Monday, December 8, 2008

Online advertising speaks for itself

Last week Avenue ARazorfish (a leading digital marketing company) and Pluck (a leader in social media technology) announced that they will be developing and marketing technology that will allow advertisres to inject social media features such as customer comments and user generated content into mainstream digital advertisements.

It will be interesting to see how this new development plays out. Whilst blogs & review forums have long been catalysts for product and business changes in the commercial world, this new media technology will seemingly make consumer opinions be markedly more visible.

Will advertisers filter the user generated content within their ads to such a degree that its consumer appeal is diminished? Or, will advertisers embrace the comments warts and all to actually use this mechanic as a new form of research?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Communicating Communications

Congratulations to Sunday Life for covering a day in the life of a Strategic Planner in yesterday?s issue. I, like many who work in the communications industry, often find it difficult to explain what I do on a daily basis. My boyfriend thinks I do a lot of googling, my grandparents think that I make ads for fried chicken and my friends think I?m just privy to a lot of magazine launches.

?Consuming Passion? acted as a good advert for the industry and in particular, Saatchi & Saatchi. It explained well, what most of us strive to do on a daily basis ? ?to understand the dreams and inhibitions of a consumer and what drives people to buy?. Unfortunately, it did not cover the groundwork most of us have to do for the first few years in the industry.

I find it ironic that we work in the ?art? of communications but do a relatively poor job of communicating what we as an industry, are all about.

I attended a conference last week where one of the topics ? Skills for the future ? was discussed at length. The debate was about how the industry can do a better job at attracting talented people and retaining them. From my experience, I think it is about laying down the ground rules from the start.

At university, most students are encouraged to develop their communications skills via presenting, group work and essay writing but upon entering the industry they find themselves checking lists of spots over and over again interspersed with making coffees and cleaning the kitchen. The expectations shaped by education don?t match reality.

Programs such as ?The Gruen Transfer? and articles such as ?Consuming Passion? do a great job of showing potential recruits where they may end up but I think we need to get involved at the point of education to normalise expectations and recruit people who are willing to learn the basics before running the company. After all we wouldn?t want to be victims of our own false advertising would we?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Industry awards... what do you thnk?

It is the eve of the Media Federation Awards I am starting to feel a bit nervous.

This is the first time I've entered an industry competition and I've been lucky enough to end up as a finalist.

My nerves have made me wonder though, how important are industry awards for agencies, individuals and clients alike?

Putting together my entry gave me an opportunity to think outside the box. I put together a proposal that, given the real-life constraints of budget, appeasing board members and securing required partnerships may not wholly come to life. My point here is, should we have an industry awards program that allows the creative/strategic brilliance shine and as such build a library of knowledge that brands can access when selecting an agency (or even the people they would like working on their business)?

What the current awards system does is highlights the good work that has actually come to life, but a huge number of fabulous ideas never get showcased because they get over-thrown by other factors at play. This is all part of the game I suppose I just wonder what value prospective clients get from this.

Personally, entering the awards has given me a morale boost. Ending up in the same room as some of the industry's most awarded and talented people is a huge confidence booster. I would have loved to have been exposed to this when I was at uni or a media assistant but I was never even aware of the industries bodies. In light of the industry recruitment problems, rather than self-promotion within our own industry maybe its about promoting the achievements highlighted by awards nights outside of the industry and as a result attracting other quality people into media.

I'm interested to know what you all think about industry awards and how they should be used for self-promotion (agency & individual) and agency selection (by brands).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm posing a question...

Last night I got home at a reasonable hour and as such had time to actually sit down and watch TV. For once, I wasn't splitting my mind between the TV, my laptop, cooking dinner, catching up with my man or texting on my mobile... I was simply watching TV.

And guess what? I realised why TV audiences are in decline.

How have we come so far in developing the technologies around media and more specifically TV, so too deliver a better quality product but have forgotten to invest in the product itself?

Sure there have been some moments of local brilliance in recent times thanks to Underbelly, Thank God You're Here and ABC's Chris Lilley properties but I can't understand why the FTA networks need to resort to investing in Australian productions of brain-numbing mind matter such as Wipeout. Honestly, is the program rating just because people are too lazy to switch off or are the meter boxes recording eyes that are actually out of the room??

Perhaps its a matter of personal taste but I feel a little miffed being asked to invest in a digital TV/set top box and/or Tivo simply to watch people throwing themselves at giant inflatable balls and landing in mud - I could get this for free on a Friday night at the local footy club.

I'd like to know what everyone else thinks about TV content and why its being dumbed down?

