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Posts from May 2006

Stealth Consumers


My mate Ben and I had an article in the Financial Times last Friday about 'cyberstealth' marketing techniques and the rise of the stealth consumer.

I like the idea of stealth consumers - they seem the logical counterpoint to the escalation of marketing warfare, whether carpet bombing or guerilla - hiding from brands, empowering themselves with technology to make more informed decisions.

You can read it online here.

UPDATE: You need a login for to read the whole thing online so I've posted an image of the whole article as a pdf here.

Five on Friday

Revver is a new Youtube clone with one important difference - it has a profit sharing model. So revenue from all the advertising is shared with the content creators.

Floyd Hayes over at Cunning in NYC has just started using it to broadcast weekly five minute newscasts about creative communications.

You can check it out here.

The Dawning of the PVR Age

Thus far, PVR penetration in the UK has remained relatively low, driven almost entirely by the Sky Plus offering - standalone PVRs are rare.

This is about to change.

Freeview has moved over 8 million customers on to digital TV in two and a half year because they offer a digital TV solution for a one off purchase. They have just announced the Freeview Playback brand - designed to build awareness of digital video recorders and push adoption before the 2008 analogue switch off.

It launches in September. If they can deliver similar results in this market - the only barrier would be the price point and hardware costs are crashing - we could be seeing significant UK penetration by the end of next year.

Some estimates put PVR penetration at 30% by the end of the decade - which seems like a long way away but is only 3 and half years from now.

What if the passive massive stop being passive? Are we ready?

There is an even bigger question:  how will this technology overlap / interact with IPTV? Thinking about TV and the Internet as different channels makes no sense once you can access the same content via either.

The picture above is of the BBC Interactive Media Player [iMP]. When it is up and running it will allow users to legally download any BBC content using peer 2 peer technology, for consumption on any device.

From Time Shifted to On Demand.

And in an on demand world, there are no ad breaks, because no one demands them.

Luck is my middle name


A post over on Iain's Crackunit sent me on a web crawl for Howard Luck Gossage.

He was an ad man in the 50s, known as the 'Socrates of San Fransisco', and also advertising's staunchest critic.

Some of his observations about communication theory were so ahead of their time that they could have been written tomorrow.

He challenged billboards as urban spam:

First, what is the difference between seeing an ad on a billboard and seeing an ad in a magazine? The answer,  in a word,  is permission– or,  in three words,  freedom of choice.

Preempted Cluetrain:

An ad should ideally be like one end of an interesting conversation.

And the role of the account planner:

"Our first duty is not to the old sales curve, it is to the audience."

Learn more about the remarkable man and see some of his other work here.

YouTube Bigger than BBC


Youtube now receives more traffic than the BBC.

The BBC is nearly 100 years old and is funded by a mandatory television license paid by anyone owning a TV in the UK that amounts to almost £3bn annually.

Youtube launched in December 2005.

The BBC has come on leaps and bounds into the digital world as it attempts to justify its funding to the connected generation, but I think this is a telling development, at the very least about how fast things are changing.

Think what no one has yet thought


I've been working on a pitch this week and have spent a long time looking for nuggets of genius to steal - those beautiful little factlets that no one else knows that will show the whole thing in a different light and guide our way.

This is, of course,not the way to do it.

And, of course, I could have stolen that idea too - this time from the inimitable German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. [Why are so many philosophers German? And why do they all have such great hair?]

He was an interesting fellow - worth checking out the link - but for the following quote he should be the patron of all planners:

"The task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what no body yet has thought about that which everyone sees."

Brand cultures


I love Richard Huntington's Adliterate Aphorisms, particularly

10)Great brands create culture, weak brands copy it

The great brands function like myths in modern society,  providing narratives and ideas 'to live by', to steal from John Grant.

I recently read Mr Grant's new book - The Brand Innovation Manifesto - and I really like his new molecular model of brands as clusters of cultural ideas.

Brands are inherently complex, they can't be reduced down to single propositions: they are webs of associations. Russel Davies' touches upon a similar point when he talks about idea linking and embedding.

John Grant has a new site to accompany his new book and a brand new blog.

Real Time TV


Accenture have developed a prototype of what they call a "Real-Time  Television  Content Platform" - essentially a set top box that allows the broadcast stream to be altered dynamically as you watch.

By triggering the interactive mode you could engage with ads and programming in real time, for example changing the colour of the car in the ad as in the picture above.

The next time you see that ad, you would see it in your chosen colours.

Watch the video here.

This seems to be a hybrid that allows for narrowcasting within the existing broadcast model -  the personalisation happens at the set top box.

They say it brings the best of the web to television - personally I don't think that distinction will make sense when all television is broadcast over IP. Come fiber optics and gigabit bandwidth, will anyone choose to watch what is pumped out, rather than choosing the content they want to see?

But in the meantime, this seems like an interesting way to make broadcast content relevant to individual viewers.

P2P Movies


Warner Bros. just announced a deal to distribute their movie and telelvision content via the file sharing platform Bit Torrent.

Bit Torrent is the heir to the Napster crown, a distributed p2p platform that people all over the world use to download content. Its unique architecture means it can handle huge files and thus is great for film content [Bit Torrent transfers have been estimated to make up 1/3 of all internet traffic].

While this seems like the movie studio moving in the right direction, developing a legal alternative before their entire business model comes under threat, they are still locking the content into a digital rights management [DRM] solution.

I recently saw Cory Doctrow [of Boing Boing] speak about DRM. He makes a compelling argument that DRM is intrinsically bad for the consumer  - it turns technology into something that attempts to control its users.

Ultimately, honest users are the only ones affected by DRM, as they elect to buy the content. Pirates will never encounter the DRM in the first place. You can download the whole talk here.

The problem is that the studio is applying an anlogue model to the digital.  In the connected world Piracy is Good. Instead of thinking about selling content and restricting access, think of a free broadcast model, where consumers select content they want.

If an advertiser provided the official version of the content, to be shared, with a little logo instead of those channel idents you get on a broadcast stream, think of the eyeballs, without any distribution costs.

That's content sponsorship for the connected generation.

Is this Urban Spam?


I like Russel Davies' repositioning of ambient media as urban spam but when I saw this I started to wonder why it doesn't seem to fit into that category.

Is it because it isn't a marketing communication or is it because it is a local using a local space? Is there room then for local businesses to use local spaces without it feeling like spam?

Or is it just because it's about a missing kitten?