mediacom blink #4 - the consumer issue

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MediaCom Blink #4 - The Consumer Issue

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    dell.com/domore

    Powering 25 of the worlds most popular websites.

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    MEDIA TRENDS

    CONSUMERS

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  • 2 MEDIACOM | BLINK #4

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    What is the best way to reach consumers today? Are brands ready to meet the demands of digital natives? Will technology be a carriage or a barrier for messages? And what can we do to prepare for further changes in consumer behaviour?

    These are just a few of the many important questions that every advertiser should be asking themselves.

    Empowered by choices, we now live in a world of opportunity where everything is just a click away. As consumers, we expect to have our needs met imme-diately and nearly effortlessly, and more than ever, we are not afraid to share information to get there. And with every online interaction, we are creating a footprint.

    For advertisers, this has created huge opportunities and challenges. On one hand, the doors have been opened to a world of consumers, making it easier to speak directly and relevantly to audiences. On the other hand, however, consumers are now in charge of their own media consumption and are enclosed in interest-specific filter bubbles created by search engine algorithms. It is even harder for brands to get noticed in the first place, and brands need to tackle both the consumers and the technology.

    To break through, brands need to look closer at the data that consumers leave behind and think about what makes them tick. Get it right, and the rewards will be worth it; consumers will love and trust your brand. Get it wrong, with no focus on the consumer, and your brand will be left outside the bubble.

    In this issue of BLINK, we recognize that the shift in power from advertisers to consumers is a noticeable one and that many questions still need answering. Inside, we identify what advertisers are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and what they will need to do more of in the future.

    I hope you find it interesting, useful, and ultimately, empowering.

    Regards,

    Stephen Allan

    MediaCom Worldwide Chairman and CEO

    INTROWELCOME

    #4 Winter 2011

    Circulation: 8.907

    MediaCom Global124 Theobalds RoadLondon WC1X 8RXUK

    Tel.: +44 (0)20 7158 5500

    Email: [email protected]: www.mediacom.com

    Editor-in-Chief:Signe Wandler, [email protected]

    Design & layout:Propellant, www.propellant.dkArt Director, Martin Dahlbeck

    Cover art:Stephan Walter

    Printed By:Vilhelm Jensen & Partnere

    ISSN: 1903-5373

    The opinions expressed in thearticles are those of the authors.Minor textual contents may berepublished as long as the original author and publication are cited.

    Find BLINK in the News & Insight section at www.mediacom.com

  • WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE?

    STATUS UPDATES

    34

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    Take the quiz to test if your brand communication is up-to-date.

    By Dennis Grzenia and Daniel Bischoff, MediaCom GermanyConsumption is still a way of displaying social status but digital is changing the game. What does this mean for brand communication?

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  • A CROWDED PLACE

    DIGITALIN RETAIL

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    44

    InterviewWhy crowdsourcing is a powerful tool.

    By Tricia Nichols, Managing Partner, MediaCom US The unstoppable march of digital marketing is forcing retail brands to fundamentally transform their relationship with shoppers.

    CONTENT02 Welcome

    06 Please Me Now

    10 Status Updates

    18 Cases: Dell & EA

    20 Hacking the Meme Code

    26 The Data Wars

    28 M:Files: The Power of Empathy

    30 Finding New Magic

    34 M:Files: What is your Relationship like? (QUIZ)

    36 Interview: A Crowded Place

    40 Digital Persuasion

    44 Digital: Retailers New Path to Purchase

    48 Interview: Time to Get Active

    #4

    4 MEDIACOM | BLINK #4

  • HACKING THE MEME CODE

    DIGITAL PERSUASION

    THE DATAWARS

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    By Joerg Blumtritt, MediaCom GermanySocial media and sophisticated algorithms make it increasingly difficult to get your message across.

    By Mauritz KapteinPersuasion profiles will help create more effective messages and valuable, trade-able data.

    By Daniel Nye GriffithsWho controls information about where consumers go online and what they do there?

    THECONSUMER

    ISSUE

    PLEASE ME NOW06

    By Aimar Niedzwiedzki, MediaCom Beyond Advertising, Norway

    Are you entering the Customer Satisfaction Treadmill?

    5BLINK #4 | MEDIACOM

  • 6 MEDIACOM | BLINK #4 6

    Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Laureate and the father of behaviour economic theory, described a principle he named The Customer Satisfaction Treadmill. The faster we get it, the faster we want it. The more convenient it becomes, the more we realise just how convenient it could be. The more our unreasonable demands are met, the more unreasonable they become.

    Every time you go out of your way to please a customer you are adding weight to creating unreasonable demand. But it doesnt have to be this way: there has never been a need for IKEA to include a carpenter in its flat packs. Because we have been trained in regards to what we expect from IKEA.

    An important force that shapes brand strategy today is the threat of substitute products or services, according to Professor Michael E. Porter from Harvard University. This factor leads business managers to believe that loyalty should be bought and included in automated programmes. With the entrance of the social net where the individual voice suddenly becomes visible, real-time support has become the latest trend. But how smart is it to be there, everywhere for the customer? And what is the purpose?

    UNSTRUCTURED DATAWhen someone shouts out into thin air via Twitter, that something is wrong with your service or product, and you reply without thinking through all the consequences and possible snowball effects, you are about to embark on a dangerous trail.

    Are you really ready to fulfil that demand? Are you going to be there for the customer, mountain high and valley wide? If not, youd better not please every whim that we the customers express via these new social channels. Because most likely my barking has no specific aim. It is more often than not, an attempt to get attention from my surroundings, not you (the product) specifically. I am saying you suck because I want recognition from my friends. It is a modern game of forget me not. You just happen to be the content.

    Many brands are now using Facebook as a customer service platform. Ask yourself what the purpose and consequence might be. Airline companies that deliver personal flight services on Facebook are in fact creating a feeling of a personal assistance that is massively missing when they get to airport and on the actual flight.

    As a secondary effect is that their Facebook wall ends up as spam since everything is about 1:1 experience. They have lost a good tool for communication to many people in their attempt to satisfy their customers imagined needs. Brands that take this route are repeatedly solving the same problems over and over because the answer in not available as a simple query for the customer. Most questions are repetitive and basic. Things consumers should be able to find in a good database. A good structured database. So the same message doesnt have to be sent hundred times to different people on the same wall.

    CUSTOMERS ARE AN INCREASINGLY HARD AUDIENCE TO PLEASE AND BRANDS MAY HAVE TO APPLY SOME TOUGH LOVE. HAVE WE FOUND THE RIGHT BALANCE IN THE RELATIONSHIP?

    BY AIMAR NIEDZWIEDZKI, MEDIACOM BEYOND ADVERTISING, NORWAY

    PLEASE ME

    NOW!

  • 7BLINK #4 | MEDIACOM

    GET SATISFACTION?Even worse. You train your customers that they can shout in the woods and be heard. There are online platforms that actually help customers without creating increased demands on the brand. Getsatisfaction.com, a community-based support platform, gives fans of companies and their staff a place to share their knowledge of certain products or services so the pressure on customer support decreases. Swedish music service Spotify has done this with great success. Spotifys customer community

    routinely receives more than 100.000 visitors per week. This traffic provides support to Spotifys 10 million registered users, and helps the Spotify team remain lean despite an exploding customer base.

    RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESSTreadmilling isnt only about support. It is first and foremost about creating situations where expectations are adjusted without a specific purpose or strategy. Business owners tend to spend more time looking for threats than opportunities. Jumping if the angry

    Twitter mob says their new logo is ugly. Considering the general publics level of knowledge the process of logo creation I am certain that one should be cautious about making such decisions based on ephemeral popular demand.

    Here is what a good business leader should do. Monitor and track conversations on the web with a suitable social analytics tool. Acknowledge the frustration on the subject publicly. Find out if the 99,99% of customers who did not join the mob like

    your logo or not. Ask your employees. If the logo is liked by the silent majority, then fight for them. That will earn respect from the mob over time. And give you something to talk to fans about: The actual reasons why you run the business the way you do. By having an open and honest strategy most critique will most likely become an asset.

    This is what happened when JetBlue (not an airline, but a happy jetting company) left many passengers in a horrible situation during a blizzard some years ago. PH

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    CONTENTPLEASE ME NOW!

    I AM SAYING YOU SUCK BECAUSE I WANT RECOGNITION FROM MY FRIENDS. IT IS A MODERN TIMES GAME OF FORGET ME NOT. YOU JUST HAPPEN TO BE THE CONTENT

  • CONTENTPLEASE ME NOW!

