The one book you need to understand how TV actually works

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

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

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

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

So what's the book?

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

Kerry Packer Melbourne Cricket Ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Structuring enterprise social content teams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personalising customer care when you have a bit of a fail

It’s Māori language week so I’ll give you a personalisation lesson and a Māori language lesson at the same time. 

So once I got in trouble for writing kūmaras on a big in-store sign retail hanging aisle banner thing. It’s a tricky word because kumera is also correct and you often see it spelt incorrectly as kumura and nobody really knows what Ipomoea batatas -sweet potato is. 

 “Peel kūmaras …”

That’s what it said and a woman called the call centre and complained that she was going to take the company to the Māori language commission for hate crime against her language. After going through about three tiers of call centre staff, she was put through to me in marketing which was a bit of a fluke because as it turned out, it was my fault. 

The woman launched about the deep offence it had caused her and that companies like mine deserved to be taken to account for colonial imperialism something and lack of respect for something else and we needed to be held to account for our ignorance and oh dear it was getting very serious. 

You see the plural of kūmara is kūmara and I had butchered the word by adding the English -s ,and, as an official language of New Zealand it deserved to be written correctly and not anglicised. The Māori language has no ’s’. She had a point. 

“Yeah that was me. I actually knew that one... ‘kumaras’ — wow that is a shocker. Sorry about that.”

The woman stopped her download and started laughing. She actually started laughing. 

“That was you!? Do you write the recipes? Look, it’s not a big deal it’s just that I’m a Māori language teacher and I hate seeing people learn the wrong way in public spaces. That’s a really common one.”

We had gone from letters to the editor and formal government office complaints to laughing at the ‘kumaras’ because I was a person who made a mistake and not a giant retail brand with no respect for te reo Māori. 

We talk a lot about personalisation from an ad serving or search point of view but don’t lose sight of what it can do for you from a communications point of view. That same conversation could equally have happened on Facebook, Twitter, or a company forum. Getting your real people to explain (or say sorry) can make a big difference and customers will be a lot more understanding if they can see that you are human like them. 

“Peel kūmara …”

So there it is, no ’s’ in Māori.

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. 

Why can I not find anything on Facebook?

alt title: 
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. 

Social and search lead US Top 15 Smartphone Apps list

Of all the millions of iOS and Android mobile apps that US humans could possibly want to choose with their own freewill to put on their mobile phone communications device that number one app is -- Facebook.  Just stop and have a little think about that. People have Facebook in their pocket. Now scroll down the list of the other 14 apps on the list. What do you see? A lot of Google. So search. Search and social. Instagram, Twitter. Social. Maps and discovery. Music and entertainment, YouTube, Pandora. Plus the amazing Yahoo weather app that you should have on your phone just for looking at the tiny windmills on because it's really pretty. Information. 

Search, social and mobile are all great little friends from a customer perspective, it's just the companies that haven't quite figured out how to make money off all this new behaviour so keep that in mind when you get a bit gimmicked out with omni-channel social contextual programmatic realtime demand bidding. The customers are there and they are active. Figuring out how to get the best information to them and how to do something useful with all the search and social signals is the challenging part. 

Facebook ranked as the top smartphone app, reaching 75 percent of the app audience, followed by Google Play (51.8 percent), Google Search (49 percent) and YouTube (48.8 percent) Comscore May 2014

Faces and names matter for your Google search results

Updated March 14 2014: Matt Cutts confirms there is a type of author rank in use at Google

I've just been flicking back and forward to the search live blog: Google’s Amit Singhal At SMX West 2014 and just noticed something that I need to update and you might find useful. 

In the update part - in November 2012 I wrote that Twitter will help your search rankings. It did then and it doesn't now so just be aware of that (this Hootsuite -Game of Thrones infographic provides the best explanation-oops only took me a year to update). 

In the hmmm that's interesting part, we can see more humanising of content and search requests (is that a word?) to natural language and voice recognition, voice activated search in Google Now and all that cool mobile stuff. 

Figuring out who the author of content is important for establishing relevance and authority so even more reason to get your people online and contributing quality content with their own names and beautiful smiley faces. Even fugly frowny faces will suffice. Who says something online matters and creates opportunities for agile brands to take ownership of conversations by putting their clever humans out the front on topics. For example, I've recently watched Bill Cunningham New York and it's really great and you should watch it. While journalists around the world are wringing their hands about the demise of the print industry and the great injustices of centralised newsrooms, 80 year old Bill is still the voice, or eye, of authority on fashion. One scene from the movie showed him trying to get into a Paris fashion show and a girl on the door checking him for credentials and generally not bothering with the old fella in the shabby blue coat. A designer swooped out to grab Bill and said to the girl in French 'this is the most important person in the world'.  Bill Cunningham at the New York times is an author and authority on fashion and what he says, especially on topics like hats and shoes, matters more than what other people say. Just to be clear that there is no author rank at the moment but you can sort of see the problem that Google is trying to solve. 

Amit Singhal explains to Danny Sullivan:

DS: Google was built on an analysis of links. Seems like the rules are more complicated now about what gets counted. Do links still work as a ranking signal?

AS: Links are clearly an important signal about the importance of your content. They’re still very valuable. At the end of the day, we take a holistic look at the value of your site. We’re looking to build algorithms that give users what they want.

DS: Let’s talk about social signals. You’re not using any social signals from Twitter or Facebook, right? If something gets a lot of tweets, it doesn’t matter?

AS: That’s right, we’re not using those right now. We don’t have access to the Twitter data, so you can imagine how hard it would be to build a system that relies on those signals.

DS: You do have access to Google+, but you’re not using that for impacting the unpersonalized results?

