How to make your landing page videos work on mobile

I’ve been trying to pay more attention to page speed and figuring out how things load on and that sort of thing lately. Generally, I haven’t bothered too much because I like simple things and work a lot on mobile so I just figured if I can upload something on a 3G connection, then someone else can probably download it. The more I've started learning, the more I realise that's not true and there's a bit more to it but there's one fashionable marketing technique that I would like to see killed with fire and possibly bees so long as the bees don't get burned in the fire because we need them to pollinate things. 

What gets me with a lot of brand work though (UX and marketing designers I’m looking at you) is that the high temple of page load fastness seems to go out the window when it comes to video. While the designers wail at me wanting to put an analytics tracking code into the page, dumping a hipster Vimeo player with a giant HD video file in there is no problem at all because… pretty. Look we all love Jony Ive and the Apple things but group-think generic stripping and bleaching out of everything doesn't make you a better designer. The genius of Apple design is understanding the user in context which is generally not a giant white room with mega screens and super fast internet connections.

Jony RU OK M8?
For example, a typical call to action from an email or social media lead generation card will send the user to a landing page with a snappy campaign headline and a button to start a free trial. All the elements are super well designed and fast and that’s all lovely. Then, a massive video player gets dumped in the middle of the page. 

As much as this Dropbox landing page looks nice there are three things you might want to thing about:

1. I have to play the video to find out what your new app or feature does. If I’m on mobile, I may not want to play the video yet or at all because I’m on a slow connection or just tapping away on a train. Please just explain to me in a couple of text bullet points what your new feature or app does. Note I said text, not a massive image to hold your text. Most people have never heard of your app or service. 

2. It’s the attention economy and you haven’t earned enough of my attention yet to justify a 90-second walk through video or customer story. I see this with a lot of smaller apps where they might get a shout out at a conference or a startup demo. You might want me to download or trial your product and I’m OK with giving you an email address for that. Getting my email address should be the priority and not video plays. I’m more likely to see you app mentioned again in my email and then you can use my lead for follow up emails and conversion. Send me the video link then if you want. 

3. If your video is cranked up to ridiculous-HD and I can’t turn it down this makes me sad. I generally run video on the lowest setting available because I want it to go fast. Sometimes I just want to hear the audio running and tab away until you say something interesting I need to see. For example, if I’m watching a Google Hangout, I turn it to the lowest quality (fastest speed) and leave it playing like a podcast and tab back. I do the same with livestreams and webcasts so I can do other things while the stream is running. In this scenario, when you app gets mentioned, directing me to a landing page with another video doesn’t really work. If your video keeps stuttering and buffering then obviously I’m going to click away, the same as for a slow web page. Make sure your player has quality settings that can be adjusted and remember that not everyone is sitting on a giant screen plugged into a satellite dish. 

I would much rather go for something like Dollar Shave Club as it contains more information. Even if I don’t watch the video, I can see what the product or service does, benefits and key features, pricing indication and customer testimonial. The Do It button provides a call to action and turns me from a window shopper into a paying customer or in a very least, a warm lead. 

Also, have a look at Facebook and Twitter lead generation cards and how much faster they can do the same job with simple elements on mobile

Designers probably spill their organic tea with horror at the thought but the landing page has a job to do, it’s not just there to look pretty and provide a backdrop for a cool video that I'll never watch on mobile. 

Robots! Self driving cars! 3D makeup! New Zealand Women in Innovation Summit

“Peter said he was going to do this thing called Lord of the Rings and they were going to need a thousand or so animators, maybe more.”

Nobody really believed him (except maybe people like Frances Valintine who went on to start the Media Design School where I first learned about database applications and code), and if they did, how could we translate that into training and jobs for people?

Frances set the scene for the Inaugural Women In innovation Summit when she opened with her Peter Jackson story: we need to predict and train for future roles not current ones and we aren’t doing very well at it. On Tuesday, I was fortunate to participate in the Inaugural Women in Innovation Summit in Auckland. Hosted by The National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women, (NACEW) is an advisory body to the Ministry of Women's Affairs. The event was at MindLab by Unitec, a new specialist education lab in Auckland.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Hon Jo Goodhew terrified us all with news that the top job choices for girls leaving school in the 1970s hasn’t really changed: flight attendants, hairdressers, nurses, office workers, teachers and vet nurses still dominate the lists. Lawyers got a bump with LA Law and all the crime stuff on TV like CSI but not a sausage for computer science or the other STEM fields (ok- some CSI and medicine from ER but not a big movement). 

So what are we going to do about it?

