The Difference Between Start-up Event and Marketing Event

Last week I was in Slush Singapore and the event was awesome. It was also breath of fresh air from traditional industry events, where you usually end up when working in marketing. What was also refreshing that I had to really explain what I am doing for work as the majority of people were not familiar with the weird acronyms we have as our “brands”. Can you truly explain what you do?

When I was talking to start-ups, pretty much every single one of them was explaining how their product, innovation or service is making the world a better place. Of course everyone wants to be a unicorn and get big fat investing rounds, but that was not the first thing you heard from them. The sense of purpose was something that came across first. Therefore I had really interesting discussions there and exchanged way more cards than in typical marketing event.

When you go to advertising seminar, the dialogue goes like this:

AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME $$$$$$*

AD WANKER #2: ME ME ME ME GREAT WORK**

AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME GREAT WORK

AD WANKER #2: ME ME ME ME $$$$$$

AD WANKER #1: ME ME ME ME “INNOVATION”***

and this continues as long as there is free booze.

We are only talking about ourselves. We preach our clients how they should be consumer-centric and communicate that way, but we are not practicing what we preach. For masters of branding, we truly suck on it. To be able to make your client interesting, you have to be interesting as well.

Talking about the cobbler´s children are the worst shod.

So what is the main difference between start-up event and marketing event?

First ones are interesting and inspiring. Latter ones are just painful waste of time.

I love marketing, but our industry is standing on burning platform. The talk about changing our ways has been mostly just smoke and mirrors for majority of agencies. We have taken some buzzwords from start-up world and put it to our presentations and think that we are innovative.  Current advertising is only relevant to advertisers and agencies. Advertising is not shaping popular culture anymore. Some could almost argue that we are not even part of popular culture.

Marketing is more important than ever. This was also obvious when talking with start-ups. They need help on how to break through clutter: how to be noticed, how to create memorable brand and tell interesting stories. They are in desperate need of agency expertise, but bureaucratic processes and archaic ways of working make collaboration almost impossible. Agencies are slow, the most interesting future clients are not.

Luckily it is not only gloom and doom and there are some awesome initiatives towards right direction (and luckily in firm where I am working for). Evolution does not save us, we need revolution.

* Way less money than any start-up is getting on their financing rounds.

** And that great work is categorized by fellow ad guys not the general public

**** In reality just some scam project

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5 Reasons Why Snapchat Spectacles Will Become a Hit

Google Glass failed because it was used by uncool nerds in shower and maybe due to some other reasons as well. Snapchat recently announced Spectacles, their first hardware offering.

Compared to Google glasses, I see rosier future for the Snapchat spectacles:

1. Hardware supports existing Snapchat product.

You can immediately envision how the new Spectacles actually enhance your Snapchat user experience. Spectacles are slave for overall Snapchat use case and provide natural gateway to deepen your relationship with brand. Google Glass was more branded as a separate product.

2. They are more lifestyle than technology.

spectacles

The glasses look cool. They totally embody Snapchat brand. Spectacles are so LA. They are not looking like bunch of engineers designed it, which has been the Achilles’ heel of many wearables. Wearables should be approached fashion-first, technology-second. Usually it is great if you can create a tribe of followers, unless they are called glassholes.

3. They are meant for only one thing.

You can only record 10s video with it, that´s it. We don´t need swiss army knife wearables, we need wearables that are good at doing on particular thing. The videos are not just replicas of what you would be creating with smartphone. They are circular, which resemble more of human vision. The videos created with Spectacles are unique.

4. They are affordable.

“They’re positioning it as this fun toy for people to engage with, not something that you need to think about as your next big technology investment.”

– Josh Elman, Greylock Partners

They only cost 130 dollars, so teens are more likely to drunk buy them from eCommerce site instead of Apple watch.

5. Spectacles have nothing to lose, but much to gain

“It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.”