    BUT HOW SMART IS IT TO BE THERE, EVERYWHERE FOR THE CUSTOMER? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE?

    The angry mob went ballistic on Twitter, media picked it up, and the companys CEO put on the mad hat and made a YouTube video. He gave a public apology but most importantly he made a promise on how JetBlue would deal with similar problems in the future.

    The next thing JetBlue did was make sure that all staff members tried really hard to make every passenger feel special. Not by replying on customer service mat-ters on Facebook. They actually state pretty clearly that they dont respond to specific customer service issues posted on this platform. Instead they perform random acts of kindness; like staff members performing as an a cappella band at their JFK Terminal, or instantly mak-

    ing their Caribbean flights freely available for rescue workers from the US when the terrible earthquake hit the islands in 2010.

    Real human attention gives your employees the power to become autonomic. This is how you make true champions of positive customer satisfaction. Loyalty programmes, and similar schemes, dont work as well as the human touch because they create expectancy. When customers start to expect gifts or bonuses they dont value them as highly anymore. It is bought loyalty. We are running on the customer satisfaction treadmill.

    TAKE IT TO THE C LEVEL Customer service can be immensely powerful for a brand if used correctly. Just ask Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com, the CEO who built the worlds largest online shoe store by delivering happiness. To really understand the value of customer service as an asset, all Zappos.coms employees are obliged to attend

    customer service training in two of their first four weeks of work, regardless of department and position.

    All employees are expected to drive a wow-effect through service. To make a lasting impression you must do something above and beyond whats expected. Make someone smile. But Zappos staff do this over the phone. Not via 140 characters or less. Seeing a problem online does not mean it must be solved online.

    The more I research customer service, the more important the human factor becomes. This is about humanising the brand or company. Our power as

    customers via the social net will affect the business strategy of the core business. This needs to be under-stood by the C-suite, the CEO and his friends up there. If they dont see any danger in automating satisfaction in measurable programmes or being present without understanding why, for us the customers, treadmilling will continue. That was key to the success of Zappos.com. Delivering happiness came from the CEO. It was a core element of the strategy.

    It is possible to love data and show some love to the customer simultaneously. But only when a clear busi-ness motivated strategy is in place, and not without a clear understanding of what tools to use. Being service minded and making sure that you help your customer is very important. But know when, where and how. Why and with what isnt such a bad idea either.

    So if you want to please me now, I dont mind. But I didnt expect you to, before you just did so. And now my expectations just went up a notch. Good luck.

    AIMAR NIEDZWIEDZKIAimar Niedzwiedzki, Marketing Entrepreneur, MediaCom Beyond Advertising. Author of marketing blog tasteasreal.com.

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    9BLINK #4 | MEDIACOM

  • MEDIACOM | BLINK #4

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    I CONSUME, THEREFORE I AM

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  • CONSUMPTION IS STILL A MEANS TO DISPLAY SOCIAL STATUS, BUT DIGITISATION IS CHANGING THE GAME. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO BRAND COMMUNICATION?

    BY DENNIS GRZENIA AND DANIEL BISCHOFF, MEDIACOM GERMANY

    Cars are one of the worlds strongest signifiers of social status and give everyone an opportunity to compare social standing. Today many of the signifiers of our place in society can be seen in the goods we own which provide helpful, and often instant, indications of our place in the social order.

    In 1899, Thorstein Veblen, a US economist and sociologist, who became well-known for his Theory of the Leisure Class, shaped the term conspicuous consumption. That is, spending money on visible goods for the purpose of displaying income or wealth or social status. According to Veblen, the consumption of goods not only satisfied basic needs but also provided a means to build reputation.

    This not only promotes and justifies limitless consumption since you can always climb one step higher on the social ladder but also makes consumption a way of communicating our hopefully rising - status. For instance, we know that owning a Mercedes Benz indicates high status based on income, education, and prestige.

    Just think how you react when you meet someone new. You instantly categorise

    STATUS UPDATES

    them based on their appearance, their clothes, accessories and cars. We are all exposed to the consumption patterns of those in our reference groups and seek to replicate the patterns. That is why people consume to keep up with their peers and to impress people in lower social classes.

    Richard Centers, author of The Psychology of Social Classes: A Study of Class Consciousness, defines social class as follows: A mans class is a part of his ego, a feeling on his part of belongingness to something: an identification with something larger than himself. This definition still holds true but, accord-ing to the report Middle Britain, the traditional markers of social class like job, family background and wealth are fading away. Often people even assign themselves into the wrong social class, e.g. 36% of builders classify themselves as middle class and 29% of bank managers say they are working class.

    The traditional boundaries of social classes are fading and they are becoming less significant. The reason being that the traditional ways of differentiation and

    demarcation such as nationality, religion, or education no longer work as they did in the past.

    Instead people search for new reference groups, which results in a more fragmented affiliation. You can be a banker at day and roaming World of Warcraft as an orc at night. One does not rule out the other, since the current profile depends on current reference groups. And in every situation and every area of life, we can use different symbols to display our status.

    FROM PHYSICAL TO VIRTUAL GOODSAs in so many other areas, digital is providing new ways to consume, display and build reputation. In the past, you had to pass my house to see my car. Today, you just have to Google me! On the internet anyone can find enough information to determine the status of others.

    And there is a shift from physical status symbols to digital ones. Of course, physical status symbols retain their impact but status is now also conveyed by my Facebook profile and the amount of friends I have or by the magical sword I own in World of

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    11BLINK #4 | MEDIACOM 11BLINK #4 | MEDIACOM

    CONTENTSTATUS UPDATES

  • Warcraft. This is also the reason why people upload photographs of their (posh) meals.

    The enabler of these new digital status symbols is the smartphone (a status symbol in itself). It is the physi-cal manifestation of my ability to show my consump-tion to the whole digital society within seconds.

    In addition, if you post something on a social network-ing site, you reach a minimum of several hundred of people within a second. Digitisation provides the capability to communicate to an infinite audience.

    On top of this, virtual goods can also in themselves be used to display my social status and who I am. Digitisation has become an accelerator of consumption. And all goods must now submit to the mechanisms of this new way of distribution.

    Physical goods need to offer a fast, ergonomic and effective way to distribute themselves via digital media such as Facebook. This need to show off my physical goods online means that the design of products is becoming even more important, because my possessions have to look perfect in the pictures that I share.

    Tools like Instagram have responded to this need by providing multiple filters that can be used to enhance the pictures. Everything I photograph looks great in no time, whether it is a retro sports bike or a meal at my favourite restaurant.

    NEW CURRENCIES FOR A NEW WORLDWhen we talk about virtual currency, we mean objects in digital environments like game items (the magical sword from World of Warcraft or the tractor from Farmville etc.), that can be traded for real that is, the old - money.

    Taking this idea one step further, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also provide their own virtual currencies, namely likes, followers, views and subscribers. Likes and followers are sold for real money, and an increasing number of people have already paid with a tweet.

    While the digital immigrant may still distinguish between virtual and real money, digital natives view this distinction obsolete. In the future, it will make no difference, whether I own 1.000 Facebook credits or US$100 because money is nothing more than an enabler.

    The business of virtual goods especially within (social) browser-based games has exploded in the last few years. Even if we can play the game for free, costs occur if the gamers wish to add to the game, be it with a bigger farm or a superior spacecraft. Such virtual items have the potential to become the new status symbols. In the US, the virtual goods market already reached US$1,6 billion by the end of 2010, while social gaming contributed US$835 million.

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    12 MEDIACOM | BLINK #4

  • ON TOP OF THIS, VIRTUAL GOODS CAN ALSO IN THEMSELVES BE USED TO DISPLAY MY SOCIAL STATUS AND WHO I AM

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    13BLINK #4 | MEDIACOMBLINK #4 | MEDIACOM

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  • self-produced homemade video content can find its way on the TV screen, as seen in the Deutsche Telekoms Million Moments campaign. All these brand communications help the user look good to his peer group.

    THE FUTURE: FROM ASPIRATION-AL TO MEANINGFUL BRANDSIn Germany, there is currently an intense debate about forbidding the like button. The key argument being that it stores data about consumers who are not Facebook members and have thus not agreed to the storage.

    There is very little probability that the like button will be banned, but critical voices have been raised and it has already caused suspicion. This is one of the reasons why the like button should not be seen as the holy grail of advertising. It goes beyond the likes.

    Brands that glue people together in communities go beyond the fulfilment of conspicuous consumption. To be part of a community one has to identify with others. However classic prestige-driving

    or aspirational brands tend to stress individualism or even ego (look what I can afford and you cant!) which is not helpful in the formation of a community.