Equipped with flip charts, marker pens and coffee, we set out to fix things by identifying what practical things could be done to promote opportunities and remove barriers for women aka half the population in employment.  I have to admit, the government talk-fest alarms started to go off in me at this point but I figure it has to be more constructive than the people who moan in the news about people from overseas ‘stealing’ all the jobs at Weta Workshop, PETER TOLD YOU THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. 

The usual stuff came up, (I did my Masters thesis on this womansy career stuff so I won’t bore you with all that) but what was a real stand out for me was having actual kids in classes next to us building remote controlled cars and robots. I guess my focus had always been tertiary education and career paths rather than simply that little girls aren’t encouraged into non-traditional roles and that at some weird level, computers and engineering technologies are still seen as a boys thing. When you see a class of kids putting little circle wheels on big rectangle car bodies and making it go zoom zoom, you realise how silly yet entrenched that idea is. 

We also had high school kids in our work groups who could confirm or deny the effectiveness of government programmes to improve technology education, and of course contribute the best ideas that nobody else thought of. Some kids still don’t have a computer at home so partnerships with companies like Google and Microsoft to lease hardware were a big winner. One of the girls I spoke with had a net book her family paid about $3 a week for and she said it made a big difference to her skills and enthusiasm for computing and those of her siblings and parents. WIN

Primary kids coming to after school programmes at the MindLab to learn technology were still 80% boys. Parents dropped the boys off to play robots and took the girls shopping- it still wasn’t really thought that little five year old girls could be interested in building robots. This thinking was confirmed by one of the woman at my table who shared her story about her high school daughter’s careers day. The parent with the most interest worked at the Estee Lauder counter at a department store and the girls thought that would be a great job because you get free makeup samples. And yes, this was one of those horrible-amounts-of-money-per-semester private schools in Auckland. FAIL

Quality of teaching and curriculum was a big topic and not something I know a lot about but you could see clear links between stand out schools that were producing strong results in STEM subjects and the quality of the teachers, through to individual teachers who made learning more engaging and fun for the kids. 

There was a bit of traditional university bashing which I wasn’t too keen on (mainly because universities are an area that women do really well in so why mess with something that works and is a strong on-ramp for women in the workforce?) although I do agree that subject choice and mix of skills needs to change. After hanging out with the primary and secondary school kids I can see that those choices have to start younger than tertiary level. It’s a bit chicken and egg (my mum is a hairdresser and my Dad a blue collar electrician-both left school at age 14) so visibility and role models for me to make tertiary choices mainly came outside the home and much later on. It’s not hard to see how TV shows and familiar environments like retail paint pictures of a future kids can see and understand. How do we paint them new pictures that aren’t from their 1970s parent’s world?

I think it's why I’m so positive about technologies like social media and web video communities for kids because it introduces them to environments outside their family life. Although there are a few weirdos out there and you have to be careful about that, allowing kids to participate in online communities might let them find avenues that they are really interested in and help them to think a bit bigger- the girl who 3D printed makeup at Harvard for instance. 

Does your daughter like iPads? Great, she's into computers, take her to a computer club and you can go shopping on the way home. Does she like colouring? Let her digital paint and paper paint so she can run some film units at Weta. Then we ate some brownies and drank some coffee and moved around the yellow tables so we could meet all the people who were there, which was really great. And then the little kids who were there with their school group got into a line and held hands and did a walking bus back to their school and we clapped and went “awwwww cuuute” and it just proved that girls can be little girls and still make awesome robots given a bit of encouragement and adults who can help equip and connect the dots for them. 

Why marketers need to learn about cloud computing

Once a man with a fat stomach and impressive beard told me that one day, the Microsoft Word application I was using to write my uni essay with would be delivered as a hosted application over the internet. 

“The application won’t be installed on your computer. It will run on a big server somewhere and you will be able to do all the same things through Netscape Navigator.” Wow. 

That was hard to imagine in a dial-up world and while the streaming comets of Netscape Navigator may no longer be with us, 15 years on we’re still trying to get our head around this cloud computing business. 

I’ve spent a lot of time in conferences and reading whitepapers about this stuff in recent times and while my level of bamboozlement is going down slowly- there is still bamboozlement. As soon as you think 'yes I am very smart and I'm all over it' you'll wander into a nerd analyst corner and realise you have no idea what any of them are saying. 

It’s super important that marketers learn as much as they can about cloud computing because, as we’ve discussed before, many of the practical applications of big data require new tools and processes, so you’ll need to make informed choices about the best way to approach things.  I’ve found the best way is just to let things wash over you as much as possible and don’t worry too much about what you don’t know. 