*** The glam girl picture has nothing to do with this post (except that she's promoting a TV) I was just hoping to attract as much traffic as Stu did with his glam-girl post.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

From intrusion to engagement: How do we connect with an audience that'smore powerful than us?

I've been to a few media/pr/advertising conferences before and there is always a broad spectrum of topics and speakers who range in professionalism and interest. At one end of the spectrum you have death by powerpoint and at the other end you have Mark D'Arcy, the Chief Creative Officer of Time Warner Global Media Group.

D'Arcy's address was both interesting and informative and in itself, exemplified his topic. Admittedly, if TimeWarner couldn't put together a compelling show reel then who could?

I was engaged from the first notes of Silverchair's Straight Lines (genius - using a band from the crowd's homeland as backing to his intro had D'Arcy's audience immediately onside). This reel evoked smiles, frowns, foot tapping and above all attentative eyeballs as it ran through the enormous catalogue of products the company has on offer.

So D'Arcy started talking. "In Hollywood nobody knows anything" he quoted William Goldman. D'Arcy was referring to the notion that there is so many 'experts' in our industry but really, once you become an expert in one area the landscape has already changed and while your skills do not become redundant they require continual refinement to keep with the nature of the changing media environemnt.

In 2004 we had video on demand
2005 along came user generated content
2006 saw audiences embrace the virtual world
2007 made us all victims of social networking

So what happened to the 'experts' in each of these areas? They quickly had to become experts in all of these areas because for audiences, excellent video on demand is no good if it doesn't cohere with their social networking habits. This audience demand makes them more powerful than us, the media people (advertisers, owners, buyers).

D'Arcy pointed to some relevant audience changes:

Timeshift - time is increasingly irrelevant. Audiences can access any content they want at anytime of the day - say goodbye to appointment viewing.
Place shifts - audiences want the content they love where they love to be.
Atomizes - audiences choose what they want to watch, the media companies no longer choose what they will show.
Multi-channels - people are consuming more media on the whole. New channels are consumed not at the expense of other channels but in conjunction with them.
Create - access to technology means audiences can create their own media.
Curates - the way we organise media has changed. Audiences now use the media itself (internet) to organise their other media (pictures).
Critique - the wisdom of the masses has suddenly become more interesting.
Syndication - is very valueable. If you create loyalty via portal you have an advantage over single-minded media companies.
So if audiences have changed so much how does this affect the way advertisers communicate with them?

According to D'Arcy audiences have great expectations and given their vast array of choices, if one channel doesn't deliver, they will access their content elsewhere. Both for advertisers and media companies, dialogue is no longer a 'nice to have' but the cost of entry to an audience. Likewise, the media buzz word 'integration' is no longer an option but a given. If an advertiser or media company neglects to address their audience across multiple platforms, the reality is they will miss out on a significant portion of their potential audience.

This said, there is a universal demand for excellence and all platforms must be excellent!

The new media savvy audiences are open to advertising because they see the value behind it. Sponsorship and product integration has made it obvious that advertisers fund content and according to D'Arcy, 67% of consumers would rather get excellent free content with advertising, than poor content without advertising.

To make excellent content however, media owners & advertisers must know their audience and thus the relevance of dialogue is again pertinent. Media, used to be a numbers/sales based business but is now more than ever an ideas based industry. The most highly sought after skills amongst employees will soon be their ability to collaborate. All content will need to be insight-driven and these insights will need to be arrived at both through traditional means and the media-audience dialogue. D'Arcy indicates that advertiser measurement will shift from ROI to ROA (return on attention).

What I took from D'Arcy's address was not just learnings about audience engagement but inspiration for improving my own presentation skills. D'Arcy didn't speak at his audeince but engaged them with interesting content.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Convergence for the masses

It was announced yesterday that "FOXTEL subscribers will soon be able to download programs on demand using the internet, and also transfer these programs to other devices."

This facility is expected to be available in early 2009. From my point of view - its about time. I personally don't subscribe to Foxtel because I simply don't spend enough time in front of the TV to warrant it. But this gives me a reason to. Now I will be able to download the programs all of my friends are talking about and fit them into my day around my existing lifestyle (ie while I'm commuting).

It will be interesting to see how this pans out for Foxtel though. Their announcement also stated that the facility "will include strict digital rights management to ensure the programs cannot be copied and can be used only by the Foxtel subscriber." I'm not so keen on this - isn't the beauty of greater accessibility to content the ability to then share it?