    And let us not kid ourselves: Most people wouldnt care if 80% of all brands disap-peared tomorrow. Products and services are not as attached to brands as we may think.

    There are already clear signs of people liberating themselves from the paradigms of the previous decades individualism, consumerism, mass society as shown in impressive ways in the uprisings in Spain, UK, and recently with #occupy-wallstreet in the US. These netizens, digital natives, pirates - or however they might be labelled - are highly suspicious of the old economic structures without being left, green or any other form of classic anti-consumer-ideology.

    In this new environment, trust is established through mutual experiences which take place on social media, no matter if it is politics, brands or products. The way that these new consumers tribalise

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    A BRAND NEW PERSPECTIVE This development not only has an impact on products and goods, but also on com-munication. The advertising industry needs to embrace this new need to communicate status. This happens both on the creative side that is design and embellishment but also on the structural media level.

    By integrating portable devices and cloud services into our everyday life, we have already entered the next level in the evolu-tion of media. Media barriers have been lowered and every piece of information (on signs, ads, products, buildings, and even people etc.) is linked to further content via constructs such as QR codes, augmented reality, or Shazam, to name but a few.

    Facebook has become a diary of status symbols or a museum of me as seen in Intels campaign (see QR Code). All relevant content is easily gathered by using the omnipresent like button. This mechanism is already heavily used by brands, especially in campaigns with a participatory aspect. People can integrate themselves into movie sequences and even

    After studying Theatre, Film and Media as well as Philosophy in Frankfurt, Brussels and Berlin, Daniel started his professional career in journalism before heading to the Berlin office of Trend Research Company TrendONE. He joined MediaCom Germany in 2010 where he founded and heads up Innovation Science, a research unit dedicated to applying trends and innovations to media planning. He and his team work across a broad spectrum of clients and industries.

    DANIEL BISCHOFF (*1981)Research Director at MediaCom Germany

  • QR CODE

    STATUSUPDATE

    into communities over social networks means brands need to be less pretentious, and make fewer grand promises, and instead donate value and meaning.

    In the future, brands will still be able to leverage the phenomenon of conspicu-ous consumption, yet they will have to tap into the accelerated opportuni-ties offered by digital media by becoming meaningful brands.

    So we see a shift towards brands that give meaning, support consumers who show their sympathy with others and thus foster community. As long as a brand focuses on being aspirational rather than humble, it is highly vulnerable to negative news that gets spread fast over social networks.

    A brand that instead positions itself in the community by helping, doing good, being of real value for the communitys members is more robust and less likely to be harmed if someone posts a negative comment.

    LITERATURE

    Conspicuous consumption by Thorstein Veblen

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorstein_Veblen

    Definition of Social Class by Richard Centers

    http://www.jstor.org/pss/1388331

    Middle Britain Report by William Nelson

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/7053761/

    Were-all-middle-class-now-darling.html

    Virtual Goods and Currencies by Vili Lehdonvirta

    http://vili.lehdonvirta.com/

    Monetizing digital media by Ernst & Young

    http://www.ey.com/Publication/

    vwLUAssets/Monetizing_digital_media/$File/

    Monetizing_digital_media.pdf

    Rethinking the Idea of the Brand by Umair Haque

    http://blip.tv/harvard-business-publishing-video/

    rethinking-the-idea-of-the-brand-4826346

    After graduating in economics, business studies, and social psychology, Dennis started working for MediaCom as a media planner. Thus he came in touch with various clients from categories like telecommunication, FMCG, and insurance. In early 2010, Dennis became Research Analyst at MediaCom Science and is now responsible for trend research, social media, and communication consultancy.

    DENNIS GRZENIA (*1979) Research Analyst at MediaCom Germany

  • Will Critchlow

    HARDtalk is the flagship programme on BBC World News that asks the difficult questions. In this special series of interviews for Blink, Stephen Sackur, one of the BBCs most respected journalists, adapts the same uncompromising style with moguls and figureheads shaping the worlds of advertising, sales and media. This issue, Stephen goes head to head with Will Critchlow, the co-founder and Director of Distilled, a London-based SEO and search engine reputation management (SERM) agency. Well-known across the industry, Will regularly blogs and speaks at conferences.

    Advertising feature sponsored by BBC World News.BBC WORLD NEWS is a trademark of the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC 1996.

    SS: Do you accept that what you do amounts to a manipulation of the Internet?

    WC: It really isnt about taking what is already there on our clients websites and manipulating things so they appear higher up in search results. Its actually about helping them change their business, change their website, change their online marketing so that they end up appearing there. I would say that theres a misconception that what we do is an external thing to our clients. In other words, they do their thing and we just tick away in the background manipulating things. Actually its much more integrated than that, or at least it should be, and we push our clients hard to let us be integrated into what they do. What we do is very much a mixture of technical consulting, helping them produce an excellent website; content strategy, in other words helping them decide what they should be writing about; and promotion strategy which broadly speaking tends to look a lot like online PR.

    SS: Let me ask you about one particular aspect of your business, that is your work on search engine optimisation (SEO). It is possible to cheat isnt it, when it comes to this optimisation process? You can tag links across the web on unrelated content, for example. Do your clients ever want you to do that?

    WC: Firstly, what do we mean by cheating? Theres a whole spectrum of things ranging from the completely legitimate with perhaps unintended consequences. There are some things that you might do completely naturally and normally that have an unintended influence on how you perform in the search engines. All the way through to things that are slightly worse than that. There are things that Google, for example, dont like you to do that actually have a perfectly innocent explanation. Through to things that are very distasteful - alternative methods like spamming blog comments which just creates work for the owner of the blog in cleaning those things up. All the way through to the actually illegal, hacking websites, breaking into computers, that kind of thing.

    SS: You mention Google and as you suggested, it has a pretty strict set of guidelines. It has things it says are acceptable, and many things it says are unacceptable. Do you think that their guidelines are sometimes too strict?

    WC: I wouldnt say their guidelines are necessarily too strict. I think that they are occasionally a little bit vague and open to interpretation. They leave themselves leeway to say that they dont like something after the fact, very often. I personally would like to see them tightened up and I would also like to see some kind of appeals process. Theyre very much judge, jury and executioner at the moment, especially in the markets where they have such a massive market share.

    SS: I just wonder whether this SEO process is as complex and multifaceted and as difficult as some people inside the industry seem to say it is, because obviously it serves your interests to have people believe that, because your business is all about selling your service?

    WC: I would challenge that actually. We put a huge amount of effort into educating our peers and our clients on what it is we do, why we do it, how we do it. We run conferences to explain, we dont hold back our secrets. There definitely are people in our industry who would rather it be seen as a dark art and a mystery, but we are not among those. We believe that the biggest challenge, the biggest thing we need to overcome as an industry and as a business ourselves is fear of the unknown.

    What we need to do is educate businesses that this process is not rocket science, its not horribly complex, its not horribly risky. There are definite rewards, and its usually seen as part of a modern marketing mix for any business doing business online.

    SS: Just how important is it for a business selling itself today to be at the top of the search list? To be either number one in any keyword Google search, or at least, to be on the front page?

    WC: It very much depends on the business. If you are a business to business organisation selling entirely through personal networks and relationships, you could maybe get away with not even having a website. But if youre selling online or you have an e-commerce operation, appearing in search is absolutely critical. It is literally a question of survival for many businesses.

    One of the key realisations for our business was that it very often isnt actually about helping our clients rank for a specific keyword. That activity is often misguided and a low return on investment. Often its much more valuable to help them build up a website that ranks for many new key words, and that can actually bring higher returns to their business. It is also more valuable, in my opinion, to the consumer than the activity of fiddling around as to whether something ranks at number three or number one in a highly competitive niche, because youre actually adding new value to the internet; youre creating new content and youre allowing search engines to index content that they previously couldnt get to.

    SS: Let me switch focus now to another important element of your business, search engine reputation management (SERM). Is it right to regard this as your clients wanting to bury bad news and accentuate the positive?

    WC: Thats a pretty close description of what they come to us asking for. The first thing we say to them is that in the modern, connected, socially-networked world, its pretty much impossible to bury bad news.

    SS: You can bury it pretty deep down the web though cant you?

    WC: Depending on what it is and depending on what the alternative news is out there. The very first rule of reputation management that Ive always

    preached to my clients is step one: stop doing the stupid stuff. We have taken on clients in the past who have still been doing the stupid stuff and its never worked out well for anyone. When theres a constant flow of new stories that they dont like, it is pretty much impossible and a fools errand to try and pretend otherwise. The web is simply too good at uncovering interesting stories.

