My most recent attempt to explain this ( to myself as much as anything else)
Article just published in Aurora
This slide from a quantitive survey by Ipsos Mori came via slideshare
The full presentation is worth a read – it’s an easy read
This is a worry – as most politicians will seek to trade on these perceptions rather that take a stand for the truth. They have learnt to go with the grain of beliefs rather than fight them, like the good brand marketers they have all become.
Interesting fact is that the one question we do get about right (across the world) is the one about our life expectancy, which might tell us something about narcissism and/or our eternal pre-occupation with our own mortality.
Other interesting fact is that Italy comes out first as the most ignorant nation and we don’t too badly-just ignorant.
Now that Facebook and Twitter are public companies they are of course hungry for a bigger slice of the advertising pie. But-and it is a big but- they did not fundamentally start out as commercial spaces so they are have to innovate and come up with new advertising formats like “native ads” and “Likes” to get revenue to satisfy their shareholders. Thats ok- if they create formats with real value then they deserve a bigger slice.
Unfortunately these things can be “gamed”
The web – lovely and fascinating though it is – also a place for hucksters and scammers or , if you look at the so-called dark web , much worse. It is a world of link farms and low paid workers sitting behind screens and generating bullshit interest in brands (and other entities looking for business or audience) in return for a few pence.
I don’t blame Facebook. They don’t control the behaviour of others. Nobody can control the scammers.
But this short film explains some of the perils of this and in particular lifts the lid on how likes can be hyped to the point of being meaningless
BTW- it is worth adding that this is an age old problem of new advertising formats which can take a while before they become credible/respectable. In the early days of the poster industry there was a lot of “misreporting”
( to put it at its least libellous). I remember meeting “poster guys” in the Dog and Duck in soho and feeling that there was something a bit dodgy going on. This was the 1980s I stress – all very above board now.
Much hype in the media about how the things we own (cars,beds,fridges,boilers,mobiles,wearable devices yet too be invented) are going to make our lives better. The revolutionary nature of the change becomes apparent when you examine what the benefits to people might be at market by market level.
Easier – because things automatically happen -such as your car booking its own service.
Safer-because devices – think of a home water detection device- can automatically report a problem. Or a car that spots that the car two in front has suddenly braked
Cheaper – because devices may identify waste or overuse and help you make economies or even reward good behaviour with cheaper prices. Think of a device in your car that monitors your driving speeds and the amount of driving you do and gives you a personal insurance price.
Healthier -devices on our bodies or in our beds can monitor your training regime or spot an remerging problem such as elevated heart beat or blood pressure
Sounds good – the fact that a) You can identify big easy to understand benefits and b) the technology is cheap and getting cheaper suggest this is a revolution. Like most revolutions it will happen slower than you think. The mobile revolution – much trailed over the last decade- is only just upon us. As Niel Amstrong once said ” We expect too much change in a year and too little change in a decade”.
So what can go wrong? Plenty
Strip away the devices and ask what does this really mean? – it means
–lots of devices reporting on your behaviour. Are you happy with that ? well yes if it prevents a flood in my home or prevents a heart attack, but no if some big brother insurance company penalises me for driving at 80 in 70 mile a hour road – many of use do that on a motorway.
– lots of data on your behaviour being delivered to organisations that you hope will use it in a way that is in your interests rather than theirs. The benefits above are appealing but not if what you end up believing is that the data is mainly being used to sell you things you don really need.
Then there is infrastructure and technology. The much promised electric car revolution is stalled/ very slow because of a lack of recharging points and batteries that won’t take you long distance.
The internet of things will be plagued with this – software that does not talk to other software for example.
Expect many conferences on the internet of things over the coming decade. Expect the hype to run ahead of the reality. But in a decade expect industrial design to be very different. Chips with everything- and i don’t mean the fried sort.
I was asked this question by Aurora magazine ( which is a cross between Marketing Week and Campaign in Pakistan- edited by the excellent Mary-Lou Andrew). It set me thinking. If you ask this question now you are no longer just asking about the narrow question of winning and retaining customers – you are in fact asking about how brands fit into the wider picture of society, technology and government, especially as the state retreats.
Here were my 5
Business for Good
10 years ago companies started to get CSR departments- but was it just a fig leaf whilst the company carried on as before? The suspicion was yes and not the fig leaves were not big enough to cover the private parts
Then Unilever closed its CSR department and said that ethical behaviour was its whole business (see their 5 levers of change). Last year, Jim Stengel ( ex P&G top marketer) said (in Grow) the business case for brand ideals is not about altruism or corporate social responsibility. It is about expressing a business’s fundamental reason for being and powering its growth. A big trend- and the likes of Unilever and P&G do make the weather..
The bigger picture is that as the state retreats outsourcing is on the rise- cue more scandals as we resent private companies making profits out of our taxes. Outsourcing is a ghastly word – a damning association for Mitt Romney even in business friendly USA. These companies desperately need to express and believe in a higher purpose- not least as a defence agains public skepticism about their motives.
