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Archive for October, 2009

  • Mary Meeker’s Economy & Internet Trends Presentation 2009

    21st October 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in data, interactive

    I first came across this last year, and found it to be one of the best written and most insightful papers of the year.

    At first glance this year’s presentation, posted yesterday (20th Oct) looks equally essential reading. See what you think.

    Mary Meeker’s Internet Presentation 2009

  • So what exactly might ‘Adaptive Brand Marketing’ be?

    16th October 09

    (Jointly authored with Greg Andersen, our MD in BBH New York)

    The imminent publication of Forrester’s new report on the challenges facing clients – “Adaptive Brand Marketing: Rethinking Your Approach to Branding in the Digital Age” is a welcome turning of the spotlight toward client organizations. Without question agencies of all sizes, shapes and persuasions need to get their collective acts together and transform into leaner, more agile, more creative, & more technology- and data-fuelled businesses. The best in the business are no doubt all plotting how they can come out of this recession leaner, meaner, quicker, better.

    But that’s kind of pointless unless clients adapt too.

    We’ve not got hold of the report yet; we’re looking forward to getting stuck in, and are intrigued by the ‘new 4 Ps’ presented in the report: permission, proximity, perception, participation (AdAge covered some more of the detail in this piece from last week). But the idea of adaptive brand marketing is something we’ve been kicking around for a while at BBH.

    We believe marketing communications are already being forced to become increasingly agile; particularly for more youth-oriented brands. In such a fast paced and dynamic media environment, relevance is increasingly determined in the moment. Recency matters. Audience and attention are fleeting. Fame spikes … even for the famous. For brands to achieve and maintain fame in this context, it’s our view that communications for certain types of brands must make a dramatic shift from highly polished epic launches to a continuous and diverse stream of messaging and content designed to ride hyper-current cultural trends, consumer attitudes and competitive maneuvering. The performance of this diverse activity continuously monitored and optimized like a portfolio of stocks … kill the under-performers and reinvest in the ones showing returns. However, this ‘continuous beta’ mentality is a big leap from 18-month planning cycles and dogmatic, rigid testing protocols, despite its more real-time and real-world feedback.

    Just as this is culturally challenging for many agencies, so it will prove for marketing organizations. As marketing becomes more technology-powered, with learning more real-time, it will be critical to identify who is responsible for leading within marketing organizations … and more importantly, who is empowered to make decisions on the fly. Committee decision making and hierarchical organizational structures, for all their perceived benefits, won’t hold up to the strain of an accelerated process.

    So in advance of the full report, here are some of our starters for ten (or seven, actually) on how client structures, skill sets and approaches might adapt to deliver ‘adaptive branding’. We’re learning as we’re going, and as usual we’d value your input, opinions, builds or disagreements.

    We’d particularly like to hear about clients that are exploring new ways of engaging agencies, and new forms of leaner, faster, more iterative & curatorial process. Again, there’s much we can learn from these pioneers.

    1. Consumer intelligence at the center

    We wholeheartedly agree with Forrester’s points around a more prominent role for research. We all have an increasing number of highly sophisticated, real-time and granular measurement tools at our disposal, especially in interactive environments. Adopting an agile approach to using this data becomes more significant; if one can measure everything, one must decide what really matters to avoid drowning or becoming paralyzed. Less, but better measurement, turk ponosu izle enabling more responsive data-powered marketing, should be the ambition (what Tim @ Made By Many called ‘Agile Measurement‘). These observations suggest an elevated role for the insight & research functions that can quickly distribute and integrate learning in real time.

    2. Marketing as a catalyst for change within the broader company

    This points to a potentially larger opportunity. It’s not just the marketing organization that needs to reorient itself given the now normal digital age, but the company itself should consider how it reorients itself around its marketing organization. In most progressive companies, it is the marketing function that has most quickly and deeply engaged with the new interactive toolkit. This expertise can play a role well beyond the traditional confines of marketing communications. For example, a proper understanding of social media tools and the proper employment of resulting insights could impact everything from new product/service innovation to customer service to crisis management.

    What some, such as Dachis, are calling ‘social business design‘ is a significant opportunity in which marketing teams could play a leading role in driving efficiencies and creating new models internally. Marketing as a revenue source and a genuine competitive advantage, not just a cost. If marketers want a seat back at the big boys’ table, this is one potential way of getting it.

    3. The networked organization

    The structural definitions of, and relationships between, agencies and marketing organizations must change if companies are to ensure access to the very highest quality and leading-edge partners delivering at speed. With the emergence of what Forrester call “the federated organization” (we prefer ‘networked’) Global brand leaders and directors need to be able to cast elite teams of people (talent that spans several departments, companies or geographies) to get best results and avoid capacity bottlenecks.

