Farewell to the COI

                                                     

The government, among other advertisers, has been using insights from disciplines such as behavioural economics and social psychology to change the public’s behaviour for the better. Launching campaigns such as Change4Life, and with the NHS supporting educational TV programmes such as the Food Hospital, it has started to put the wealth of insight offered by these sciences to good use, and seen some impressive results.

These campaigns have been a great start towards trying to change lifestyles but the government has not fully followed through with their efforts. Amidst all the other budget cuts, the government froze the £540m-a-year COI ad budget (to focus only on ‘essential’ campaigns) until March 2011, followed by a reduction in ad spend by 50% thereafter.  Finally, by the end of the month, the COI will cease to exist as the government has decided to make different departments responsible for their own communications.

The Change4Life campaign initially showed the promise of success. However, since the cuts have been made, there has been a significant drop in the number of visits to the campaign website and to calls requesting information.

This could, as the government is probably aware, be a false economy, and the deterioration of public health can have wide-reaching and costly long-term effects. Ignoring the nation’s unhealthy habits could lead to more government spending on healthcare – potentially undoing the savings made by slashing the communications budget. In addition, an unhealthy society could lead to a less productive workforce – costing the government even more money. Given how effective the Change4Life campaign has been, it would be great to see the government reinvest its time, effort and money to engage with behavioural change communications.

We hope that even with the COI closed down, the government will be able to continue producing creative and effective behavioural change campaigns, like the one below – Kathy Can’t Sleep ad from the late 1980s, promoting safe driving under the slogan ‘drinking and driving wrecks lives’. It depicts a little girl Kathy whose dad got into a fatal accident, leaving the family to deal with the consequences of his actions.

‘Super Bowl Super Social’ with The Guardian

Here is some of the most thought provoking creative work of the last few weeks.
The new BBH ad for The Guardian featuring the trial of the three little pigs is the latest of BBH’s ‘super bowl super social’ ads. These have been developed on the basis that investment in landmark content creates social ripples that reduce the need for high ATL frequency. So spend more on the ad and less on media, handpicking where and when it gets exposed.
So this gives us a super clever ad extoling the virtues of open journalism and a launch event in C4 News on 29th February.

The big question – how well did it do?
• 768k views on You Tube to date which seems to be flattening out.
• 8k tweets with a potential reach of 20m.
• Most popular with Men 45 -54.
• Almost universally approved by You Tube raters.
On the other hand there appeared to be no increase in searches for relevant terms.
So does Super Bowl Super Social work?
The gold old fashioned ABCs may help us work that out in this case.

Google Re:Brief – Re-imagining TV adverts for the digital age

In light of changing screen based media behaviour, Walker Media recently brought together our TV and display teams to form the new Screen Team. By uniting the best of broadcast and digital display we can ensure that we offer a cohesive approach to the consumer journey, reflecting the ever increasing connectedness of screen based media behaviour.

To mark the changing nature of consumer interaction with screen media and to celebrate 18 years of Internet advertising, Google designed Project Re:Brief. Google challenged four global brands to remake iconic TV ads as digital campaigns to show how online media can be used creatively to engage and entertain rather than bombarding the consumer with sales pitches.

Coca-Cola chose to bring alive the feel good charm of the “Hilltop” TV ad from 1971, in which a group of people sing about wanting to buy the world a coke. This was done via Google’s display advertising platform and a series of bespoke vending machines around the world. Users can record a message and send it along with a Coca-Cola to connect with someone on the other side of the world. The recipient can then respond with a text or video message to thank the sender, completing the connection.

It is a rare occasion to see someone tweet about a new display ad or for someone to wax lyrical about a pop up online ad in the same way they would about a great TV ad. Projects like this are encouraging as they highlight the need for a new wave of digital advertising which captures the imagination of people.

The Centre of the Internet: How advertisers are tapping into our digital narcissism

Millennials, the most narcissistic generation ever, are keen to share branded content about themselves.

In the early days of Facebook, I once fell for a fake app that promised to reveal who the most common visitor to view my profile had been. I was very thrilled that someone had managed to hack into Facebook’s databases and would finally let me know who had been checking my profile out – only to be disappointed by landing on a page with my own face on it. The joke was on me. And worse still, the app was probably right – out of all my possible online stalkers, I am definitely the worst.

I’m not alone, as my generation, the Millennials, is supposed to be the most narcissistic ever – the authors of The Narcissism Epidemic found that there’s an accelerating upswing in narcissism among young people, and that no generation preceding us has been as self-obsessed as we are. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Internet – we not only stare at and update our own profiles but we measure our own online influence via Klout, untag all the photos in which we don’t look great, Google our own names – a habit so common that a budding ad creative decided to take advantage of it by buying ad space for search words that were Creative Directors’ names. We get told we’re not the centre of the universe, but  our grandmothers forgot to tell us that the Internet doesn’t revolve around us either.