It was the surprise hit of the London 2012 Olympics- proof that great customer experience is the best form of marketing and the most effective way to build reputation
We are all now interested in how we can keep all that good will and energy going and apply it to other big challenges- especially as the state is in retreat. How can it help in other areas- the health service and social care for example? Volunteering is how the justice system has run in the UK since time immemorial in the form of ( unpaid ) Justices or the Peace. Can the model be applied to other areas of civic society?
The clues are there in the olympic experience and they are all to do with how you treat people who do the volunteering
Make it feel important , fun, rewarding and sociable- give people a sense of status as volunteers.
Try not to make it feel like ‘ a duty’
This is The Big Society – to make it happen means dropping the grandiose policy wonkery around it and thinking about the things that give us pleasure and make us feel recognised and rewarded.
Authentic cultural experiences
All trends have counter trends – as many have become more isolated-slaves to a flood of emails and tweets ,so we want to get back into the real world
Music festivals have grown fast over the past decade and now cultural festivals and book fairs are growing too. The Hay book festival has gone international. I expect Karachi’s young book festival to be as big as Jaipur soon – it will be an authentic expression of Pakistan’s vibrant literature and art.
The mobile personal screen
The mobile is no longer a communications device- it is turning into another screen that we carry around and by which we navigate the world.
The drivers of this are device innovation, a dynamic app economy and lower costs. Huawei (chinese) smartphones will make smartphones available to more people soon – not just those who can afford Iphones
To call this “mobile marketing” is to miss the more radical nature of the mobile revolution. This will collapse the separation between the real and virtual worlds. The mobile- as last supported by high speed internet access- will be a tool for adding whole other dimension to your experiences in shops, streets, sports stadia and at events. Of course big data will get in on the act and see this as a chance to target us with relevant messages- right person, right time ,right place is more possible. But the bigger opportunity is to ask – what portable service can i give my customers that they value and use to navigate the world around them and connect with their networks. Foursquare is just the beginning
Food prices and poverty
Food prices are going up as the harvest has been poor in the USA- expect protectionism to grow as countries like Russia seek to hold onto more of their food to feed their own people. This is understandable but misguided and a bad idea for everyone.
These rises will hit the poor hardest as they spend a much greater proportion of their money than the middle classes on just keeping body and soul together. The so-called developed nations will have to get used to more and more soup kitchens in their poorer cities (the Northern ones in the UK).
And for the big food and retail brands it will represent a challenge- the best will seize the opportunity to demonstrate that business is for good and not just for profit.
At last nights Big Thinkers event at COI Richard Thaler gave a glimpse of the opportunities to Nudge that will come from mobile/new technology- such pillboxes that mail you when you havent taken your medicine and IPhone apps that can test your blood sugar.
Smart phones, which are the devices that support these innovations, are still a middle class thing but in short order will be in the hands of most people in most parts of the world
All part of a wider picture in which we will have to do more for ourselves and health services around the world will have to be more efficient and sparing in the use of its professionals and experts time.
The other big driver of efficiency, according to Thaler is open access to data which government wills increasingly make available for private companies to present in useful ways. Such as the BART app for people looking to catch a bus.It is real time information about where your bus is and when it will arrive. It is simply based on making the GPS data that each bus produces available.
It has to be one of the most unenticing Economists front pages for a while -“The data deluge and how to handle it”.But it proves to be a right riveting read with some fresh jargon to enjoy. “Data Exhaust” is a my favourite-we all produce it and people are collecting it to see what i really like. The Digital equivalent of going through my garbage. why such a good read?
Data reveal patterns and those patterns are the stuff of human nature.Behind every pattern lies a story about people,government and business
Data offer glimpses into hidden behaviour only revealed by the data patterns.In Oakland California they looked at the arrests made in a particular area and found that the police were taking a sneeky day off on wednesdays.
Data has its dreamers: the open data movement believe that full disclosure will shine a light on inefficiency in central and local government in a way that calling in the management consultants never quite will. Fix my street highlights problems with the roads from citizen generated data
Data has its seeming good guys (who may turn out in the long run to be bad guys). Fill in the gap. But it may turn out to be Google. Data is their competitive advantage and you tend to guard that.
Data has its popularisers: click on the facebook advertising button and use their data to analyse target audiences. Data analysis made easy. Advertising targetting made cheap
Data has its conspirathy theorists: what is going on behind closed doors and will what Google collect be used to spy on us? It has already happened in mobile phones and News of the World has been caught red handed. What happens if spooks get their hands on my Google searches and puts 2+2 together and comes up with 5. I am about to go to Pakistan (again) to give a talk to advertisers- my son is interested in the Middle East and Islam. We would both show up as searching from the same computer. Suspicious? No actually. But you can easily see how the data could be misinterpreted.
As a light is shined on Big Data-Google, Amazon and others-more stories will be revealed. Just as the Data Dreamers want “full disclosure” so there has to be full disclosure about the data that is held and who holds it and what protection there is. If not regulation will be stronger than it need be or should be, with unintended consequences. Expect this story to run and run. Data are not dull. There are lots of actors on the stage with their own story to tell. And big financial interests are being protected.It will make the Tesco customer database look like innocent child’s play.
This will be the Decade of Data, with the Data analysts as the new Ubergeeks.