    This places special emphasis on an evolved role for ‘lead agency’ partners, both providing the conventionally critical services around quality control and coordination, but also performing a new casting director role for marketing directors; knowing whom to bring into a project, and when, and then managing that engagement. Further, client organizations must foster a culture of generosity and collaboration both within their organizations and across multi-agency teams to get the most out of them. Just as dogs and owners look alike, so do clients and the culture of their agency roster (but let’s stop right there with that analogy).

    4. Brand leaders as curators

    Without question, global brand leaders do need to become more responsible for evolving marketing assets and them adapting to local markets (in many cases this is already happening, for example with some of the Unilever brands with whom BBH works). However, we believe this evolved role needs to go well beyond adaptation and coordination. We envisage an increasing role for both client and agency organizations as not just creators of content, but as curators as well. In a world awash in content, time can be saved by smart curation and the hacking of existing properties. Not everything needs to be conceived of, crafted and produced from the ground up every time. This is particularly important as brands move beyond the development of the traditional ‘campaign’ and start evolving more ongoing platforms that need growing, managing, sustaining and refreshing.

    5. Reframing investment timelines

    With campaigns evolving into programs and platforms, the annual planning & budgeting framework currently used to allocate monies needs revamping. This is clearly challenging, but if some marketing activity is designed to build long-term enduring platforms and other marketing is to be more opportunistic, then it seems sensible to begin to think about marketing investment in a parallel fashion. We agree that a more active and fluid approach to marketing investment is the correct approach, but this places even greater emphasis on agile and, as much as possible, live measurement.

    6. To fail is to learn

    We think client organizations need to find new comfort in failure and place increased value in learning as long as both happen for real, and in close to real time. Embracing more of a continuous beta mentality means getting communications into market more quickly and less expensively … with early real learning as the result. This beta learning can help redirect the program while it’s still being developed instead of after its finished. A marketer can spend 10 months of theoretical testing in artificial environments and a highly polished, highly researched program still has a chance of failure, or in many cases creates no real impact one way or another. What good is the post-program audit? The budget is gone and the market has moved on.

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    7. The time is now

    Historically, recessions have proven to be crucibles of change. The current recession is already turning out to be rather more of a complete reset for the industry than a temporary dip in revenues. Structurally, the smartest agencies and agency groups have been quietly plotting not only their future size, but also rebuilding their capabilities, simplifying their processes and gently retooling their skillsets. The smartest marketing organizations must ensure they are doing the same.

    So who’s doing this well?

    No doubt the Forrester report will be full of strong cases of where this is already happening. We look forward to that.

    But we’re after your examples of clients re-inventing process, resourcing models, cultures in the pursuit of better work, produced more efficiently. Whilst it’s perhaps easier to highlight examples of where this *isn’t* happening, let’s try and stay focused on things we can learn from.

    Let us know.

  • To the Ends of the Earth

    15th October 09

    Posted by Mel Exon

    Posted in creativity, Sustainability

    “This is it. One day, one issue, thousands of voices.
    Robin Beck, Lead Organiser, Blog Action Day 09: Climate Change

    Blog Action Day has it all: a social experiment on a mass scale, for the good of the planet. And, whilst it’s been pretty awe-inspiring to witness thousands of people write about the same topic in one day, it’s fair to say we’re most excited by that word in the middle: Action.

    Antarctica: A Global Warning

    Creating a human SOS for 'Antarctica: A Global Warning' (Photo by Sebastian Copeland)

    With that and #BAD09′s climate change focus in mind, we’re using our post here to share the work of Sebastian Copeland, the photographer, environmental advocate & polar explorer. (Full disclosure: I’m proud to say Sebastian is also my cousin).

    Sebastian Copeland, photographer & board member, Global Green USA

    Sebastian Copeland, board member & advocate, Global Green USA

    Aside from the fact we’re not-so-secret fans of exploration in all senses of the word here at Labs, the thing we most admire (as we’ve discussed on a more than one occasion) is the killer combination of ground-breaking creativity put to great use.  In Sebastian’s case, it’s one thing to have enviable creative & technical skill as a photographer, director, writer & speaker, it’s altogether another thing when that’s combined with a fearless appetite for physical endurance and a single-minded commitment to putting climate change issues front & centre.

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  • Bringing iPhone touch technology to desktop

    15th October 09

    Posted by Ben Malbon

    Posted in design, interactive, technology

    We liked this.

    Fairly cutting edge stuff – probably not easily accessible to everyday (‘normal’ i.e. have-a-life) users, quite yet at least, but still really interesting step on the way from mouse to touch-based (more direct) interface. See what you think.

    http://www.vimeo.com/6712657

    Thanks to @kunaldpatel for the heads up.