    SS: Assuming that they stop doing the stupid stuff, it then comes down to how effectively you can cover up the embarrassing behaviour that they displayed in the past?

    WC: It is definitely one way of phrasing it. I prefer to work with people who want to do new and interesting things that are more interesting than their past and promote those. Thinking about what ranks when somebody searches for your name is, I would argue, a good activity for pretty much everyone because it is, these days, how you get a job. When you apply for a job, very often they want to know who you are, what youve done before and they want to know the real you, and they are going to creep around and see whats out there.

    SS: They want to know the real you, not the airbrushed you, but your job is really to promote the most positive view of you or any subject and that isnt always the most truthful is it?

    WC: So the activity we would be doing is promoting the new stuff, whatever it might be. But that is not an activity that hides anything else. Its simply presenting both sides of an argument. There is no way to remove existing stories from the internet once theyve finished.

    SS: Are you saying that if a client approaches you saying, my priority here is to ensure that it is as difficult as possible to access information about x, y or z, that Im rather unhappy about, are you saying that youve refused to do that for clients because that wasnt truthful or morally right?

    WC: No, what I would say to each of them is that you have to realise that stuff is always going to be able to be found. We cant remove it, we cant make it that hard to find. To be perfectly honest, the search engines these days are phenomenally good at presenting a variety of views of someone. When you search for a particularly controversial subject on Google for example, you will find that they actively return differing views on that first page the search is on. So, I do counsel my clients that you can definitely put a good story forwards but you cant remove the other stuff, and that definitely has resulted in us not working with some individuals.

    Interview conducted with Will Critchlow October 2011.

    For further information on advertising and sponsorship on BBC World News and BBC.com please call +44 208 433 0000 or e-mail [email protected]

    In the modern, connected, socially-networked world, its pretty much impossible to bury bad news.

    There definitely are people in our industry who would rather it [SEO] be seen as a dark art and a mystery...

    HARDtalk presenter, Stephen Sackur

  • Will Critchlow

    HARDtalk is the flagship programme on BBC World News that asks the difficult questions. In this special series of interviews for Blink, Stephen Sackur, one of the BBCs most respected journalists, adapts the same uncompromising style with moguls and figureheads shaping the worlds of advertising, sales and media. This issue, Stephen goes head to head with Will Critchlow, the co-founder and Director of Distilled, a London-based SEO and search engine reputation management (SERM) agency. Well-known across the industry, Will regularly blogs and speaks at conferences.

    Advertising feature sponsored by BBC World News.BBC WORLD NEWS is a trademark of the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC 1996.

    SS: Do you accept that what you do amounts to a manipulation of the Internet?

    WC: It really isnt about taking what is already there on our clients websites and manipulating things so they appear higher up in search results. Its actually about helping them change their business, change their website, change their online marketing so that they end up appearing there. I would say that theres a misconception that what we do is an external thing to our clients. In other words, they do their thing and we just tick away in the background manipulating things. Actually its much more integrated than that, or at least it should be, and we push our clients hard to let us be integrated into what they do. What we do is very much a mixture of technical consulting, helping them produce an excellent website; content strategy, in other words helping them decide what they should be writing about; and promotion strategy which broadly speaking tends to look a lot like online PR.

    SS: Let me ask you about one particular aspect of your business, that is your work on search engine optimisation (SEO). It is possible to cheat isnt it, when it comes to this optimisation process? You can tag links across the web on unrelated content, for example. Do your clients ever want you to do that?

    WC: Firstly, what do we mean by cheating? Theres a whole spectrum of things ranging from the completely legitimate with perhaps unintended consequences. There are some things that you might do completely naturally and normally that have an unintended influence on how you perform in the search engines. All the way through to things that are slightly worse than that. There are things that Google, for example, dont like you to do that actually have a perfectly innocent explanation. Through to things that are very distasteful - alternative methods like spamming blog comments which just creates work for the owner of the blog in cleaning those things up. All the way through to the actually illegal, hacking websites, breaking into computers, that kind of thing.

    SS: You mention Google and as you suggested, it has a pretty strict set of guidelines. It has things it says are acceptable, and many things it says are unacceptable. Do you think that their guidelines are sometimes too strict?

    WC: I wouldnt say their guidelines are necessarily too strict. I think that they are occasionally a little bit vague and open to interpretation. They leave themselves leeway to say that they dont like something after the fact, very often. I personally would like to see them tightened up and I would also like to see some kind of appeals process. Theyre very much judge, jury and executioner at the moment, especially in the markets where they have such a massive market share.

    SS: I just wonder whether this SEO process is as complex and multifaceted and as difficult as some people inside the industry seem to say it is, because obviously it serves your interests to have people believe that, because your business is all about selling your service?

    WC: I would challenge that actually. We put a huge amount of effort into educating our peers and our clients on what it is we do, why we do it, how we do it. We run conferences to explain, we dont hold back our secrets. There definitely are people in our industry who would rather it be seen as a dark art and a mystery, but we are not among those. We believe that the biggest challenge, the biggest thing we need to overcome as an industry and as a business ourselves is fear of the unknown.

    What we need to do is educate businesses that this process is not rocket science, its not horribly complex, its not horribly risky. There are definite rewards, and its usually seen as part of a modern marketing mix for any business doing business online.

    SS: Just how important is it for a business selling itself today to be at the top of the search list? To be either number one in any keyword Google search, or at least, to be on the front page?

    WC: It very much depends on the business. If you are a business to business organisation selling entirely through personal networks and relationships, you could maybe get away with not even having a website. But if youre selling online or you have an e-commerce operation, appearing in search is absolutely critical. It is literally a question of survival for many businesses.

    One of the key realisations for our business was that it very often isnt actually about helping our clients rank for a specific keyword. That activity is often misguided and a low return on investment. Often its much more valuable to help them build up a website that ranks for many new key words, and that can actually bring higher returns to their business. It is also more valuable, in my opinion, to the consumer than the activity of fiddling around as to whether something ranks at number three or number one in a highly competitive niche, because youre actually adding new value to the internet; youre creating new content and youre allowing search engines to index content that they previously couldnt get to.

    SS: Let me switch focus now to another important element of your business, search engine reputation management (SERM). Is it right to regard this as your clients wanting to bury bad news and accentuate the positive?

    WC: Thats a pretty close description of what they come to us asking for. The first thing we say to them is that in the modern, connected, socially-networked world, its pretty much impossible to bury bad news.

    SS: You can bury it pretty deep down the web though cant you?

    WC: Depending on what it is and depending on what the alternative news is out there. The very first rule of reputation management that Ive always

    preached to my clients is step one: stop doing the stupid stuff. We have taken on clients in the past who have still been doing the stupid stuff and its never worked out well for anyone. When theres a constant flow of new stories that they dont like, it is pretty much impossible and a fools errand to try and pretend otherwise. The web is simply too good at uncovering interesting stories.

    SS: Assuming that they stop doing the stupid stuff, it then comes down to how effectively you can cover up the embarrassing behaviour that they displayed in the past?

    WC: It is definitely one way of phrasing it. I prefer to work with people who want to do new and interesting things that are more interesting than their past and promote those. Thinking about what ranks when somebody searches for your name is, I would argue, a good activity for pretty much everyone because it is, these days, how you get a job. When you apply for a job, very often they want to know who you are, what youve done before and they want to know the real you, and they are going to creep around and see whats out there.

    SS: They want to know the real you, not the airbrushed you, but your job is really to promote the most positive view of you or any subject and that isnt always the most truthful is it?

    WC: So the activity we would be doing is promoting the new stuff, whatever it might be. But that is not an activity that hides anything else. Its simply presenting both sides of an argument. There is no way to remove existing stories from the internet once theyve finished.

    SS: Are you saying that if a client approaches you saying, my priority here is to ensure that it is as difficult as possible to access information about x, y or z, that Im rather unhappy about, are you saying that youve refused to do that for clients because that wasnt truthful or morally right?

    WC: No, what I would say to each of them is that you have to realise that stuff is always going to be able to be found. We cant remove it, we cant make it that hard to find. To be perfectly honest, the search engines these days are phenomenally good at presenting a variety of views of someone. When you search for a particularly controversial subject on Google for example, you will find that they actively return differing views on that first page the search is on. So, I do counsel my clients that you can definitely put a good story forwards but you cant remove the other stuff, and that definitely has resulted in us not working with some individuals.

    Interview conducted with Will Critchlow October 2011.