For example, you’ll see reports talking about SaaS and PaaS and IaaS and be all:

But just scribble that down to go and find out later and you’ll figure it out. For me, making the comparison with electricity really helps. So when I think about IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) I think about big power grids delivering electricity to my house. Those are the data centres that you’ll hear people talking about.  My blog Posthaven is hosted on Amazon Web Services so the developer Garry Tan at Y Combinator, pays Amazon Web Services a monthly amount for the infrastructure of hosting the Posthaven application in a data centre. I pay for the software (Software as a Service) $5 a month to Posthaven. It starts to make sense. 

Facebook is currently trying to convince everyone that their web-based application (SaaS) Facebook.com is actually a PaaS (platform as a service) so that more people will build applications that run on Facebook like payments and games apps. The new Facebook tagline has changed from ‘move fast and break things’ to ‘move fast with stable infra’ - a clear nod to the IaaS big power grids part of the equation. A lot of other companies like Salesforce are pushing hard on this ‘we are a platform’ message so you’ll hear a lot more about that with sensors and connected devices that ‘talk’ to the platform. 

Discussions often switch around between SaaS and PaaS and IaaS which can make it confusing. For example, in the Gartner 'Magic Quadrant for Cloud Computing" doc I’ve just been reading it says:

“When people think about "cloud computing," cloud IaaS is often one of the first things that comes to mind. It's the "computing" in cloud computing — on-demand compute, storage and network resources, delivered on-demand, in near-real-time, as a service.”

I think from a marketing and communications point of view, we probably think about SaaS first -I can access twitter.com as a web-hosted application through the browser or I can install a client on my computer or mobile phone like TweetBot. Just me?  So when you go to a cloud computing presentation from a retail bank the CTO might stand up and talk about private, public and hybrid cloud with a focus on security. Then, you go to a startup session and people are talking about users moving to the cloud and being able to access information in realtime.  It’s quite a different thing so try and get that clear in your head at the start—what are they talking about and how are they approaching this? Are they talking about me paying a monthly fee to turn on the switch and get electricity to my house or are they talking about what type of pylons are the best to deliver the electricity to the houses?

If that’s still a bit confusing the main question I often have to stop and ask people is “hang on, are we talking about hardware or software?” (which sounds like a really simple question but you’ll be surprised how many people can’t actually answer that very well-especially when you're talking about hybrid cloud) and try and strip it back to basics. Is this an application that runs on Facebook? Can it run as a stand-alone? What's the difference between the web-based app and the mobile app? You’ll get answers like ‘we offer a complete, end-to-end solution’ which is nice but doesn’t help your understanding so don’t be afraid to ask derp questions because there’s a lot of new things happening all the time. Whatever you do, don’t think that cloud computing is an IT thing and ‘we have men with impressive beards who do that' because the more you can understand the better. It would also help if said nerds took the time to learn more about marketing and then you would all win the future in a spirit of understanding and mutual smartyness but that’s probably another post ;)

image credit Allie Brosh

How to teach girls how to code in the real world

Girls should be really good at coding.I’m quite convinced of this, even though I’m not really good at it myself and I just want to share a little something from my experience in the hope that it will help the teaching and learning part. 

I went and did a course with some database stuff about 12 years ago -MS SQLServer and ASP was my starting point-and I really struggled. The database design stuff was fine and I got how that worked. Even some of the forms we made and basic javascript form validation and HTML, that was OK. But all this declaring variables and ‘if, then’ functions business made absolutely no sense to me at all. 

Parking me at a computer with one of those big red phone books with the black and white cover and the red letters was not the way to teach me and it wasn’t until I had a go at building something myself, that I figured out how to connect a database and make a cart that worked and did some basic things.

And before you say that I’m kinetic, or not a classroom learner, that’s not true because I’ve been tested for all that. According to my friend’s PhD research, I’m exactly 50/50 audio/visual which is bang on for most classical classroom and lecture style learning. So the person standing up the front with Powerpoint preso in a lecture or a conference is perfect for me. 

What I needed was real world context. Yes, more audio and visual probably would have helped but I think we have to be careful about thinking that girls need floaty pretty pictures and boys can handle linear, gritty mechanical things. Context is the ‘why’ and this is the main thing I was missing.  I had no context and no idea of what I was trying to make, or even really do.  Context is really important to how I learn. If I get the business case up front, then I can move back and bolt something together (see what I did there). Going the other way and declaring things and passing things around in abstract form was a complete riddle to me. 

It’s the same reason (and a big of odd self diagnosis here) that I was pretty good at algebra and crap at calculus. Algebra is often taught in word problems and solve for x. If three apples and two oranges cost $4 sort of thing- I can picture the apples and the oranges and get why you would want to figure that out. Going straight to 3x and 2y and then getting to the end of the course and saying ‘so you can work out how many apples and oranges you can buy at the supermarket’ doesn’t work so well for me. 

