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Posts from October 2006

Who Steals from Death


According to the IAB, 87% of online sessions commence with a search.

The reason Google is as powerful as it is is because it delivers relevance - the Pagerank citation principle is a social filtering algorithm [Google has always been 2.0].

But it's not infallible.

Search data for TIGS provides an insight into what people are actually interested in and how they are getting here - I wonder what the person who found it via the above search term was actually looking for...

Google's value derives from all of us and our links.

So it'll be intereresting to see how the role of search engines will have to evolve should Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of HTML and the world wide web, ever realise his vision of the semantic web, sometimes called web 3.0 [uggh].

The semantic web project is designed to bring meaning to the internet - all documents would be tagged with relevant, machine readable meta data that would describe what they are. So information would begin to be self sorting - they describe this as a form of weak AI - and people would no longer arrive at TIGS looking for "who steals from death".

Which is a shame really. The flipside to increased relevance is less randomness.

And randomness takes you to places you would never have got to otherwise.

Like here

Latin American Bloggers!


My friend has just moved to Buenos Aires with work. As she's a planner, she wants to plug into culture down there and obviously one of the best ways of doing that is via the local blogs.

Anyone have any suggestions for Latin American planning / trend / advertising blogs?

Anyone out there write one?

The Internet is for Porn


Avenue Q is currently running at the Noel Coward theatre in London.

It's absolutely brilliant.

Heavily inspired by Sesame Street, it's a musical for/about twenty/thirty somethings, weaving together puppets, people and inspirational animations. The characters are all trying to negotiate being adults that, having had the world promised to them as children, come to realise that there are bills to pay and that "Everyone's a little bit racist".

Appropriately enough, as perhaps the first musical of remix culture it has inspired its own remixes: one of its big numbers, The Internet is for Porn, has nearly 300 different versions on Youtube.

Perfectly targeted at the generation that learnt about the world with the muppets, "it's just like your life - only funnier."    

Oh and Gary Coleman is the handyman.

Head down to Avenue Q. 

Shocking Amplification


I have of late - but wherefore I know not - lost all my mirth.

Shakespeare may have understood it and built it into Hamlet, but male depression is still a kind of forgotten problem. Like any aspect of culture, problems are either salient or they are not. Anorexia is highly salient, men's depression is not.

There are probably quite a lot of sociological reasons for why this is, to do with the visibility of the famished female form in the media and the perception that suffering silently is more manly. But as CALM point out, being silent isn't strong and occasionally we need to raise the profile of issues that otherwise get ignored, both to raise funds for the charities and to help address the problems themselves by normalising them.

Last week a poster by men's health charity CALM came under attack for being insensitive - it used the 7/7 bombings to highlight the fact the 3 men under 35 commit suicide every day in the UK. You can see the criticism and the poster here.

And I agree with Naresh that this parallel is insensitive to the victims and familes and anyone affected by the attack. He asks:

Which raises the question: why did they not do research to gauge how inflammatory the poster was going to be

But....isn't that the point? Isn't this supposed to be inflammatory? Isn't it supposed to invite debate? And, in pure communication terms, isn't this specifically designed to amplify the effect?

I didn't see the poster, but I did see the media coverage and because of that I had a look at the site, and came across this campaign they are running to get companies to donate £100 each to keep the consumer campaign going.

So now I'm going to see if I can't squeeze a ton out of my lot, and I'm posting about it here to encourage you to do the same. Without the media furore, none of this would have happened.

Charities have very small budgets. They HAVE to be thinking of ways they can amplify them.

I don't think we should be directly insulting to the memories of anyone...

[Note: although they ran an execution previously that compared the UK male suicide rate to the number of British soliders that have died in Iraq and no one batted an eyelid so I wonder who decides what's morally appropriate and wonder if perhaps it's the press simply leveraging the ongoing fear of terrorism to sell more papers rather than taking a moral stand but that's beside the point]

...but if it saves some lives by driving up the profile of a problem that has been thus far ignored and getting CALM some needed donations, then I would say O & M [who produced the ad] should be congratulated.

CALM website

Modal Dissonance


At the APG Battle, Marie Oldham from MPG spoke about the effect that time shifted viewing has on modal planning.

Modal planning was a big thing in media planning a few years ago, based on the insight that the cognitive mode the person is when they receive the message affects how communication is processed. So when you watch Friends on a Friday night, to use her anachronistic example, and see and a sponsorship ident, you are in Friday night entertain me mode I've forgotten to go out and don't want to think about it, and the style of the communication should be tailored accordingly.

Marie's nice [as in accurate] insight is that time shifted viewing chucks all this out the window. When you're watching Friends on Sunday morning off the PVR you are in Oh dear god my head hurts don't shout please I did remember to go out last night and I'm pretty sure I made a fool of myself mode. Thus the communication results in modal dissonance, [a term I've partially stolen from the idea of cognitive dissonance].

Of course, this has been the case since vcrs but there are new media habits emerging, like media bingeing, that alters this even further - watch 6 episodes back to back with the same idents and the irritation factor kicks in pretty quickly.