I'm guessing the greatest effect this will have on consumer behaviour is giving the masses the ability to download without having to trawl the expanse of content that exists on the internet AND without having to sign up to an expensive broadband contract. Hopefully it will be structured as an organised quick-fix, bundled into the Foxtel subscription.

If that's the case sign me up.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm back...

Its been awhile but I've been inspired so I've decided to start writing again.

This entry isn't exactly a pre-cursor for what I intend to publish moving forward, it merely serves as a launching pad to share with you where I am at now.

After leaving the island that had it in for me my bus driver & I returned to the land of Oz.  We are so happy!! I simply can't express how good it is to be home and have the luxuries of running water, fresh food, friends and a population in excess of 100,000 to revel in!

I am happily employed by my dream company - one that doesn't have a chauvinistic pig at the head but quite the opposite.  It is one that encourages creativity, a balanced lifestyle and expression of opinion.  It is one that encourages hard work but not excess.  It is one where I fit in.

Although I am somewhat settled back into life in Australia I still travel a lot.  Everyday.  For four hours.  That's right.... no longer do I have the ever exciting lifestyle of a traveller but the life of a commuter.

Now I have had a number of people express their sympathy to the fact that I make the journey day in day out from home to work BUT I need to point out that this life, although tiring is much more satisfying than life on an island.

Each day I experience new things and although they may be things I would rather go without, they do bring to me a new perspective on life.  

So, if you are a commuter and if you perhaps think that you go under the radar of anonymity - watch out, I'm taking notes!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Until one day came the learning process...

Travelling alone in Europe was the best experience of my life.

It allowed me to discover my strengths and forced me to rely solely on myself for all the answers - even if those answers were sometimes wrong - like the time I ended up in Caen rather than Cannes in France. I was inspired every single day and I kept a record of it by starting this blog.

I recognised that I loved writing and that when I was to return to 'real life' I wanted to incorporate my love for writing into my day job.

But my travels weren't over yet. I felt compelled to 'give something back' and applied for a role with AusAid to be placed as a media, PR and communications trainer in Samoa and hence started the most challenged period of my life to date.

After 12 months and many, many tears later, I returned to Australia and secured a role as a communications strategist with bellamyhayden - one of the forefathers of strategic thinking in Australia.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Riding the high of old media addiction....

I was at a planning day yesterday where coupons were referred to as the heroin of media. Once you're on it, you can't get off. Immediately following I had a source of brilliance lean across and tell me that if coupons equate to heroin then surely TV is the crystal meth of the media world - cheaper and more addictive.
This got me thinking... should we approach the tough transition from traditional media and media plans like one would a rehab program?

1. We admitted we were powerless over the force of TV ? that our marketing efforts and had become unmanageable without it.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves (the agency and new world of communications) could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God (the agency) as we understood that we pay him to be the expert.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God (the agency), to ourselves, and to our consumers the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God (the agency) remove all these defects of character and embrace the improvements they recommend.
7. Humbly asked Him (the agency) to remove our shortcomings whilst making me look good.
8. Made a list of all persons (planners, strategists & media visionaries) we had harmed, and became willing to appease our relationships.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them but not our competitors others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through email and boozy lunches, to improve our conscious contact with God (the agency), praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to TV addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Turning up the heat

At 8.30pm last night, I tuned into Channel 9 to watch ?Scorched?. I had a vague idea from same-night pre-promotes that it was a futuristic Australian movie about Sydney under bushfire arrest. I wasn?t far wrong about the program content but what I didn?t realise was the massive content extension online.

After speaking to some colleagues this morning I discovered that I can get a greater ?Scorched? fix online, via a plethora of extended content.

The ?Scorched? online world consists of a number of websites that all relate to the events of the tele-movie and online drama. The problem here is that I only found this out after a google search that lead me to a relatively uncaptivating ninemsn site (within the top 100 results none were for the official ?Scorched? sites except the ninemsn link). From here you can access the ?real? content on a number of sites built with different audiences in mind.

I don?t know how I originally missed that this was a cross-platform series. I work in media, watch TV before & after work, listen to the radio whilst at work, read the paper, am exposed to outdoor media at least 5 times a day and am online 90% of my waking hours. So begs the questions; am I oblivious to advertising or did Channel 9 not strongly invest in promoting this cross-platform locally produced program? I suggest the answer is the latter.

What annoys me is that despite daily desk research I, as a media professional, didn?t know about this development and the opportunities it could have held for my clients. When new developments alter our media landscape I feel it is the media providers? job to educate the public on how to adopt these changes. How can advertisers be expected to inject money into such developments if there is no guarantee their consumers will know how and when to engage with them?