I’ll give you another example. I was watching two young girls -about 8 and 10 at a guess, playing in a hotel reception. They were playing check-ins with one playing the guest and the other one writing down all the details on a real, paper hotel check-in form.  I looked at the form afterwards and was surprised how well she had done at capturing all the correct information. She had put in variables for car parking, the three dogs that were also coming to dinner and their meal requirements (!) and all the customer information like name, address and email. It was clear that the girls had a good understanding of the business case for capturing customer hotel information on a form. 

It wouldn’t be a stretch to then take the paper form and say:

‘how do we make it so when Mrs.Dinglebatt comes next time with her three dogs, she doesn’t have to fill the form in again?’

‘Mrs. Dinglebatt left her mobile phone charger in the room. How do we get her contact information so we can email and tell her we have it?’

’when Mrs. Dinglebatt’s dogs order room service- how do we make sure it gets charged to the bill so she can pay at the end?’

I think the girls would have got it, especially if they could see the process end to end with the reception person calling up information on a computer. Minecraft and other games are pretty great too, but I think we shouldn’t be afraid to use real-world problems and everyday situations to teach girls how to code in context because I think that could really help the little girls playing hotels to make the next AirBNB or Paypal. 

If I were 22: my advice for living so far...

I’ve read a couple of the ‘if I were 22’ posts on LinkedIn and had a go at writing mine last night. It got to about 12.40am so I was falling asleep and it’s a bit rambly but here’s mine:

1. Seek Truth and Wisdom above everything else

Truth is a painful thing and a freeing thing. Sometimes Truth will reveal that you were being a bit of a jerk. Sometime Truth will reveal that you’ve got a long way to go and things might be harder than you thought. Sometimes Truth will reveal that your boyfriend’s new startup is actually another girl that he is starting up a relationship with. Truth breaks things but it also fixes things and it makes you a better and wiser human. Seek Truth in all situations and you’ll grow in Wisdom and discernment. You’ll make better, more long-term decisions and have more peace in your life. 

2. You’re doing better than you think you are

I look at photos of myself from that time and think ‘wow I looked really good- and I thought I was fat and ugly’. I went to China by myself and wandered around freely with no concerns for my personal safety or finances or anything other than thinking I’d like to go to China and now I am here. 

3. I’m going to have to disagree with Guy Kawasaki's 22 year old self advice —you aren’t there to make your boss look good

A very wise internal recruiter in retail once told me she pays no attention to personal references from managers. She said ‘if the person is good, they don’t want them to leave so they’ll downplay options for promotion. If the person is terrible, they want to get rid of them. If the person is a star, the manager can be jealous and hyper critical.'

Let your light shine before men and all of that so that you both look good-for sure. The better everyone in the team performs then everyone looks good (also pondering if 'looking good in itself is not a very good outcome?). But I have seen people waste their lives in an unhealthy lap-dog, faux loyalty, relationship with managers and leaders. Rate yourself and don’t let someone else decide your path for you, they may not have your best interests at heart. Get advice from trusted, independent sources about your career, preferably someone outside your organisation. Managers can be a dice roll and don't expect too much, they're human like you. 

4. Don’t make decisions based on stuff

I’ve seen people turn down opportunities because they would have to put their new fridge and washing machine into storage. What the hell? I had to move out of an apartment once and I was rushing to get everything packed and moved and find a new place and still go to work. I remember standing in the living room and thinking ‘I actually don’t even really like any of this stuff. That coffee table is ugly. Someone gave me that lamp because they were moving overseas. None of my cups match. Why am I dragging this crap around?”

So I rang the Salvation Army and said ‘come and take everything’. I gave them the whole house lot and moved into a fully furnished place and it was amazing and freeing. From that day forth I’ve made much better decisions because I haven’t been encumbered with stuff. 

5. 28 isn’t a thing

I used to think (and I hear a lot of people at uni or in their 20s also talk like this) that I had to have everything by the time I was 28. 28 was the big year for everything. Marriage, job, no debt, travel. Everything had to be achieved before this big 28 deadline. 28 isn’t a thing. I had a house, serious marriage-material (so I thought -see point 1) boyfriend, dog and a company car and at about 23 and I was miserable because I hadn’t really lived yet. I had conformed to a narrative that wasn’t really me and it made my soul unhappy. The Truth set me free from that and it hurt like hell but it was better and I’m so grateful for it now. 

6. Think in terms of decades

Seed, time, and harvest. Sometimes you think that you’ve put down enough seed and you’d quite like the harvest part now thank you very much, but the time part is important. Patience grasshopper. Bill Gates describes his career in terms of ’in my 20s I did this, in my 30s I did this.’