– Evan Spiegel (Snapchat CEO)

The CEO of Snapchat calls the spectacles a toy and there will be limited distribution in the beginning. Snapchat will not live or die with Spectacles. However, if Spectacles will become hit, it could have interesting implications for Snapchat. They could free themselves from the confinement of smartphones. Snapchat has already forced brands to create vertical video, maybe this will change on how we approach digital photography in general. Philosophically it is also interesting that Spectacles are meant for the selfie-generation but the focus is outwards. You are filming what happens around you, not yourself.

What starts now as novelty, could become a true game changer.

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Is Digital Targeting Just a Hoax?

Before I went to holiday, there was lots of chatter about the ”failed” Facebook targeting experiment of P&G. This naturally gave fuel to the fire to those denouncing digital advertising (namely Ad Contrarian). Essentially P&G run targeted Facebook for Febreze (pet owners and large families for example), but they got better results when they were just targeting broader audience of just over 18 year olds.

If you have been doing marketing at professional level for a while the results were not surprising at all. However, you should not use this as a proof point that targeting does not work, because of the following reasons:

1. FMCG is a different kind of beast, you can just blast your audience with bazooka

“The bigger your brand, the more you need broad reach and less targeted media,”

– Brian Weiser, Pivotal Research Analyst

Majority of P&G brands (including Febreze) are unique brands because they are truly for everyone. Majority of FMCG is mass reach, so it is not surprising that when you have broad targeting you have better results than when just focusing on few sub-segments. Actually in most of the markets you should not even bother with Facebook. If you have money running TV ads, they would still probably be more effective than doing anything on Facebook. And that is essentially what P&G has done. They have increased their TV spending. FMCG is first-and-foremost about top-of-mind and visibility on shelf. To achieve that you opt for the channel getting you maximum awareness.

Pretty much all the rest of the brands cannot work with such a broad sweep. Not all of the products live and die through the mass awareness. If you need to get 1000 quality leads, targeting the whole population is not most likely be more cost-effective than smart targeting. The main benefits of digital advertising come when you are selling in eCommerce, because you can then truly track your results and optimize. Then shooting with bazooka is not the right tactic.

2. Targeting without personalization is not targeting

Apparently they run the same creative to all the different segments. This is akin to running nighttime ad at 11AM. It is like narrowing the list of girls you want to go out to date with, but addressing them all with the same name. If content is king, context is truly the king kong. As you have narrowed your audience, you should also narrow your message to be as relevant as possible to your target audience.

3. Targeting based on intuition is not targeting

In the articles it was not said how the different target groups (pet owners and large families) were selected, but I would assume that they were based on human intuition. The beauty of digital advertising is that you let machines to try out different target groups, different messages and let them automatically favor what truly works. Humans are incapable of handling that many tasks and they are more biased than smart algorithm.

So the failure of Febreze seems obvious in hindsight. You started narrowing although your audience is as broad as it gets. You did not narrow your message to your narrow audience. Lastly you based your targeting on human intuition instead of testing potential audiences with machine learning.

The more we let algorithms handle our marketing, the more effective it will become. P&G experiment shows more human fault than failure of highly-targeted, highly automated algorithm-driven approach.

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Virtual Reality Just Needs Its Own Pokemon GO

Augmented reality has been up and coming for years. There were already augmented reality games for Nokia N95. For various reasons it never really took off. Just as we ticked off augmented reality as the buzzword that will just dwindle and die, Pokemon GO happened.  And in just couple of weeks Nintendo´s stock has gone up (and back down), searches for Pokemon porn (I did not even know about this subgenre) skyrocketed, many people have died, amount of daily users has surpassed Twitter and people spend more time on Pokemon Go than Facebook. And let me repeat, Pokemon GO is an augmented reality app.

The success for Pokemon GO is easy to dissect to these three principles:

1.Easy to start, hard to master
Pokemon Go is simple game, you can start it right away but mastering it takes a lot of time. If you need to explain what you get from VR experience it is too complicated, it has to work right away.

