News to Newspapers

When it comes to news, online has cornered convenience.

Readership in the US has declined more than 1% a year since 1990. And even as far back as 2004 in the young demographic of 18-34 year olds, there was only a 3% readership.

In the UK, circulation has fallen by 22% since 2007.
This picture painted by the OECD gives papers a bleak looking future.

So how have the papers reacted?

The Times have angled their advertising to show the range they have in their paper.
Culture, science, business, media, sport. The list goes on.

This attempts to highlight the price paid by those preferring online’s convenience.
It’s an insight into the product.
Not a great one but there is an insight in there.

It says “we have more information than you can find online.”

However, in flipping the benefit of the online service on its head, you still haven’t provided an insightful solution.
They try to position online news’ brevity as a flaw in the product.

I think the newspapers need to develop the insight further.
Why should people want all that extra information?
Or even DO people want that extra information?

The second question is answered in a form by the new ‘i’ paper by the Independent.

Acting differently from the Times, they have segmented their audiences.
Aimed at the most internet friendly audience; the young, it is brief and relevant.
Never mind the scatty, almost patronising layout, it’s well targeted.

Now to the why…
We know that more information is better.
But we also know that ‘more’ or ‘bigger’ aren’t insightful enough to turn around an industry slowly getting shredded.

This product insight isn’t enough.

They need to answer why people are going to take the time out of their busy days, when they’re two easy clicks away from everything but Times’ obscure sections!

In my view, its in the time people put aside for themselves.
That 15 minutes where no one can interrupt you.
You’re learning and you’re enjoying it.
You want to be ‘in the know’.
With a glass of Tropicana in the morning.
With a stiff one after work.
With a long cappuccino on a Sunday.
It’s a tradition. For you.
That’s the market.

The Times’ answer to why is to charge online readers for their service .
Effectively remove online as a viable option.
In the campaign, Rupert Everett sells in the convenience of online news.

A convenience the consumer already gets from other providers. For free.

Since introducing the charges, they have lost 90% of their traffic.
They may be increasing direct revenue, but they are certainly losing advertising revenue.

More importantly – they are further losing the consumer.

As a reporter in The Wire said about the movement to online:

“There’s no stopping progress”

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Facebook. Always Bloody Facebook

I was briefing a designer to insert a Facebook icon.
Our social media planner heard me say the now prolifically popular F word, and let out a mini-rant.
“Facebook. Always bloody Facebook.”
He finished his rant and I finished my briefing, but it had got me thinking.

Facebook is a worldwide phenomenon, courting the attentions of people in unrivalled measures. This stretches from the very succesful ‘The Social Network’ Hollywood film to daily, almost religious use by many.
Interestingly, there are now more Facebook users over 50 years old than there are under 16. Both of these demographics hold more than 2.4 million people, and rising.

These kind of stats are reason alone for holding Facebook up as a great social platform and an indisputable way to reach people.
The social media planner definitely does. I do. We all do.

But for this very reason, it is becoming increasingly flawed.
Don’t worry, there are still a good few more glory years for Mark Zuckerberg’s baby.
A client would be dumb not to see the promise in these facts and the many success stories so far.
However, Facebook needs to adapt to avoid becoming a BP sized oil spill in the sea of content that is the web.

As it grows in reach and use, suitable targeting becomes harder.

The company’s messaging is exponentially lost.

The more people talking, the fewer that can listen.

The less chance your brand has of being heard.

My mini feed is inundated with information.

10% of it is corporate. 90% is personal.

On top of that, we all admit to having Facebook ‘friends’ we would subtly scurry across on an amber to avoid having to talk to.

Therefore about 30% are relevant, 60% irrelevant.

That’s two-thirds of the personal content I’m skimming through.

Comparatively, I’m looking for fewer and fewer needles in a growing haystack.

The more that grows, the harder it is to make that 10% stand out.
It becomes friends vs. companies.
WPP’s Alexandr Orlov loses out to Dave, John, Stacey, and those 6 people you once met in Marbella.
With so much content on one page, Facebook ads get lost where they are.