    For further information on advertising and sponsorship on BBC World News and BBC.com please call +44 208 433 0000 or e-mail [email protected]

    In the modern, connected, socially-networked world, its pretty much impossible to bury bad news.

    There definitely are people in our industry who would rather it [SEO] be seen as a dark art and a mystery...

    HARDtalk presenter, Stephen Sackur

  • THE CHALLENGE:Dells website had swarms of visitorsbut too many were leaving without making a purchase.

    We needed to find a way to leverage stored data from cookieswhich could clearly indicate which products or type of products each shopper was interested in or maybe even intending to purchaseto increase engagement and keep their Dell.com experience top-of-mind after they left the site.

    OUR SOLUTION: We mixed cutting-edge technology with creative ingenuity to totally cut out inefficient advertising!

    We drastically improved the customer experience by increasing the relevancy of the advertising message seen by individual users, while minimising wastage and increasing engagement.

    HOW WE MADE A DIFFERENCE:In an industry-leading move, we developed a model that merged behavioural targeting technolo-gies capturing prospects visit history with dynamic creative tools that built customised messaging.

    Ads feature products from each consumers visit history, keeping them fresh days after visiting Dells website.

    We tagged hundreds of pages within Dells sitesomething few other blue chip advertisers have doneto pinpoint the reason for each visit, based on the products the visitor viewed, searched for, placed in their shopping cart or purchased.

    Our model recognised these prospects via a cookie, then retargeted them with customised ads on their next visit to an outside website running Dell advertising. So, if someone placed an Inspiron laptop in their shopping cart but exited before purchasing, that consumer would receive an Inspiron ad later on, for instance, Yahoo.com. Other visitors might see ads for products they were researching, or be cross-sold on products they had purchased.

    RESULTS:Our targeting produced outstanding improvements across the boardclick through rates, conver-sion and ROI.

    OnlineadswithbehaviouraltargetingconvertednearlyTHREEtimesmore than those without behavioural targeting! Behaviouraltargetedadsaccountfor42%ofDellsonlineimpressionsbutthey driveanamazing83%ofonlineadvertisingrevenues BehaviouraltargetingimpressionsgeneratealmostSEVENtimesmore revenue per impression served than non-targeted impressions Onlineadswithbehaviouraltargetinghada70%higherclick-throughrate

    This campaign also won the US 2010 Creative Media Award for the Performance Media & Marketing category.

    TARGETING GENERATED MORE REVENUE

    MEDIACOM | BLINK #4 18

  • OPPORTUNITY/PROBLEM: EA had a huge amount of data on people playing EAs FIFA franchise but werent doing anything with it.

    INSIGHTS: 14 billion minutes of playing data told EA what people are doing within the game but not what would bring more people into the franchise. We convinced EA that if we created a YouTube channel for all their football content, the combination of internal telemetry and external YouTube behavioural data would be powerful enough to change the way they did business for good.

    STRATEGY: For the first time we persuaded EA to launch the FIFA AV ad on YouTube and Facebook rather than on TV. This gave us data on 380.000 individuals, data that changed the way we approached planning in future.

    MAKING IT HAPPEN: Data changed our approach in four ways:

    CONTEXT: Distributing content and flighting media to coincide with engagement cycles, peaking on Sundays and in August.

    CONTENT: More people engaged with tips and tricks so we developed bespoke coaching advice videos that delivered 1,5 million views in a week.

    COMMERCIAL: Reworking EAs club agreements to get the most engaging content.

    MOBILE: Prompted exploration from EA to deliver the mobile game for free, as the data can prove more valuable than any loss in income.

    RESULTS: We delivered the best-selling sports video game of all time. And now EA need never use industry standard planning tools again.

    SMART USE OF DATA GAVEEA THE BEST SELLING SPORTS VIDEO EVER

    BY PUTTING SMART USE OF DATA AT THE HEART OF OUR PLANNING, WE CHANGED EAS COMMUNICATIONS AND BUSINESS MODEL AND CREATED THE MOST POPULAR SPORTS GAME IN HISTORY.

    CONTENTCASES

    19BLINK #4 | MEDIACOM

  • CONTENTHACKING THE MEME CODE

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    20 MEDIACOM | BLINK #4

  • THE SOCIAL NETWORK TIMELINE IS, IN EFFECT, A PERSONAL NEWSPAPER. OUR FRIENDS POSTS ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER OR GOOGLE+ TELL US WHATS HAPPENING IN THEIR WORLDS. BUT LIKE EVERY GREAT NEWSPAPER, THE TIMELINE ALSO LINKS US TO OTHER INFORMATION, NEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT THAT WE MIGHT LIKE.

    BY JOERG BLUMTRITT, MEDIACOM GERMANY

    It is often said that our timeline is, in fact, a filter. We see only what our community of selected friends post. If someone posts things on social networks that we are not interested in, we will unfollow or uncircle him or her sooner or later depending on our mood, on the strength of our relationship and the netiquette, the rules of courtesy in social media that everyone has to obey to remain an accepted member.

    Advertising, in particular, seems to be content that only very rarely passes through this filter, if at all. Just as we would in our meatspace communities, we try to avoid people pushing unwarranted business towards us. Thus, the timeline might be the toughest spam-filter there is.

    This phenomenon of a highly sophisti-cated algorithm combined with a social prediction engine has been named the

    HACKING THE MEME CODE

    filter bubble by author and entrepreneur Eli Pariser. The word bubble in this case has a thoroughly ambivalent meaning: a bubble that surrounds us, in which we are somehow trapped, because we no longer see the reality outside clearly; the second meaning of course is that of a soap bubble that will burst sooner or later like any other piece of online hype. There is concern that this bubble could not only diminish the quality of serendipity inherent in networks such as the internet, but also the ability of advertisers to reach new audiences.

    THE RISE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE CHANGES FOR MASS MEDIAThe rise of social media has been accompanied by the decline of mass media. Although it is undisputed that the 30 TV spot is still the most effective means of advertising and is likely to remain that way for a long time, it is becoming harder and

    hearder to reach some audiences through the classic communication channels.

    Advertising is perhaps more sensitive to this development than any other form of communication. However, it also becomes increasingly difficult to reach out to audiences, be it for advertising, political announcements or any other kind of communication. This filter bubble process will add a new dimension to the rising complexity of communications planning that we have to take into consideration.

    Social media platforms provide multiple technological means to make this filter-process even more seamless, effective and invisible to their users. By organising our contacts into groups, lists or circles, users are encouraged to (re)create hierarchies of relevance (inner circle, extended circle, nuisance circle, spam). Thus content posted by someone from the buddies IL

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  • circle might get a totally different amount of attention compared to content from someone in the business partners or opinion leaders circle.

    MY INTERNET DOES NOT LOOK THE SAME WAY YOURS DOESA third layer after the timeline and the circles between the user and outside reality is created by Google and other search engines that use the selections made by users in their social media profiles (time-line, circles) as input for their algorithms to provide the most relevant results for our queries. These technologies take content posted by our friends to predict what would be relevant for us.

    We can no longer expect to be shown any kind of objective search ranking, instead we will get our very own list of results that might be completely different from that of our colleagues or neighbours. Google translates this into what it thinks we would find relevant. This will heavily

    impact Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). How will searchmarketing specialists in the future be able to guarantee that youll get a top-10 search ranking? For SEO purposes it will thus also become important to see the URLs of websites we want to promote recommended as often as possible by being posted or tweeted.

    The targeting of display ads can be improved in the same way. This is, of course, a good thing at first, since cam-paigns will perform more efficiently and the user will experience more relevant advertising. But, at the same time, the inventory that addresses a broad audi-ence, maximising reach - a prerequisite in building brand awareness - becomes more fragmented.

    Thus social media works as a filter, induced by the user, but also selects what the user gets recommended by search engines and display advertising. Very few platforms allow users to access and

    edit the predicted preferences of these algorithms in the way that Google, for example, does on http://www.google.com/ads/preferences. This might become more common following the EU Privacy Directive that became effective in May this year and will be implemented in national legislation soon.

    Finally, the media consumption of the classic channels is also affected by the filter bubble. Studies have shown that nothing influences a consumers choice more heavily than the recommendation they get through their timeline, which thereby becomes a screen that might preselect what someone would watch or read. Its not only media consumption our brand prefer-ences also start to be affected by the posts from our community to our circles, friends and our timeline.

    MEANINGFUL BRANDSOne side effect is that the meaning of brands in peoples lives changes. With

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  • mass media advertising, the most valuable brands would have been those that gave their buyers a sense of prestige. Conspicuous consumption is based on mass communication. It requires that others easily recognise what brands we buy.