  • The Coming Age of Augmentation

    3rd October 09

    Photo: cluster of neural cells by Su-Chan Zhang, University Wisconsin-Madison

    Photo: cluster of neural cells by Su-Chan Zhang, University Wisconsin-Madison

    As in thrall as we may be to the firehose of new stuff drenching us in the here and now, occasionally we want to look a little further over the horizon. Two thoughts collided in the collective Labs brain a short while ago. By ‘collided’ we mean we saw a consequence of the relationship between the two that made us sit up and think:

    1.    The mass socialization of technology. 300 million + Facebook users can’t be wrong. We’re still in awe of how mainstream the adoption of technology has become and just how networked the world is. Increasingly the ‘loop’ never seems to close.

    2.    How ill-equipped we are to cope with the deluge. Natural human processing power is sadly finite and struggling to cope. Certainly, we know we’re not alone in adopting coping strategies like continuous partial attention and ignoring much beyond tomorrow or next week. Steve Rubel at Edelman also has written extensively on the attention crash and its relevance for marketers.

    Courtesy of xkcd web comic

    Courtesy of xkcd web comic

    The heady mix of excitement and uneasy tension brought about by these two things has felt irresolvable and on an accelerating curve. Sure, we can help speed our path through the data with better micro tools (“there’s an app for that…”) but they invariably lead us to consume more, faster; giving us the sense that we’re simply accelerating to the point where our brains implode are placed under too much stress. We’re not wannabe priestesses and priests of Zen around here, but is there a longer term, more profound step change to be made where technology actually enables a more balanced life?

    An answer began to emerge when we read a thought-provoking piece in the NYT by John Markoff subtitled “Artificial Intelligence Regains Its Allure.” AI. Cybernetics. Nanotechnology. Post Humanism? Sounds eccentric, but stay with us. Markoff’s assertion that a groundswell of attention and respect has been building around AI, in particular around an idea dubbed the Technological Singularity, made us curious.  In a sentence, the idea is that once we create an an artificial intelligence greater than our own, it follows that any resulting ‘Superbrain’ will be capable of augmenting itself extremely quickly to become even more intelligent and so on, leading to an explosive growth in intelligence that is (literally) beyond our imagination.

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  • I Think, Therefore I Am (a Self-aware, Superhuman Cyborg)*

    3rd October 09

    *John Markoff, “The Coming Superbrain”, New York Times, May 2009

    This post exists to house the material we digested to write the “The Coming Age of Augmentation” Labs post which follows this one.

    We have to come clean first. Yes, we do like tech innovation and even sci-fi.  We count amongst our Labs midst a few fans of Philip K Dick and one who still reads Yevgeny Zamyatin, so we may appear to be on less than entirely rational, objective ground here.  Then there is the fact there is something fabulously seductive about the language and imagery used to describe prospective real & imagined scientific frontiers: Dystopia, Utopia, Rapture (of the Nerds), the Singularity, that extraordinarily gripping, nightmare sequence in Terminator 2 when the playground is blown to smithereens… But we’re drifting from the point.

    Here we’d like to create a virtual library of all the very best content about the Technological Singularity and related topics. Please add links to other good stuff worth reading in the comments. We’ve arranged the content here on a make-shift scale from Tech Evangelist all the way to Sceptic, starting with the former. Here goes -

    photo2

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  • Campaigns, Programs, Platforms – The Way Forward According to R/GA

    1st October 09

    In this film, recorded in NYC last week during Advertising Week, Bob Greenberg (Chairman, CEO & Chief Creative Officer) & Barry Wacksman (EVP, Chief Growth Officer) provide smart, grounded, food-for-thought around agency model re-invention, and particularly around the role of technology in the emerging shape of agencies, post-recession.

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    It’s of value for a number of reasons. First, because they’re talking from experience rather than about theory – always preferable. But second, they’re not just talking about themselves or about how great they are (though they are clearly very good within the niche they occupy). And so it doesn’t feel preachy. It feels honest and useful. And so no matter whether you’re a tiny & groovy start-up with six people or a networked mega-shop, there are provocations here.

    The dissection of the very real differences between CAMPAIGNS, PROGRAMS and PLATFORMS is useful, not least when it comes to resource implications, porno filmi izle processes and structures. This seems the key take-out. And two numbers have stayed with me: 25% of their headcount are technologists (where do they get *that* much great talent?). They produce 95% of their output in-house.

    Their model won’t be right for the great majority of agencies – they’re still production specialists in many ways – but they at least seem to have a model, and can talk coherently around why it’s right for them. They seem to have worked out how technology can work for them, rather than the reverse.

    Smart people. Worth watching.