Marketers have discovered that we’re quite likely to share something if we’re in it ourselves. Intel’s digital Museum of Me campaign was a hit, as it allowed Facebook users to create a virtual museum for their profiles to commemorate the last four or five years of the the lives, showing popular photos, comments, events and friends that had been important in those years. Similarly, the Virgin First Times campaign created collages you could share with your friends to reminisce on the early days of your friendship: you could see the first time you and a friend were tagged in the same photo, as well as the first time you were at an event together. Most recently, Kit Kat has hired artists to make sketches of Facebook users’ profile pictures as part of their Break Time Friday campaign.  In addition to being creative, all of these campaigns got a of lot shares due to the narcissism factor – they created content about a topic we never cease to be interested in, ourselves.

Kit Kat's, Virgin's and Intel's social media campaigns all tapped into the narcissism of the digital generation.

 In addition to brands, budding artists have found inventive ways to tap into the youth’s digital self-obsession. A Brooklyn-based band, Riot in Paris, are creating buzz in the blogsphere by making and recording songs about Twitter users who have asked to be tracked by the brand through using the hashtag RiotTrackMe. The lucky few get their own songs created and recorded by the band. Here’s a song for one social media user, Ali P, talking about how hard Ali finds it to drive in high heels, and wishing her the best for her chem exam:

Practical applications of mood-based advertising

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What we share on social media gives an insight into our moods - and advertisers are using this information to deliver targeted ads.

In a previous post, I looked into the growing body of research analysing how consumers’ moods affect their response to different types of advertising content. In this post, I will look at the ways in which this has been incorporated into advertising solutions in practice.

With the rise of social media, advertisers have a window into consumers’ moods and needs at any point in time – offered by their status updates, the sentiment of their tweets, social search or even the songs they’re listening to. Two comprehensive studies on Twitter data have provided an insight into people’s mood changes throughout the day. The studies suggest that there are universal patterns; people are grumpy when they wake up, brighten up during the morning, and their mood goes into decline again during the afternoon. Moods also improve very late in the evening to peak two hours before and two hours after midnight and at weekends during 8am to 11am.Unsurprisingly, the happiest time of the week is 5pm to 6pm on a Friday  (I personally find that to be the sweetest tasting drink).

In addition, Facebook has continually talked about its ability to build a “mood detector” which would enable advertisers to start targeting their ads by mood. This could possibly extend to all online ads, if Facebook becomes the dominant destination for online activity.

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Moodagent is a new Spotify app that allows users to generate mood-based playlists - and advertisers to place their ads in between suitable songs.

Moodagent, a recently launched Spotify app, is a tool that enables consumers to generate playlists suited to their mood, and allows advertisers to match their ads to the mood of the songs that a consumer is listening to. Peter Berg Steffensen, CEO at Moodagent said: “Our knowledge of emotional analytics, user behaviour and perception, combined with the ability to connect this data with specific products, provides us with the key to an unparalleled precision for targeting audio advertisement.”

Outside of digital, mood-based technology is also used in outdoor, with the development of ‘gladvertising’ (inventing a “clever” pun to name a new development always seems to make us in advertising happy). Using a face-tracking algorithm to match movements of the eyes and mouth to six expression patterns corresponding to happiness, anger, sadness, fear, surprise and disgust, digital outdoor will allow marketers to talk to consumers with tailored adverts.

Even though this area of research is still in its infancy, media owners are already developing the technology to match the potential of mood-based advertising. Essentially, this could give us new ways to fit creative and media strategies together, adding yet another layer to the communications planning process.

Pinterest: Three golden rules

There’s no two ways about it. Amongst the plethora of social media sites trying to enter the mainstream, Pinterest is the latest one to break through and the one sparking the most (p)interest (erg) amongst bloggers and marketers alike. A platform where users can find, bookmark and share content across a range of topics, brands are now looking to figure out how they can (and should) be using it for their business.

There are a number of blogs out there which have already done their round-up of important tips, including Mashable (a general guide for users) and Social Media Examiner (specifically for businesses) – both good reads. In my view, the three most important things to remember are:

1)      Use it yourself

This is the number one most important thing about any social medium, let alone Pinterest. As with all new things, there are a lot of people out there questioning the value of Pinterest. To those I say: remember how we all used to feel about Twitter. While the odd person continues to complain that Twitter is just for telling everyone what you had for breakfast, rarely have these people ever actually used it. Similarly with Pinterest, to someone who has only read about it/ had a cursory glance it may appear as nothing more than an accumulation of slightly whimsical wedding ideas with the odd internet meme thrown in. Dig a little deeper and you will find a space where people curate their own content across range of interests – be it feminism, food, charities or political causes (the current Kony 2012 campaign is everywhere). And just like with Twitter and Facebook, the more you use it, the more you get out of it. Even early adopters of Twitter took a while to get into it. These things take time and if you invest a bit into them I promise you it will be worth it (a bit like the Wire, or Mad Men). More importantly, using it will help you see how other people use it, which leads me to my next point…