    When the process of building brand preferences gets somehow atomised, as we experience when enclosed within our

    filter bubbles, others may no longer notice the significance of our brand-choices. At the same time, it becomes increasingly important to show affiliation to your community, to get acceptance and to be welcomed as a member.

    Brands that contribute something of value to a community, something that not only the buyer but the whole community can benefit from, will be the brands that succeed. They will be more likely to show up in their buyers posts, telling their friends, look, I care about all of you.

    THE MEMESo far we have been mostly looking at what gets filtered out. But what about the

    content that does make it inside our filter? Since most users follow more people than they know in person, there must be something that gets through.

    Umair Haque, a writer for the Harvard

    Business Review, has coined the term meaningful brands in opposition to the more conventional aspirational brands that we previously bought into.

    With the meaningful brands we have a first hint of how advertising within the filter-bubble might still work. Apart from that, and in addition to the obvious - the personal statements, the thoughts, and emotions that people share with their

    followers - there is a specific type of content that gets propagated from one personal circle to the next, that is repeat-edly shared, retweeted, liked or whatever 4form of handling a certain platform might provide.

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    THE FILTER BUBBLE WILL ADD A NEW DIMENSION TO THE RISING COMPLEXITY OF COMMUNICATIONS PLANNING THAT WE HAVE TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION

    23BLINK #4 | MEDIACOM

  • Joerg Blumtritt (*1970) is managing director at MediaCom Germany.

    After his graduation in statistics and political sciences he started work-ing as a researcher in behavioural sciences, focused on nonverbal communication. Projects were funded by EU Commission, German federal government and the Max-Planck-Society. Subsequently he ran marketing and research teams for TV-channels ProSiebenSat.1, RTL II and magazine publisher Hubert Burda Media, introducing new quali-tative methods like Netnography (< interNET ethNOGRAPHY) into media research. As European Operations Officer at Tremor Media, Joerg was in charge of building the New York-based video ad-networks European Enterprises.

    He is founder and chairman of the German Social Media Association (AG Social Media) and is co-author of the Slow Media Manifesto.

    JOERG BLUMTRITT

    You probably know what I am talking about when I mention these viral ideas: LOLCats, dramatic chipmunk, Nyan Cat, Sad Keanu, Goatse and Pedobar. Viral ideas and images like this can be described as memes. But more often, memes consist of more mundane images, such as pictures of food or birds that spread across the web.

    Meme is an artificial word. It was created in behavioural biology to describe the way cultural ideas, symbols and practices get passed from one generation to the next. These ideas can self-replicate and adapt to a changing environment in the same way that genes do through the standard model of biological evolution. The meme is hence seen to be the cultural equivalent of the gene.

    There are different types of memes, depending on their way they propagate. Some get spread very rapidly, globally and evenly. Others are shared only in their own community which needs not to have been defined otherwise; these images just tend to stop at some invisible border. Some images seem to virtually infect one community and then, after some time, jump over to the next, creating bubble-like structures in the social web, while others fade away proportionally to the distance of their point of origin.

    Before joining MediaCom, I did research with my long-time associate Benedikt Koehler, now COO of Ethority, to find out why some images and ideas had the power to become memetic. Even more interest-ing, we aimed to work out a way to brief creative people how to shape an image for a certain memetic task. So we set about hacking the meme code.

    The results will soon be published. And of course we will deploy our findings to create campaigns that are seen to be valuable and meaningful, or at least entertaining for our clients target audiences. ILL

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    Joerg blogs under slow-media.net and can be followed on twitter.com/jbenno

    The vertices represent the shared images, edges connect images posted by the same user.

    The left graph shows a set of images that get propagated with almost equal probability

    in the supporting community, the right graph shows an image that made its path into two

    separate communities before spreading further.

    Two examples of how memetic images are shared within communities

    24 MEDIACOM | BLINK #4

  • CONTENTHACKING THE MEME CODE

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  • CONTENTTHE DATA WARS

    BY DANIEL NYE GRIFFITHS

    An often-repeated statistic reveals that the human race created 5 exabytes (5 billion gigabytes) of data between the dawn of time and 2003. Its now generating the same amount every two days.

    The numbers are open to question, but the broad thrust is clear: we are creating a mind-mangling amount of data. Data that can be mined for meaning and value extracted.

    Customer information has always had an intrinsic and an extrinsic value. The intrinsic value lies in understanding customers better, and being able to provide better products and offers as a result.

    The extrinsic value is sometimes in selling databases of customer information although this is generally unpopular with customers and raises privacy issues and in increasing the accuracy and thus the value of advertising opportunities.

    As the web increased in popularity and usage, brands and media companies used their web presences to gather information and recruit subscribers. However, web-native companies companies built on and for the internet arose and began to outperform the old guard.

    THE RISE OF THE DATA BARONSThe Bulgarian politician and consumer representative Meglena Kuneva called personal data the oil of the internet. Some companies, either as an objective or consequence of their business models, have established themselves as current or potential data barons.

    Facebook is often the focus of bitter disputes around data and privacy issues. This matters because of Facebooks sheer size: it has reached 800 million members and nothing seems likely to keep it from ten figures. Recently, 500 million people logged into Facebook in the course of a single day.

    The majority of Facebooks revenue now comes from advertising - in 2010 an estimated $1,86 billion, with estimates for the full year in 2011 up to $3,80 billion. The reason Facebook is raking in so much ad revenue? Because buying the ads is the only way to profit from Facebooks vast store of customer data; you specify your target audience and they deliver the ads to readers who fit the demographic profile.

    Amazon has always had a clear reason to gather customer information; the more information they have on the kinds of products buyers of product x also

    WHO CONTROLS INFORMATION ABOUT WHERE CONSUMERS GO ONLINE AND WHAT THEY DO THERE? TAKE A WALK IN THE NEW WALLED GARDENS OF THE INTERNET.

    buy, or look at, the better the personal recommendations they can offer. As the company has evolved from an internet bookstore to a hypertext hypermarket and now to selling devices on which to consume media from its own data centres, its needs have grown. Amazon now adds enough server capacity every day to contain the global infrastructure created in the first five years of its life. The amount of customer data it generates has grown apace.

    With the introduction of the Kindle Fire opens an interesting new element to the way data flows through Amazons servers. To compensate for the slow processor of this media-focused tablet, Amazon plans to use its own cloud computing resources to cut up the meat of websites before serving them to the tablet compressing content to an appropriate quality level.

    In practical terms, the page request will be made by Amazons cloud and then routed to the device from there, meaning that even if the data is aggregated and stored anonymously it could theoretically be used to improve associations and even to deliver targeted advertising for Amazon products or third parties on the page that arrives on the users screen.

    THE DATA WARS

    26 MEDIACOM | BLINK #4

  • US Congressman Edward Markey has written to Amazon asking for clarification of what information the Fires browser will collect and how it will be used. As is often the case, there is a balance between deliver-ing an improved service and maintaining privacy and confidentiality.

    When it comes to owning the screen, its impossible to miss Apple. In June 2011, the iTunes store had 225 million accounts with credit cards attached. In common with Amazon and Facebook, a key element of these accounts is that they are provid-

    ing personally identifiable information, tied not just to music purchases but phone apps, movies and increasingly media through the App Store.

    With the Newsstand service in iOS 5, Apple has raised its game, aggregating magazines into one place rather than hosting multiple apps, increasing the convenience for brows-ers and, the argument goes, the sales for content providers. But there is a price to pay not just a 30% cut, but the loss of customer data, which without an option click is kept in their Apple account.

    A cynic might point out that this makes the publisher a content provider, with Apple owning the relationship.

    WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?Unusual situations lead to strange bedfel-lows. Google, which until it took steps to hamper searches for file sharing at the start of this year was regularly attacked for facilitating the death of the traditional media, has emerged as a possible ally for publishers.

    In France, several news publishers have united to sell their iPad and iPhone content through epresse.fr, an app outside Apples Newsstand. Obviously it will be left out of what will presumably be the first port of call for magazines on iOS 5 devices, and from the benefits of tight integration with the OS. Instead they plan to expand the platform to other devices and to the web.

    The web could, ultimately, play a larger role. Web apps - mobile apps that route out to mobile websites instead of working natively on the phone or tablet - are often derided for their lack of offline function and one-size-fits-all structure. However, HTML5 still in development, but supported piecemeal on mobile devices adds several elements to make the experience more app-like, including, vitally, offline storage. The Financial Times, with the advantage of a well-known brand, is a notable early

    adopter, directing readers to app.ft.com rather than the Apple App Store and thus avoiding the App Stores regulations.