Viral and consumer owned content will still thrive but there aren’t many brands that have that potential, and for much longer….

Therefore, Facebook needs to be able to suitably separate and target its users to avoid becoming advertising background like so many initiatives within the Internet.
Whether this is another annoying layout change to make the adverts worth their buck, or a subtle shift towards a more brand friendly environment.

Otherwise it won’t always be Facebook, bloody Facebook.

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What Kanye West can tell us about Twitter

I was having supper with my cousin and her husband in Chiswick recently.
As a former Department head at Red Bull, and a current CEO of an integrated agency, they make for pretty interesting supper company.

Nick admitted to being a fellow Twitsceptic (a rare Twitter abreviation for you there).
From Nick being one of the most prominent features on my own live feed, it was clear that we had for some reason or another shaken off our pre-registering twitters (I’m on a roll).
When Nick couldn’t quite put his finger on what made him fall in love with it, it got a fresh young bloggers mind wandering…

Marketing is inherently about selling our client’s brand through a thick cloud of messages, mediums, products and competitors. Reflective accusations have been made of adverts as previously lengthy and overly informative. Clients and agencies drove the brand down an uninspiring and unimaginative road.

The market changed.

So did the agencies.

Eventually the clients did too.

The time and space your brand had shortened.

Three banners on every page.

That’s a third of the space.

A third of the time.

This is the result.

Twitter and Tweet. Shorter and sweet.

They limit you.

Force you to act as your brands should.

To stop brands retweeting back to their old ways (last one, I promise).
It prevents the big mouths splattering and spluttering around generalities and valueless feelings, asking readers to give them minutes while others only take seconds.

We have to invent new systems.
Lead the way. By example.
Drive our brand and it’s message.

As Twitter-flop Kanye preached…

Harder. Better. Faster. Shorter.

Oh, and if you’re questioning why Kanye is a ‘flop’, watch this

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Burials and Burkas

There was a politically vibrant struggle in Kenya in the 1990s between traditional Kenyan values and the growing westernisation of the nation.

There was one particular dispute between the Luo tribe and the family of a deceased lawyer that summed up this struggle.

The dispute was over who owned the burial rights to Mr Otieno’s body.

The tribe he was born to, or this lawyer’s family?

In the end, the Luo tribe were awarded his burial rights by a point-scoring president. The burial was carried out in his tribal village.

Before it started the main priest was first heard arriving…

Then seen arriving in tribal robes, clutching a traditional spear….dismounting from his new Kawasaki motorbike.

I love the irony in this story.

It highlights the importance of and varied definition of tradition, and the role it has in our societies.

The consumer power of tradition and the role it has in a nation have seen hugely succesful campaigns for Heinz, Mini, and Carlsberg to mention but a few.

In fact, MCBD’s recent Hovis campaign cleaned up at the 2010 IPA Effectiveness Awards.
Selling the tradition of the brand, the TV ad saw a 90 million kick in revenue.

However, perhaps the most important lesson from the burial dispute for an industry paid to generalise and target these assumed generalisations, is that there is power and opportunity in markets where you may never have expected….
With clever targeting, increased awareness and communication, we can bring new customers to our clients and our clients to new markets.

I was told by Richard Hytner, Deputy CEO of Saatchi worldwide about some infield research done a few years ago in the middle eastern markets. This is where someone is sent into a new market to bring back unique learnings.
An invaluable if not costly method.
However, as budgets tighten, the more distant the research becomes.
This research was within the dominant Muslim population.

It discovered 2 key learnings.
1. The fact that Muslim women can be very competitive amongst themselves.
In looks as well as in life.

What this spelled out was in cosmetics.

2. Many Muslim women wore make-up beneath their veils.
In effect, like any ‘western’ woman.
This opened up opportunities in a whole new market.

Clearly, some had been buying the product, but they had never really been asked to.

With increased awareness and clever targeting, there was now a market to be capitalised on.

We all know insights are the bedrock of any great campaign.
Considering their value, I question if we’re doing enough to get them.

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