2)      Inspire, don’t sell

This has been said on every post anywhere about Pinterest but it is so important that I must say it again. On realising the wish-list quality of users’ boards it is tempting to immediately see Pinterest as an opportunity to show off your brand’s products. But to do this is to misunderstand how people are using it. We should all know by now (but perhaps some of us need reminding now and then…) that the key to all social is content. The easiest way to understand this is to think how you personally use Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest as a consumer. You look for people who are posting awesome things about topics of interest to you – let’s face it, the only reasons other than content that any of us follow or like a brand is (1) for free stuff or (2) because we work on them. Why would you follow a brand that only pins their products, unless you are already an avid fan? Look at Bergdof Goodman or West Elm for great examples of brands that could easily have gone down the shop route but instead opted for a variety of style inspiration boards. You can follow the whole lot or just pick specific trends/ styles that interest/ inspire you. Similarly Whole Foods Market is inspirational to any foodie without being overtly sales-y. At the end of the day, we don’t use Facebook or Twitter as a shop, why the temptation with Pinterest? Especially when one of their rules is to ‘avoid self-promotion’.

Bergdof Goodman creates trend-specific boards for inspiration

3)      Use it for insight

Given a large part of what I do in my job revolves around audience insight, one of the most interesting potential benefits to me comes from Lauren Drell’s suggestion that once you have built a base of followers you use this as a way to gain qualitative insight into your audience. On one level you can easily learn about how they are repinning/ liking your own content, to find out whether you’re seen as inspirational, funny or a bit of a joke.  On the next level, it’s also relatively straightforward to have a look at who or what your followers also follow, as well as at their own boards to see what interests they have outside of your specific category. In this way you can gain a deeper understanding of who your audience is, in a way that is perhaps more ‘natural’ than a survey or group. You can widen this out to not just your followers but any followers of a particular category or topic, as suggested by  Grant McCracken who sees this is a method of understanding how people map things in a way which is ‘more telling than language’.

Pinterest is no longer just a place to plan a wedding or share a recipe. In the States the numbers are growing fast and the UK is catching on too. With Facebook’s new pages encouraging brands to go more visual, this is the way people are sharing content. Other manifestations of this trend – such as the rise of infographics and people tweeting pictures instead of written updates – demonstrate that the majority of people prefer a visual communications style – this is also why Pinterest is so captivating. If you haven’t been on yet, give it a look. But beware, it’s addictive. So much so that I am finding it difficult to finish writing this blog as I will no longer have an excuse to sit on it all day.

Social Media Week Diary – Part 2

Last night Ella and I went to “Using Data from Social Media to Improve Performance”, an event excellently moderated by Cathy Ma (Head of Social Media, IPC Media).

Peter O’Neill (L3 Analytics), who spoke about the importance of measuring flow between social media and websites, organised the event because he couldn’t see why we would have a social media week with no talks about measurement. Here are a couple of titbits on what the other speakers had to say on social media analytics:

Joshua March – Co-founder/ CEO at Conversocial

Brands often ignore importance of customer service when managing their social media presence. Having a social media expert responding to customer complaints or requests is not enough. Well may they refer a customer to an email address or a phone number, but if a person has chosen to contact you via your Facebook page it is either because they don’t want to email you or because email already hasn’t worked. Put a customer service person (or team) in charge of monitoring your Facebook page or Twitter account, and have a target response time of under an hour.

Josh’s  presentation can be found on the Conversocial blog:

http://www.conversocial.com/blog/entry/key-metrics-for-social-customer-service

Simon Cast – Head of Products at PeerIndex

Simon Cast – who moved from rocket science to influencer algorithms – presented on how brands can use influencers to gain reach in an efficient way. It was questioned how accurate these algorithms can be (something I’ve previously blogged about). He sees a future where algorithms for these tools are made public (as with PageRank), and could be amended for purpose. If this eventuates this could be an exciting step to keep brands in control of who they see as influential by amending these algorithms themselves.

PeerIndex’s website is here:

http://www.peerindex.com/

Christian Howes – Consultant (recently seen on Big Brother)

Pretty proud of having been banned from major betting retailers, Christian Howes showed how social media analysis can help produce predictions for reality TV shows’ winners and losers. From him we can learn that it’s how you present data just as much as using your brain.

This last comment perhaps seems obvious but I think as analysts we can often forget that part of the puzzle. Cathy Ma hit the nail on the head when she described analysts as storytellers. We have so many data sources available but it is up to us to constantly ask what the data is actually telling us.