    LOYALTY PROGRAMMESApps, native or otherwise, are not the only option for companies looking for enhanced consumer understanding, of course.

    Traditional consortium loyalty schemes such as Nectar have been doing many of the same things as Facebook and the like. Based in Britain, Nectar cards can be used to earn and redeem loyalty points for purchases

    across a number of high street and online retailers, providing material for profiled data analysis.

    The sample numbers may not be as great on a global scale, but for brands looking for analysis in specific target regions this may be a benefit. Loyalty programmes offer a clear benefit to consumers in exchange for information just as Facebook effectively rewards users for their data by providing a social network.

    Ultimately, brands and media producers in the physical world need to deduce what will persuade customers to share their data, match the methods of the technology platforms and make smart alliances to approach their scale.

    The chances of replacing or forcing open tech platforms do not look great, ultimately. Once established, a dominant player like Facebook (in social networks) or Apple (in mobile media) can usually only be swayed by concerted, unified industry action or by legislation which will usually seek to limit rather than facilitate the sharing of customer data. There are, however, some advantages to this situation.

    The technology and media sectors are full of frenemies companies that are simultaneously rivals and partners. The frenemy model might apply to these data

    aggregators as well. Their position at the head of the river may mean that they collect huge amounts of data, but it also mean that they have the resources to store, manage and analyse it to the point where its use for targeting on behalf of advertisers becomes a salable asset.

    The walled gardens, in this light, are more like the gardens of stately homes than feudal castles. You have to pay to get access, and you cannot take anything away, but, nonetheless, you are glad that someone else is pruning the hedges.

    THERE IS A BALANCE BETWEEN DELIVERING AN IMPROVED SERVICE AND MAINTAINING PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY

    27BLINK #4 | MEDIACOM

  • M:FILESTHE POWER OF EMPATHY

    BY SUE UNERMAN, CSO, MEDIACOM UK

    THE POWER OFEMPATHY

    MEDIACOM | BLINK #4 28

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    There is lots and lots of data available to analyse path to purchase and give us a microscopic look at digital media behaviour. We now know more than ever about the consumers decision-making process from studies by marketing research companies and Google Analytics. But none of the information that we can get from any of these sources can replace the power of empathy.

    At MediaCom London we have been encouraging every planner to put down the data and walk a mile or two in the target markets shoes. Funnily enough for some of us who have been working at MediaCom for a while, or in my case at the company MediaCom acquired at the turn of the last century, The Media Business, this is real back-to-our-roots stuff.

    Before we had the resource and budgets to buy all the exciting research that we do now, we had no alternative but to go out and find out about real consumer behaviour for ourselves. In fact, one of the first things Nick Lawson now our EMEA CEO did when he first joined the company a couple of decades ago was go out to Euston Station in London and ask rush-hour commuters about early evening drinking (I should point out that this was for a pitch for a wine company not because he was looking for someone to go to the pub with!)

    However, as the UK office grew in size, acquired more data and, dare I say, more professional expertise, we noticed that our planners were turning to our brilliant Real World Insight team for consumer understanding. It worked very well but it also tended to mean that the planners were outsourcing insight rather than trying to empathise with what their target audiences were feeling.

    Back in 2008 we were discussing how to cope with this situation both the frequent bottleneck caused by resources and the sense that there was sometimes lack of emotional insight from some of the planning teams when our strategy head Steve Gladdis came up with a brilliant solution: Method Insight.

    He suggested that we free the planners from their desks and the tyranny of too much data and send them out to experience the consumer journey in person. So with a bit of guidance from Pauline Robson, head of Real World Insight, the planners set

    off to find out what really made the consumer tick. This is now mandatory on every client brief. We believe passionately that no great strategy comes without great consumer insight, and for truly great consumer insight Method Insight is a must.

    And its incredibly simple to do. Our planners for Mller have spent time lurking in the chilled food sections of supermarkets, our planners for Met Police have been to hairdressers in Brixton and our planners for holiday firm TUI spent a day meeting holiday-makers at Gatwick.

    One outstanding example was when Nicola Jopling spent an evening with her sisters National Childcare Trust group to understand how to sell baby monitors to pregnant mums. Nicola, who is single and has no plans to become personally involved in pregnancy, neverthe-less immersed herself in the group and picked up lots of great insights. Those insights helped her persuade the client to ditch the existing strategy, which involved daytime TV and parenting magazines.

    She was convinced that the true target market for Tomys new baby monitor, which had a very premium price and substantial technical superiority over its competition, was not the broad mum audience that standard research measured. Instead, she wanted to go for upmarket pregnant opinion forming mums to be... not an audience easily measured by standard industry research.

    This upmarket target audience worked and therefore didnt watch daytime TV. On top of that they found mother and baby magazines patronising. Instead they were hugely swayed by what a few years ago was still a newish trend... blogs by mums online. The new strategy involved winning over these bloggers by publishing their top tips for new mums in a leaflet that was then distributed via exhibitions, in-store and promoted by the bloggers themselves. And, of course, it promoted the Tomy monitor.

    It was an unusual solution that proved to be a huge success. And it was all because of Method Insight.

    Sue Unermans new book, Tell The Truth, which includes a fuller case study of the Tomy baby monitor, is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

    AT MEDIACOM WE PUT CONSUMERS AT THE HEART OF OUR PLANNING. AND TO REALLY UNDERSTAND THEM YOU HAVE TO WALK IN THE SHOES OF THE END-CONSUMER. WE CALL IT METHOD INSIGHT. THIS IS A PERSONAL STORY OF HOW METHOD INSIGHT BEGAN IN THE UK AND HAS BECOME PART OF OUR WORK AROUND THE WORLD.

  • 30

    Advertisers are in a bind. Many fear they have too little to say to attract and hold consumer attention. In the past they could rely on traditional media own-ers to reach consumers. By advertising in commercial breaks around the edges of content they could take advantage of the audience that shows had aggregated.

    Fragmentation has meant consumers are gathering in big numbers less and less and that the cost of taking advantage of the aggregation ability of others has become ever higher. The internet is the great disin-termediator, connecting everything to everything, but this direct connection comes with a cost. Brands with little to say do not attract any attention in a world where communications are spread by consumer networks rather than broadcast ones.

    However, the challenge isnt simply about distribu-tion, its also about the means of production. Until very recently, the ability to make something public, to publish, to a mass audience, was a privileged act. The powers that be historically outlawed the ability to disseminate information unlicensed printing presses were illegal, as they still are under certain modern regimes, such as in Malaysia under the Printing Presses and Publications Act of 1984. When the age of mass media arrived, only governments, the

    media industrial complex and the advertising industry were able to create and distribute culture. So when you saw such elements of culture, you couldnt help but be impressed.

    The exponential impact of Moores Law means that the computing power of a bespoke Silicon Graphics workstation, as used to create the special effects for Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park, can now be easily approximated on a consumer laptop. Digital techno-logy has given every consumer the power to create content. The monetary power of brands no longer buys them uniqueness. We can all make films, we can all create web pages and we can all record our own music. The magic that exclusive access to this technology used to deliver has evaporated.

    Content producers the role traditionally taken by ad agencies in the marketing industry no longer have exclusive access to the magic that is content creation. That isnt to say the quality of consumer-generated content [a tellingly oxymoronic term] is on par with Hollywood production. Rather, the gap between not being able to do something and being able to do it is infinite, but the gap between being bad and excellent is simply one of degree. Its hard to be amazed with any technical wizardry on film when you grow up

    HOW CAN BRANDS EARN TIME IN CONSUMERS LIVES? INNOVATOR FARIS YAKOB EXPLAINS HOW SCALE, EMPOWERMENT AND TECHNOLOGY CAN STILL DELIVER.

    BY FARIS YAKOB

    CONTENT FINDING NEW MAGIC

    FINDIN G NEW MAGIC

    30 MEDIACOM | BLINK #4

  • with iMovie at your fingertips. But all is not doom and gloom for smart brands. They still have strategic advantages in the eternal quest for consumer atten-tion: technology and scale.

    Technology provides a canvas that is yet to be effectively colonised by the amateur and, as Arthur C. Clarke famously pointed out, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Thus, technology provides a medium to amaze and cut through the clutter of content.

    Because technology companies often tout their latest tools to brands and media owners to help drive uptake, brands have first user advantages.

    The Pepsi TEN project is an explicit manifestation of this advantage. The consumer packaged goods giant established a venture fund to support and partner with early stage technology start-ups in order to

    exclusively leverage the technologies for marketing. The problem with the blurring of the technology and the communications industries, however, is that they are divided by a common language. Words that should mean the same thing often mean something com-pletely different to those on either side of the divide.