Marie's solution was similar to something we've spoken about before - an adserving model for television, combined with an idea that seems to be gaining currency all over the place: trading your personal information for more relevant advertising, which makes sense but feels slightly... uncomfortable.

BT's chief Futurologist, Ian Pearson, has suggested an alternative solution: ambient intelligence. When the devices we consume content via have a degree of intelligence, we can maintain the privacy of our data and still receive personalised, relevant, contextually tailored communication.

Urban spam is dead! Long live ambient intelligence!

UPDATE: You can see more of Marie's thoughts on this here.



The new Sony Bravia ad breaks tonight on television in the UK, but true to their word it has come out online first.

Rumour has it that the director, Jonathon Glazer, wasn't happy about it but ultimately they realised they had to reward the community that had generated such adticipation around this film.

And it is a lovely piece of film. There's a clown in it. He seems frightened. Not like that frog.

The man who walks through walls


Blek Le Rat, the French street artist who made stencil art his own while Banksy was a baby, opened his first show in a decade last night at the Leonard Street Gallery.

There are some great pieces, all new, that reflect the origins of stencil activist artwork, including  his classic Beggar. Worth checking out, especially if you have any interest in where Banksy got his groove on.

Beautifully, Blek has been out in Shoreditch, promoting his show with some new additions to the Hoxton canvas like the classic Sheep above - ambient advertising to promote a show by the guy who helped invent the idea of street art as art, which has been subsequently adopted by so many brands seeking credibility in their communications.

How many posts can you prefix modern with?

UPDATE: You can see more of Blek in action here.

Darth Strategist


Some really interesting thinking was performed yesterday. It was a great day and I want to tackle a few of the areas that were brought up in individual posts [although I've noticed whenever I say that I never seem to get round to it], but a couple of things really jumped out.

Firstly, the sustainability debate featured in a number of presentations - the sense was that there is a both a responsibility and an opportunity presented by the threat of climate change for our industry. 

Mark Cridge: We believe we can have a strong influence on behaviour, we should be looking to use it. He then quotes Ed Mayo, CEO of the National Consumer Council:

"While marketing got us into this mess, it may be that marketing can get us out"

[Note: This comes from a report by the WWF called Let them Eat Cake: Satisfying the new consumer appetite for responsible brands. You can get it here.]

The second thing that struck me was how important the performance is. Every winner was a brilliant thinker but they also had fantastic style, great visual aids, they worked the crowd like pros.

I think it's important for planners to remember that part of our job is communicating - presenting strategy as well as hatching it.

And this was a masterclass in wooing an audience, comic timing, charm and the like.

Congratulations to Russell, who took home the prize, with his pean to planning.



So Google buys Youtube. Is Mark Cuban right - are they crazy? Buying a competitive service to their own Google Video, opening themselves up possible lawsuits, technically offering for free via Youtube content that they sell on Google Video?


But I imagine this is all part of a larger plan. Whilst it feels like Bubble 2.0 hysteria, Google have long expressed the desire to roll their advertising model out across other channels - the above  comes from their analysts day presentation earlier this year - TV is still the biggest prize in the advertising market.

In order to control TV advertising, they need to be able to provide search for TV content. Having already invested in ways to search the closed captions, does Youtube give them a community of people who are tagging film content, enabling them to leverage social search to help them achieve their goal?

Footnote: See here for Youtube founders' take on the whole thing. They seem pretty pleased...

Addtional thought: How much of the Youtube purchase price was brand value?



Broadcast media has long been converted at the last mile to direct, personalised content. Immersive psychosocial /sexual experiences are traded with consumers, tailored to their personal foibles, in exchange for the opportunity to sell them personalised product.

Last.Behaviour constantly monitors media interactions and purchasing habits via embedded RFID chips and then uses the aggregated data and a social recommendation algorithm to tailor our experience of content and commerce - e-tailers and offline retail spaces dynamically re-order their wares depending on perceived preference - due to the size of the base being monitored they are rarely wrong.

Agencies, faced by the continual erosion of their commission based business models, merged with media owners, who never fully recovered from the copyright war of 2010 when a significant proportion of the enraged media public, facing innumerable lawsuits for infringement they consider fair use, signed up to The Mymedia Manifesto.

The Mymedia Manifesto adherents stopped purchasing media content and looked only to user generated media, released via creative commons licenses, for their media needs. A global barter economy of content established itself online, protected from the eyes of the coporations by sophisticated public key encryption.

The newly merged conglomerates found ever more subtle ways to incorporate paid for messaging in content experiences delivered to those consumers not under Mymedia. In order to offer consumers something that they could not receive under Mymedia, they plow trillions into neuroscience R&D.

The discovery of electrical, non-invasive interfaces for primary pleasure response enabled advertisers to trigger affective embedding with content experiences. Brand communities develop around certain kinds of affective response, with adherents addicted to the communication offered by specific brands and purchasing product only to get another hit.

Planners became experience engineers, working in tandem with an increasingly diverse array of technology implementation specialists, to craft communication interactions more valuable than any products.

Footnote: Amara's Law - We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

Inspired by John's post here.