Since I made an executive decision that 1. I will live to 120 years old 2. I will never retire, I’ve realised I have more decades to work with. Suddenly, the horribly expensive and difficult coding course I did in my 20s seems a good investment. The hundred of hours of my life I’ve dedicated to Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Robert Kiyosaki, Jack Welch [insert pop business motivational author] box sets and DVDs seems pretty excellent. My Nana is 92 and she told me she’s been on the pension for 32 years. Look after your health (physical, mental, and spiritual) and you’ll get lots more decades to work with. Keep putting down seed. 

7. Go to things by yourself

I remember once having expensive work tickets to a fancy theatre event and feeling all sorry for myself because I had nobody to go with. So (using the powers of pattern interruption gained through my motivational tape sets) I told myself ‘if the only reason you’re not going to go is because you have nobody to go with, that’s really stupid and that’s not a reason to not go.” I had one of the best nights I’d had in ages and met lots of amazing people and hung out with all the performers and went to the after-party. The ability to just turn up to things without needing anyone to hold your hand is one of the underestimated and incredible life skills. 

8. Go to the art gallery

Often when you want to buy things in shops, it's because you're seeking and trying to capture design and beauty. Save your money and go to the art gallery or to a beach or garden. 

9. Choose life over death

Choose light over dark. Choose cat videos over porn. Choose good over evil. Choose humans over machines. There is a lot of suffering in the world and the best way you can help others is to be an overcomer. Be a dreamer and a do-gooder. Be a Bono. Nothing good is achieved by being cynical and self-absorbed. Resist the very human urge to be a bit of a hater and surround yourself with people who want to make the world better. 

Why can I not find anything on Facebook?

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What Twitter is really good at: Pope stalking

The ability for users and advertisers to find things on social networks is pretty important and Facebook is terrible at it. I can never find things on Facebook which makes me question their advertising models and limits how I use them as part of brand communication. Let me show you an example. 

Last night, I saw a mainstream media org tweet this photo of Pope Francis at the separation wall dividing Israel from the West Bank and I thought 'wow something historically significant and awesome is happening and I want to see more'. 

Straight away I could go to Pope Francis' official page on Twitter and see what other organisations covering the visit were saying, plus the hashtag to follow. 

I wanted to share one of these images on my Facebook so I went to search for 'Pope Francis' and 'Pope Francis news'. 

Which one was his official page? None of them looked legit and I couldn’t see any up to date photos either from news orgs or private users. So I went to Google Plus. I could search for hashtag #PopeFrancis and find details of his tour from official news orgs like Al Jazeera. No images of the Pope at the wall there, or in Google News yet. No images from private users that I could find. 

So then I went to Tumblr. I could search for #PopeFrancis and find images taken earlier in the day I hadn’t seen yet of him at the River Jordan where Jesus was baptised. 

That’s pretty great, none of the wall images I was looking for yet but he did the river thing before the wall thing so I figured those were coming. I went to Instagram and couldn’t search on the desktop app so that was the end of that because I couldn’t be bothered looking for my phone.

Back to Twitter and then more images started streaming from the wall and the Bethlehem Mass. I wondered what Pope Francis was talking about to the large crowd? Again, Twitter had the answer Luke 2 1-14 children and the family live tweeted by news orgs and people in the crowd on the hashtag. Plus this great image with Jesus looking all 'listen to this guy about the peace and the unity please I've been talking about this for 2000 years... hey Jorge your hat is coming off' in the background. 

By then, the wall images that originally triggered my search were coming through on Tumblr. Still nothing I could find up to date or useable on Facebook.

Twitter is really, really good at news and real-time stalking of people whether they are Popes or Pope watchers in the crowd. The search has greatly improved and Facebook just can't keep up with this functionality for some reason (although in theory, it should be able to?). Tumblr search has improved a lot in the last 12 months even if the desktop page load lag is starting to get ridiculous- the mobile search is great. Every time I go through this little trying to follow news events on Facebook trick, it comes up really short (the royal baby name announcement was another one I couldn't seem to follow) and it makes me question how they are curating and measuring audiences for paid placement. I've said it before that both Google and Microsoft should never be underestimated in enterprise social, due to Microsoft's past (and arguably current) enterprise dominance, and Google's superior search skills. I can't ever seem to find anything on Facebook and if they want to compete on brand and news, they really need this part to work with Bing or whatever else they use. Twitter still wins at real-time. 