    Take a simple word like platform. To a communica-tions specialist it means an idea or theme that all messages fit into, but to a technology expert it means an underlying technology that enables other products

    or services to be built on it. This means that collabo-ration among disciplines can seem to be aligned when it isnt. At the extreme, creative directors trained in writing or graphic design find themselves being asked to review algorithms they cant understand, as code becomes a creative deliverable.

    IN THE AGE OF THE EMPOWERED CONSUMER, BRANDS NEED TO IDENTIFY WHAT THEY CAN DO THAT CONSUMERS CANNOT, HOW THEY CAN ADD SOMETHING TO THEIR LIVES

    31BLINK #4 | MEDIACOM

  • 32 MEDIACOM | BLINK #3 32 MEDIACOM | BLINK #3

    CONTENT FINDING NEW MAGIC

    For brands to take advantage of technology and their first-access rights to new develop-ments, they and their agents need to develop common understanding. Often it is the role of the strategist to translate business language into creative inspiration. Increasingly additional translations are necessary, evinced by the formation of new agency roles, reverse mentoring, and management training from groups like HyperIsland.

    BRANDS DELIVER SCALEThe other area where brands still have an advantage over empowered consumers is their ability to deliver scale. Ironically this is often most powerful when delivered in traditional media environments. Digital channels may now deliver massive reach but the almost infinite nature of the web means it can lack the cultural impact of TV and the associated media that reports on it. Fragmentation leads to the counter intuitive fact that things can be incredibly popular on the internet and yet you may never hear about it.

    Scale can be delivered in terms of audience. Doritos Crash the Superbowl campaign is

    an old example but it classically leverages the consumers ability to make films and incentivises them to participate with the opportunity to see their ad in the biggest TV event of the year.

    Scale can be delivered via access. For all their digital tools, tablets and laptops wont get you close to the big stars, although Twitter disrupts even this advantage. Brands can leverage their corporate might to provide access to things that an individuals money cant buy. Coca-Cola experimented with an example of this when they sponsored a live, online 24-hour recording session with the band Maroon 5. The band composed and recorded a track, aided by feedback and suggestions from people online in real time.

    Scale can also deliver empowerment. Pepsi Refresh is an unconventional example that allows consumers to get behind their favorite local group. Scale enabled them to gain access to funds that made a real difference to the causes their consumers cared about and as a result the campaign has been spread via their networks.

    In the age of the empowered consumer, brands need to identify what they can do that consumers cannot, how they can add something to their lives.

    Technology may be part of the answer, if brands and technologists can learn to speak the same language, but it could also be via the appropriate application of scale that gives consumers something that even the latest laptop, tablet or mobile cannot offer. The scale and complexity of multi-platform content presents an novel twist on the traditional competency if brands can effective harness transmedia storytelling, we may find a kind of content that consum-ers once again think of as magical.

    @fariswww.farisyakob.com

    Faris Yakob is Chief Innovation Officer at MDC Partners kbs+ and co-founder of creative technology shop Spies&Assassins. Blink is just one of the ways in which MediaCom addresses the issues that matters to marketers.

    In addition to Blink, MediaCom also produces a point-of-view newsletter, a webcast with a panel of prominent speakers and a white paper. Everything on the same topic for an in-depth perspective and for actionable recommendations for every marketer to apply.

    For issues thatmatter to marketers

    NEWSLETTERBLINK WHITE PAPERWEBCAST

    Click on The Insider in the News & Insights section

    Sign up today for the full range of MediaComs communications

    OR Visitmediacom.com

    Scan the QR code (with e.g. scanlife) to go direct to the sign-up page.

    TECHNOLOGY PROVIDES A MEDIUM TO AMAZE AND CUT THROUGH THE CLUTTER OF CONTENT

    MEDIACOM | BLINK #4 32

  • Blink is just one of the ways in which MediaCom addresses the issues that matters to marketers.

    In addition to Blink, MediaCom also produces a point-of-view newsletter, a webcast with a panel of prominent speakers and a white paper. Everything on the same topic for an in-depth perspective and for actionable recommendations for every marketer to apply.

    For issues thatmatter to marketers

    NEWSLETTERBLINK WHITE PAPERWEBCAST

    Click on The Insider in the News & Insights section

    Sign up today for the full range of MediaComs communications

    OR Visitmediacom.com

    Scan the QR code (with e.g. scanlife) to go direct to the sign-up page.

  • How many of your staff can interact with consumers?A All our staff are empowered to tweet and post on social networks within clear guidelinesB We have an intern who tweets for usC The people who work in store do that for us

    When did you last create some content?A Weve got a rolling programme of content and eventsB We run an event once a year and then try to spin it out

    for as long as possibleC The ad agency posts our commercials on YouTube

    What are your customers really passionate about?A We know they love sports so we sponsor matches and give them the chance to meet their heroes.B We hope they are passionate about our products and servicesC I dont care as long as they buy my stuff

    Mostly As: Congratulations, you are a ready-for-action 2012 marketer. To stay up-to-date your focus should now be on content and possibilities of 4G mobile.

    Mostly Bs: You are a Millennium marketer. Youre moving in the right direction but still have a way to catch up. Real World Insights can help ensure that your communications keep up with the expectations of modern consumers.

    Mostly Cs. I know the 1980s are fashionable again but you can do much better. Its time to ditch the shoulder pads, get some sneakers and go online. Visit www.google.com or any other search engine and type MediaCom. Call your local office and wed be happy to help you become a marketer of the future.

    HOW CLOSE IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

    When was the last time your brand conducted a social media listening study?A In the last three monthsB In the last six monthsC Never

    Have you optimised your website for mobile?A Yes, for Android and AppleB I think soC What website?

    How much do you know about your most profitable consumers?A We hold regular, exclusive events for our biggest spendersB I think they like us on FacebookC We have their credit card details

    What incentives do you offer consumers to join your digital community?A Money off vouchers, bespoke content and invites to

    meet the team eventsB Money off dealsC Business is about commerce not community

    Can customers return online purchases in-store?A Of course and we give them a voucher for free

    postage next timeB No, its too difficult for our internal IT system to tie the

    two togetherC All online sales go through affiliates

    What media channel is the most important for reaching your target audience?A They all work together and are planned as wholeB Online spend has just hit 10% but TV is still the strongest mediumC We plan our TV and then see what money we have left

    BRANDS NEED TO BE CLOSER THAN EVER TO THEIR CONSUMERS, BUT ARE WE TAKING ALL POSSIBLE STEPS TO UNDERSTAND, INTERACT AND ENGAGE? ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS TO FIND OUT IF YOUR BRAND COMMUNICATIONS ARE FIT FOR PURPOSE.

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  • 36 MEDIACOM | BLINK #4

    STEPHEN BENSON: Innovation Exchange is an online global innovation network that helps Fortune 500 companies solve their innovation challenges in the broad business areas of product development, marketing, sales, operations, designs, supply chain and research. We do it by tapping into that collective intelligence and resources of a proprietary network global community of innovators and we believe that it is our understanding of the physics and the psycho-logy of online communities that makes us successful. We make sure that the right people collaborate and with the right virtual teams on the right projects for the optimal results for our clients.

    The Innovation Exchange platform is designed to govern the process and create a community that becomes more productive the more that it is engaged with, and a community where people network and learn from each other too.

    We built this business model because we have a firm belief that sustained innovation is no longer

    about who has the most gifted employees because we all know you can never have enough and it is not about who has the best equipped Research and Development labs because lots of companies have those and lots of companies have failed. It is more about who has access to the most compelling innovation community and that just does not mean your customers and it just doesnt mean one or two strategic suppliers.

    We believe it is a global community of resources and people that you need to have access to and so weve established the Innovation Exchange as a source for that whole process.

    CHRISTIAN GODSKE: Crowdsourcing is noth-ing new and we have seen some great cases like Wikipedia and even commercially focused ones, like Dell Ideastorm. But why does it stay relevant?

    SB: The actual concept of reaching out to people for solutions has been around since the 1700s. In

    STEPHEN BENSON IS AN EXPERT IN CROWDSOURCING AND HAS DEVELOPED A BUSINESS MODEL THAT INCLUDES A STRONG SOCIAL ELEMENT. IN THIS INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTIAN GODSKE HE EXPLAINS WHY CROWDSOURCING IS SUCH A POWERFUL TOOL.

    A CROWDED PLACE

    Christian Godske is Head of Digital at MediaCom Denmark. One of his professional milestones was when, as EME