We live in a world driven by data and although we probably don’t even understand half of it or don’t even bother to look into it as we should, decisions aren’t taken unless they can be fully rationalized. As Rishad Tobaccowala mentioned in a recent post:
“In marketing we worship the algorithm and its superiority to human decision making.”
He makes a good point. He continues with:
“In the world of media we are so fixated on the plumbing of finding the right person at the right place at the right time that we forget that the interaction we deliver will have to be absolutely right and brilliant not to piss of this superbly well located person at the exact right time. The better the “targeting”, the more important the tone, content and quality of the interaction. Lets think about the poetry versus just the plumbing.”
This reminded me of the conversation between Bill and Melinda Gates during this year’s TED event in Vancouver. Somewhere in this conversation – hosted by Chris Anderson – it’s clear that part of the magic between these 2 people in spending billions of dollars to charity is the mathematical approach of Bill Gates combined with the more tangible, human experience of Melinda with the people involved in the decision. Something they obviously recognize as a necessity in their decision making.
Interesting take on innovation and originality on aeon.com:
“… according to a cluster of like-minded researchers, we’ve misunderstood how innovation really works. Throughout human history, innovation – including the technological progress we cherish – has been fuelled and sustained by imitation. Copying is the mighty force that has allowed the human race to move from stone knives to remote-guided drones, from digging sticks to crops that manufacture their own pesticides. Plenty of animals can innovate, but no other species on earth can imitate with the skill and accuracy of a human being. We’re natural-born rip-off artists. To be human is to copy.”
Tom Goodwin wrote an interesting piece for The Guardian where he talks about how to reinvent the agency structure. No rocket science but I think it’s an interesting take on the the current ‘structure’ if there is one and at least it does away with the classic ad agency / digital agency split in a way that makes sense:
Visionary agencies would be a group of innovators, technologists, futurologists and business strategists; they’d spend their time focusing on activity two years ahead and beyond. Their scope would be to improve the products/services made, on branding, positioning, and on understanding the future of marketing.
Brand agencies would be the closest agency to what we consider advertising today. A mixture of talent across all current agencies, to include PR, and some retail and talent from all new technologies, their job would be to build brands and classic upper-funnel activity. Their time horizon would be three months to two years. These are artists that design and shape the brand, and then produce ads and marketing to tell that story, and build brand equity.
Performance agencies would focus on the next two months. Their scope would be to understand how to tweak marketing and communication tactics, how to use automation, clever SEO, retail out-of-home advertising, flow advertising, creative optimisation, real-time marketing, short term PR, promotions at retail and many other tools to perfect the conversion of equity into sales, or in other words, largely lower-funnel activity.
Pat Fallon shares his thoughts on how to get your clients to take creative risks:
“Taking risks is part of our business. One key to persuading clients to take a risk is tightly aligning strategy with the creative approach. Although some observers think advertising comes down to crazy people sitting in a room brainstorming, strategy is the rigorous, behind-the-scenes part of our process—it’s driven by research and consumer insights, and it helps to precisely define what the company is trying to accomplish with a campaign, who the campaign is meant to reach, and why it’s going to trigger a specific response that drives sales. An idea that may seem risky during a presentation will look less so when it’s clear that we’ve thought it through. The client realizes, “These guys understand my business. They understand the flow of money. They are putting my success at the forefront of decisions.” That creates enough trust for the client to say, “OK, I’m going to hold my breath, hold my nose, and jump into the water with you.””
In one of the best talks at this year’s TED Conference in Vancouver, Joi Ito (Director of MIT Media Lab) said the following:
The idea is that the cost of writing a plan or mapping something is getting so expensive and it’s not very accurate or useful. So in the Safecast story, we knew we needed to collect data, we knew we wanted to publish the data, and instead of trying to come up with the exact plan, we first said, oh, let’s get Geiger counters. Oh, they’ve run out. Let’s build them. There aren’t enough sensors. Okay, then we can make a mobile Geiger counter. We can drive around. We can get volunteers. We don’t have enough money. Let’s Kickstarter it. We could not have planned this whole thing, but by having a very strong compass, we eventually got to where we were going, and to me it’s very similar to agile software development, but this idea of compasses is very important.
As you might have ready I started with a new email newsletter called WARPED in which I curate some of the best ideas, data, trends and other awesomeness I came across the last week on the worldwide interwebs. You can read #1, #2 in the archive and #3 will arrive tomorrow – and if you like it sign up you can do so here.
The choice to do this in an email was simple. I can more easily share things than I can on this blog and it has a longer lifetime than links shared on Twitter. The decision to actually go with the email format was inspired by some other folks that have their own newsletters – and yes that you should all subscribe to.
A few weeks ago I did a talk about the ‘Rebirth of Advertising‘ at TEDxLiege. Rebirth was the theme of the TEDx event that day and I wanted to bring a story that proves it is actually a great time to be in advertising today. That is if you don’t think about advertising as the intrusive, obnoxious thing that interrupts interesting experiences. Here’s how I define advertising:
“Advertising should be about enabling stories to be told. Whether those are brand stories, product stories, consumer stories, … Why would I listen to anyone if it they don’t have something interesting to say?”
Also when I started developing the talk I wanted it to have no advertising in it, I wanted it to excite people about a business I am excited about without showing entertaining work. You can see the 18′ talk in the video below.
Thanks to the team at Duval Guillaume for trying to push the boundaries of advertising every single day and special thanks to Mike Arauz (Undercurrent) whose thinking influenced me quite a bit lately. Thanks Mike!
This internet thing has been one gigantic playground for me pretty much since the first day I got sucked into it sometime in 1997. Whether it was the projects and experiments that I could do for the different employers, the evolution of digital on its own and my own personal experimentations (such as this blog in 2005) the internet never stops to amaze me. Today I started out something new – although it’s kinda old. I’ve just sent out the first edition of WARPED, an email newsletter I will be sending out from now on on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. It felt like I needed a way to share interesting information, insights, ideas, … found around the internet to those interested in a way that is in between what this blog allows me to do on the one hand and sharing things on Twitter on the other. Hence the creation of WARPED.
I found this video from the interactive prototype Room-E on the 72U project blog. It’s a prototype showing what will be possible in the near future when you think about a more responsive environment.
“The future of the computer is to essentially make it disappear—a disconnected interface, so the house or the office or the building or the city is the computer.” —Mark Rolston, Chief Creative Officer, frog
The first question our strategy interns will ask when they start here will almost always be: “what makes a good strategist?”. There are many answers to give to this question but I will only give one: be curious. I am convinced that this is the first and most important quality a good strategist must have, that’s where it starts.
“What I’d impart to you is the significance of the second trait: a relish or hunger to find out new intelligence. To achieve this trait — and I think it’s something you have to work at (or at least I do) — you will necessarily adopt an interested posture. We can, and must, build practices of curiosity.
To practice curiosity is to, necessarily, seek out the messy (and occasionally amorphous) perspectives of others. To be great at planning, or I’d posit at any pursuit charged with shaping things for people, requires both that we embrace and develop a profound respect for people who are not like us.
Please don’t forget that people are messy. It’s what makes us (including you) interesting, and what makes it incredibly difficult to design one-size-fits-all solutions (or communications).”
So go out and be curious. Seek out the messy. Find new grounds to explore. Always keep asking questions. Every answer should lead to a new question. That’s what makes it all interesting, that’s how you get to new and fresh ideas.
Or as Dorothy Parker said:
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”