Why marketers need to take back control of their brands

I really like Tim Wilson’s analytics blog, mainly because he has a very real understanding of how the relationship between a marketer and marketing analyst works and also because we share the same dislike for creating scheduled reports for the sake of creating scheduled reports: that’s the giant Powerpoint presentation that arrives as an attachment in your email every week or month that you never open. There’s a lot on his site that you might like to browse through but I had an Oprah Winfrey shared feelings moment when I saw this conversation he posted in Why I don't put recommendations on dashboards:

Marketer: “This monthly dashboard is good. It’s showing me how we’re doing. But, it doesn’t include any insights based on the performance for the month. I need insights to take action!”

Analyst: “Well, what did you do differently this month from previous months?”

Marketer: “What do you mean?”

Analyst: “Did you make any changes to the site?”

Marketer: “Not really.”

Analyst: “Did you change your SEM investment or strategy?”

Marketer: “No.”

Analyst: “Did you launch any new campaigns?”

Marketer: “No.”

Analyst: “Were there any specific questions you were trying to answer about the site this month?”

Marketer: “No.”

Analyst: ???!

Over reliance on agencies and advisors has turned some marketers into mindless Lego people like Emmett Brickowski who are lovely and smart but just want someone to tell them exactly what to do. I used to think it was lazy but the truth is, with all the briefing and sign offs and agency meetings and everything else, you actually end up doing a lot more work to not really add much value to the brands that you are employed to grow and steward. You are the Master Builder and everything is definitely not awesome if you keep looking for someone to give you bulleted lists of instructions. It’s fear-based and terrible and makes me wonder why some people even bother turning up for work.

I think it’s fear of getting it wrong, not wanting to be accountable for a decision and a little bit of enjoying having other people bring you stuff you can wave your hand over as ‘look at all the work we’re doing’. I guess there is the resourcing argument (that’s another broader issue around marketers just using agencies for overflow grunt level resourcing-and more about how marketing departments are allocated and manage their budgets). Perhaps a little bit of recognising that the risk just isn’t there like it used to be and this has created bad habits. It’s now quite easy to turn on and off software products, take photos, shoot videos, make versions of ads and then dump them if it’s not going to work. If it does work, you can ramp up the production values, add more users, roll it out to more stores. 

I saw an example of this at a vendor conference recently where a Head of Digital for one of the biggest brands in Australia handed the keys of his presentation over to a third-party data agency analyst who presented on behalf of the brand. The project was to A/B test two ad formats on the company logout screen and make recommendations on the best ad format to use. I sat there thinking 1. great ad for the data agency I guess? 2. what a hugely longwinded and complicated way of trying to figure out something so simple and low risk. 

The big reveal at the end of the preso wowed us by showing that the rectangle one outperformed the square one on clicks three to one (performance) and…..HOW ABOUT USING THE RECTANGLE ONE ON YOUR LOGOUT SCREEN (insight) ..do you really need to pay someone to tell you that on your own, native site?

How about using your brain and coming up with some ideas and tactics and strategies for yourself? 

How do you expect to learn about new technologies and approaches if you won’t ever make decisions and implement anything? A lot of new media approaches are very difficult to explain on paper but make sense when people see it running so often it’s better to just get some examples up and running and work from there. Then, you can go back with the analysts and have a look. You are the Special*

Someone from the audience then asked what they planned to use the ad format for (their own House ads or partner ads or putting them into an ad network) and the Head of Digital person stood there looking blank and nodded to the agency analyst who said something about selling partner products for example if you’re a bank you might use your online banking logout screen ad to advertise travel insurance. 

Now that should have been the starting point from the marketer. Hypothesis that logout screen ads could be used to convert customers to buy partner products such as insurance, credit cards, investments. Develop a couple of ad formats , A/B test them and see if people click on them.  Do you really need a big data project for that? Is it going to cost you millions of dollars if you screw it up or result in the loss of life of innocent citizens of the earth? There a plenty of examples from both vendors and brands of companies doing this,why don’t you just copy them and you know, have a bit of a go? Get the agencies to do complex work for you and give your digital teams something useful and actionable to work on at their end. Your client-side digital teams will  probably enjoy having something real to work on and will learn a lot more in the process. 

It's up to you to set the direction for the brand and make things happen, not your agency and not your analysts. Once you realise you are The Special then everything will be much more awesome. 

*none of this will probably make any sense if you haven't see the Lego movie which is awesome and will make your life better

How to be brave like Hero Cat when everyone is shooting down your ideas

In the next couple of years, social and digital projects are going to attract more executive attention and I really want to see the people who have done all the work building communities and on the front line with customers, actually making decisions about data systems, strategy and team resourcing.  I know I’ve talked about this before, the move to a centralised demand way of thinking and building a team rather than having one or two hero cat social media managers.  The idea of a whole bunch of career IT people deciding which marketing systems marketers should be using doesn’t sound like a good idea to me and it’s really important that you get involved and contribute constructively and not pack a sad and lock everyone out with passwords because that would be passive aggressive and terrible.   