AS: Right. We think about it from a user’s perspective. They’re looking for high quality content generated by reputed people. We have the authorship program that allows that to happen. They’re also looking for content from people they know, and we have the personalized results for that.

DS: Why don’t you use more signals from Google+?

AS: We have found that use of social signals in personalized mode is far more positive than using in non-personal results?

DS: Are there other things you would look at to determine a page’s relevance?

AS: (points at Danny) What do you find valuable as a user. We look at it as a human problem. What is relevance? What is high quality? And you figure out what signals produce relevant and high-quality signals.

DS: On authorship, there is no author rank, but could that become a signal?

AS: Possibly it could.

Most effective Facebook tactics for marketers

ExactTarget have just released their latest report detailing marketers’ top objectives for audience growth across email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and mobile apps. 

The 'Subscribers, Fans and Followers' report breaks down tactics most effective and is worth a look for ideas on new ways you could be using channels and to refresh your online publishing. It’s easy to get stuck doing the same things so mixing it up and trying some new approaches might assist you to get more cut through as the volume of activity builds through Christmas.

I’ve just pulled out the Facebook tactic graph as I thought it shows some interesting ‘quick wins’ that you can take with your brand. The chart shows use versus perceived effectiveness (note-perceived not measured). 

For example, ‘Publicly answering customer service questions on Facebook’ shows 34% of marketers using but 69% of those who have used it, deeming it effective. Could this mean that your Facebook channel is too broadcast and not driving enough engagement? Of course, you need to make strategic decisions around which channels you will support for customer care resource but perhaps you could take some frequently asked questions out of your support forums and proactively drive conversations on Facebook?

'Work with influencers/bloggers to promote Facebook Page’ is another area which should be getting more traction, especially if you are using external public relations companies to assist with media and influence. The numbers look similar into Twitter tactics on page 18 of the report. ‘Work with influencers/bloggers to promote Twitter’ only shows 28% use which surprised me. Is marketing briefing the on-account team to tag and identify influencers and collect information about their blogs and topics they are conversant on? Are your public relations team still only contacting traditional media and not capturing community influencers through press releases and offline events? Are they commenting on blogs and other people’s pages and social links or just sending batch emails and expecting favourable brand engagement?

Have a look through and see how it compares to the strategies and tactics you are using to grow and transact through quality audiences on and offline. 

Full report

Top social media sites in Southeast Asia 2013

After Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr are the most popular. YouTube ranked as the top Entertainment website in each of the Southeast Asian markets. More than 40 percent of global internet users are now based in Asia Pacific with an audience of 644 million. Southeast Asian markets account for approximately 10 percent of the Asia Pacific internet population.With 16.1 million monthly internet users, Vietnam now has the largest online population in Southeast Asia.


Social Media Statistics Australia – September 2013
Twitter's Top 5 Accounts Are All In Japan

The State of Social Business 2013: Make It Scale

For fun and amusement, sit down and architect the social system for your organisation with 20 or 40 dedicated social headcount. Go on. What would and wouldn't work? What skill sets would you need? What systems, process, policies and training would you need? What would your social dream team look like?

The latest Altimeter research concludes that 'only 17% of organisations are truly strategic in the execution of their social strategies' and highlights that while we have made good progress, it is still early days. I always try to get organisations to 'map channels and not apps'. That means forget about Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and LinkedIn and all that for now. Just think about communication and transaction channels in and out of your organisation and then you can put an app overlay on it. Removing the apps removes the app bias and ensures that people aren't making channels choices based on their preference as a consumer. 

Thinking in terms of headcount takes your brain out of the 'John looks after social' mindset and forces a systems approach. We saw this trend in the early days of company websites with the one 'webmaster' valiantly commanding online efforts and assuring the business that everything was sailing along fine thank you very much and there was no need to change anything, let alone scale things up for growth and new technologies. It's very important in terms of both the company (and your own personal career development-ahem social media managers I'm looking at you) that you are thinking in terms of scalable systems and processes, not just 'John looks after social' or 'I look after social and the place would fall apart without me'. 

The US headcount numbers from the report will probably shock most people in the Asia Pacific region, 'companies with more than 100,000 employees, which now report an average of 49 full-time employees (FTEs) supporting social media in the organization, compared to 20 in 2010'. How would that work at your place?

Altimeter have consistently set the standard in open social research and can I please (please, please, please, beg, grovel) encourage all of you working in enterprise and government social to spend some time in their resources and start sketching up your own social channel models. You don't have to implement them for now, just plant the seeds and notice how it impacts on the way you work and plan for true enterprise social. 

Highlights of Findings

In terms of social business maturity, most organizations are “intermediate,” with only 17% who are truly strategic in the execution of their social strategies.

The lack of clear leadership, organization, and strategy means that many organizations experience some form of “social anarchy,” of siloed, uncoordinated social efforts.

More companies are moving to the Multiple Hub and Spoke model to organize their social business programs, up from 18% in 2010 using this model to 23.6% in 2013.

Most dedicated social media teams continue to report to Marketing (40%) or Corporate Communications/PR (26%). But now, 13 different departments around the organization are seeing dedicated staff work on social initiatives. 

Companies are committing more headcount to social media across all sizes of companies. The biggest jump is for companies with more than 100,000 employees, which now report an average of 49 full-time employees (FTEs) supporting social media in the organization, compared to 20 in 2010.

Top priorities for social include scaling for engagement, integrating data, and training/ education around social.

Measuring the impact of social is maturing, with over half of organizations able to track the impact of social on marketing efforts.

Lack of employee training around social media policies remains a significant risk area — only 18% of companies said that their employees have a good or very good understanding of their social media policies.

Full report