do it' content: whitepaper and infographic for your pleasure. 


Skroo the Rules - Flight Centre Ltd by Darryl Blake ISBN 9781863503471 / 1863503471
How do we structure our communication agency partnerships for social?
Here’s how we do it

Gateways and how audiences discover news online

I get a bit stabby seeing 'blogging' and 'social media' treated as two separate things in research (I've always considered blogging the cornerstone of any social strategy)  but I've just seen something in the latest Reuters data that has made me concede that the distinction can be kind of useful in a publishing context. 

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2013 'Tracking the Future of News' has some interesting analysis on gateways and how audiences discover news online.  

"Although in many countries audiences place the highest trust on online news from familiar providers, they are using an increasingly varied set of ways to find that content. Google, Facebook, and Apple have become – to a greater or lesser extent – intermediaries for a large proportion of news journeys online. As a result, they have been able to take a significant share of the available advertising revenue around news, making the funding of trusted content arguably more uncertain. Our data show brand, search, and social media the most important discovery mechanisms, with search particularly important in European countries like France and Germany." 

The table shows social sites playing a much greater role in news discovery than blogs and performing at levels competitive with branded news sites.  Social as a gateway to audiences and thus, how news is paid for, should give publishers insight into how editorial resource is allocated for marketing news brands such as personal branding of journalists on social sites.  

I know the concept of personal branding leaves many editorial types a bit cold but if you look through the 'how digital news if paid for' sections of the report and the analysis on page 89 -the commercial reality is laid out clearly. Most large news brands are only generating 15-25% of their revenues from digital so getting teams aligned around the success of the branded sites benefits all parts of the business. 

A full version of the Reuters report is below:

Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2012-2016

PWC are predicting a moderate, 5.3 % growth in the global advertising industry today with the release of their 2015 outlook. 

The global advertising market is expected to grow from $434 billion in 2010 to $588 billion in 2015, increasing on average by 6.2 percent per annum (2011-2015). 

The correction is welcome after the hard trading of 2008-09.  

The PWC segment categories are a little confusing with digital and social grouped into the generic category of 'internet' which doesn't provide a lot of insight; focusing on the channel rather than the device. 

The Forbes VSS Industry Forecast 2011-2015 predicts 5.7% growth with consumer internet and mobile fueling spend at 18.1%. PWC predicts around half this at 9.6%. 

The PWC newspaper growth rates between 1.0 and 2.5% seem optimistic considering the revenue drags experienced throughout the US and major restructure announcements in the Australian industry. The Forbes VSS Industry Forecast 2011-2015 predicts a global decline of 3.8% which seems more realistic. 

Static numbers in outdoor and trade media support the theory that digital will continue to extend the media mix rather than cannabalise it-encouraging news for both media companies and agencies. 

The challenge now is for the media companies to redesign their organisations as quickly and painlessly as possible so they can deliver advertising products that work. Traditional revenues are still well behind what's needed to transition to digital and the people managing the heavily siloed structures are not designing products that reflect consumer media consumption. 

How fast newer players such as Google, Facebook and Twitter can design and sell ad products that will compete for significant amounts of spend (10%+) still remains uncertain.