As a first step, you need to make an individual choice that scaling up is a good idea and that you want to be involved and you might hate some of the decisions and some of the direction but that it won’t kill you.  I know that some customer care and social media manager types don’t like the fact that I always point my strategies back to marketing as the lead but that’s how it will go. Any ‘big data’ you are collecting needs to be mined and campaigned and made sense of and those processes will take place in the marketing function so open wide and swallow that pill while you’re there. 

If you don’t want to make that decision, then hit the little X in the top right hand corner of this page and read no further, because I can’t help you. The industry is much bigger than any person or any company and the change will come regardless. 

OK, Monday morning and you have now decided that you are going to transform from hero cat social media manager to smarty brains delegating, team building future leader of the free world to talk about systems for managing social rather than you doing everything yourself.  You are going to educate and evangelise everyone about fantastic new marketing automation systems and analytics tools and write job ads for the web video person you are going to hire to make amazing how-to YouTube videos. Scale and systems and beautiful architecture. How exciting. 

Everything will go fantastic until... ZING, ouch! what the hell was that?! Someone you thought was previously allied to your intarwebs Digitisation Win All The Things Plan completely shoots down you ideas.  It might be something small like a snarky comment, calling your campaigns spam, fussing about production quality on the latest video or blog post, minimising your area of work ‘oh we don’t need to spend more time talking about Twitter and Facebook, we have important things to discuss’. 

It’s just a nip. It’s not a bite and you haven’t lost any blood -you’ll live. And if you can learn to tell the difference or in the very least, brainwash yourself into believing ‘it’s just a nip’ then you’ll be OK. 

What’s a nip?

I used to work with a guy called Ken and he was scared of dogs. He told me the reason he was scared of dogs was because his Dad was a police dog handler and when he was a kid the dog bit him. Well, his Dad said the dog actually nipped him and there was a difference. When his Dad came home from work, he would let his dog Sasha out of the police wagon and she would walk to her kennel out the back of the family house. Then, he would take all of her stuff like leads and bowls out of the wagon and throw it into her kennel and go inside for dinner. 

One day, Ken noticed that some of Sasha’s stuff was still in the back of the wagon so he picked up her lead and threw it into the kennel the same way that his Dad would. Sasha went for Ken and bit him on the side by his hip. After hearing the screams, his Dad came out and called the German Shepherd off. He looked at the mark and saw that ‘it was just a nip’, which didn't make it hurt any less but he explained to Ken that it was her way of showing authority and that she didn't take instruction from Ken. Sasha enjoyed her status as lieutenant to Ken’s Dad and, by throwing the lead into the kennel, Ken had unknowingly exhibited dominance behaviour. Sasha hadn’t meant to really harm Ken but she was sending a message (if you’ve ever been nipped by a german shepherd or other dog you’ll know that it feels like a bee sting) and her surprise ZING had achieved the desired result, Ken was scared and never went near her again. 

It’s taken me a long time and some good advice to understand that many of the times I've had unexpected reactions to ideas at work,  I was just being nipped and that it was probably more a sign that my idea was good rather than bad. It was probably me stomping around on topics and rituals that were sensitive and not being aware that I was throwing stuff into the kennel. Good ideas are far more likely to trigger nips than bad ones. Changing up your behaviour and learning how to lead and delegate will trigger nip reactions whether you really meant to or not (possibly the nippers don’t even know they’re doing it). It doesn’t mean it won’t startle you or hurt or catch you off guard but it’s important to realise that the feelings of eye-watering pain and injured pride are temporary and you’re probably on to something.  The skills that you’ve learned on the front line as social media hero cat should serve you very well so try to not get intimidated and frustrated (preaching to myself here) and be encouraged that if you go home with a few nip marks, you’re probably on the right track. 

How lack of digital disruption is killing our newsrooms

Here's the leaked New York Times Innovation report which Nieman Lab describes as 'one of the key documents of this media age'. Sadly I've seen too many of these reports and I think it's the obsession with report writing and talking about market disruption that's causing so many media companies to fail and wrecking a lot of people's careers in the process. 

Talking about disruption and doing disruption are two different things. 

Talk about disruption and everyone is a pioneer, a game-changer - we all want the new shiny one. Start to do disruption and, it’s disruptive and annoying.  A lot more like taking toys off people and telling them no, we’re not doing it that way anymore. And then people cry and argue and threaten to leave and question the authority of the toy-taker-offer. Does she know what she’s doing? Why does she get to take the toys away? I will need a report and some KPIs before you get to touch my toys. Even with the assurance that you’ll get new toys and they’ll be better, the intermediate actual disruptive change part creates uncertainty that The Future will actually be better. What if it’s not? Then nostalgia kicks in. It was better before. Remember when there were only 10 of us that worked here and how great that was. When we were younger in the old days and we would skip into work, with a song in our heart and it was all group hugs and laughter. Now the toy-taker-offer has arrived and ruined everything and is the walking personification that 1. it was better before 2. The Future won’t be better.  So the Leader hears the crys of the people and starts to lose his nerve. Maybe he made a wrong choice? (maybe The Future won’t be better?), why is there all this disruption? He retreats to plan B, the safer option, the weaker manager and the crying stops for a few months. Give the toys back to to the kids for now and slow down the change, it was too reckless and fast. And nothing changes. And that's why so many once-powerful media companies are sick and limping and have terrible company culture and weak managers. Because the people brave enough to take the toys away and actually generate real change keep getting shown the door.  That's why media companies are laying off staff and have missed The Future on so many products, because the urgency and decision making wasn't there to carry on with the first seven rounds of Digital First projects. If there's one thing we need at the moment it's strong, determined leaders who will make hard, often unpopular decisions to cut through the crying and get people through disruption. 

related: 
Times Ousts Jill Abramson as Executive Editor, Elevating Dean Baquet
What the New York Times Could Have Been

Confused pandas struggle with web analytics so please make it easier

Forrester released a report today about analytics and there’s a lot that I agree with and a lot that I don’t really agree with but there’s one thing that’s clear: the landscape has changed. What’s not clear is what the actual products do and I think tech vendors are going to have to do a lot of work to turn marketers, advertisers and publishers into real, hands-on users. There are many confused pandas in the wild. 

Remember when Adobe was the pretty/expensive one and IBM was the big ugly serious one and Google was the weird free one? Also wondering why Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud wasn’t mentioned as their analytics are probably sufficient for a lot of marketers who are currently using nothing at all -remember we’re working off a low base in a lot of marketing teams. No, I have no affiliation with Salesforce I just think the ExactTarget product is a good one. And Oracle. Where’s Oracle in the report? So defining enterprise web analytics in itself is still a bit of a head scratcher. I guess Forrester try and cover it with their “a significant base of enterprise-class clients” criterion but with the rate things are changing I don’t think historical client lists are going to count for much over the next three years. Or staff dedicated to web analytics products. Is that engineering or sales or support? 90-day free demo and a bit of Hadoop and look at that, you’ve changed data systems. 

It’s good that Adobe is in the number one position. Omniture Site Catalyst is the best analytics product on the market today and Adobe should be making a lot more of it. What? Well you see I have a real issue with your Marketing Cloud Adobe. It’s way too complicated. I think you probably already know this and I know you’ve had a few acquisitions and are trying to stitch is all together but good grief, nobody can remember the name of two cloud products let alone five.  Take Microsoft Office. I’ve been using it since the late 90’s and I can name Word and Excel… and then.. oh look I stopped caring. Make it easier for people Adobe and go hard on Omniture.  Start with the customers (i.e. advertisers, publishers and marketers) and work back based on what we can use it for, not all the standalone parts because nobody got time for that and your products are fantastic but it’s so hard to know what product does what. 

Ditto IBM. Lots of acquisitions and suites of brands and products that do various things that become a bit of a blur after the first 10 minutes of the demo. I’m sure it’s all fabulous but it’s hard to get your head around and way too hard for the new wave of customers such as brand marketers and journalists to find their way around. 

Hilariously, Google Analytics Premium gets the ‘simple and easy’ tag and the ‘democratise all the information’ tag which I think are probably the two most important things at the moment and they still didn’t get in the first pack of product leaders according to Forrester.  More weighting on these factors is needed because teams are growing so we need more people at various skill levels working on the data. Remember when you had one or two analyst nerds that ran reports and worked for the executive team the whole time and ignored your five ‘can you do a campaign summary pullleaaaasseeeee :) :):)?’ emails? That’s your current situation today? Yes. Simple and democratisation are important because you can outsource hyper analyst data nerdery for special projects but it’s great if more people can login and work with the data everyday. 

I don’t really know anything about Webtrends and SAP and SAS which in itself is a factor. If you want to sell to marketing people you need to get a bit better at marketing because we’re looking at different factors than maybe, a traditional CIO, CTO person. Engineers tut tut at me for liking Salesforce products because they maybe aren’t as well made as others (are they? I wouldn’t know) but they are good at sales and marketing and are getting better at wooing a marketing customer through education and training. Analytics and simple don’t really go together that well but whoever figures that part out will win all the analytics customers.