2.Global brand attracting wide range of audience
Pokemon works on many levels and many audiences. For some they are totally relevant at this life stage, for some nostalgia and for some just cute. Until there are blockbuster game or movie (with household name) done in VR, there will be no Pokemon GO phenomenon in VR.

3.Perfect combination of real and digital
Pokemon Go did what Fitbit failed to, got people moving. People still crave for human connection and perversely Pokemon Go has given it. We need cute characters to get us out, move and meet new people. Like Pokemon GO, VR makes our boring reality more interesting but it has even more opportunities. With VR you can totally escape your boring life. Quite an intriguing promise I would say.

Virtual reality will probably also be driven by porn, but there are still couple of hurdles for the success. The VR glasses are still quite clunky and you look dorky when you use it (not to mention you start feeling sick). Therefore, you need more people looking dorky that you can start using VR openly (e.g. skinny jeans, man buns, athleisure). Other part is that VR has not really yet come pass the stunt phase where it is just cool to do something with the technology instead of doing cool things that have true meaning. This is opportunity for advertisers though, because it is still quite easy to make good impression with quite basic VR installations especially in events. This Singleton section was one of the most popular booths in Epicurean festival in Singapore. Main reason was the virtual reality whisky tasting:

singletonvrbooth

There is no question will the VR blow up. It will. The real question is timeline. Two months ago no one would have talked about augmented reality and now it is the hottest technology in town. In this digital age, you just need to one big hit and it will hit immediately.

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Caveman Cleaner and The Art of Standing Out in Gym Shower

There are no low-interest categories, there are just boring run-of-the mill products and more interesting ones.

Despite growth in male grooming sector, men´s beauty products remain still low-interest category. Guys generally could not give a less about what shampoo, body wash or other beauty product they use. Our main heuristics usually are what is cheap, available (hence we use our spouse´s products) and little smell has never hurt anyone, ay?

I bumped into this product in the shower of our gym and immediately caught my attention:
 cavemancleaner

Caveman Cleaner from Bad Labs is perfectly branded product in low-interest category for two particular reasons:

1. Value proposition is clear
I remember when 2-in-1 shampoos came out and you immediately started to wonder why you still need a separate shower gel? Shower is not about pampering yourself, it is a daily chore, you want it to be over quickly. Why would you not put toothpaste or maybe deodorant on that stuff as well? This is a hectic, fast world, there is no time for separate beauty products.

2. Branding is attention-grabbing and focused
Modern life is already too complicated and brands wants us to use different beauty products for different body parts. That just adds stress for modern man. We want to return back to time, when we were hunter-gatherers and did not need to worry about trimming our eyebrows. Our ancestors did only need water from rain, some leaves and charcoal and they seemed happy (until they became extinct). As paleo diet is becoming increasingly popular, why would not you go caveman on your grooming ritual as well?

Our gym shower has probably 20 different male grooming products, this is the only one I noticed and remember.  Saying that you work in low-interest category is not a reason to not be interesting. It is just easy excuse.

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Being Pioneer is Not for the Faint-hearted

Quote about Robert  “Fastest Knife in the West End” Liston, pioneer surgeon from 17th century:

Although Liston was renowned for his success stories, he also developed a reputation for the flamboyancy of his surgical failures. For instance, his joy at amputating a patient´s leg at the thigh in less than three minutes was hindered greatly when he realized he had also inadvertently sawed of patient´s testicles. 

And perhaps, most famously, another leg amputation performed in less than three minutes had the unfortunate result of killing three people: the patient (who survived the surgery but died of gangrene several days later); his young assistant (whose fingers he accidentally sawed off during surgery and who would also later succumb to gangrene); and “a distinguished surgical spectator” whose coattails Liston also slashed. The man, who found himself surrounded by geysers of blood, was so convinced that the knife had pierced his vitals that he immediately “dropped dead from fright”. It was later described as “the only operation in history with 300 percent mortality rate”

Cristin O´Keefe Aptowicz: Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine

Robert Liston gives us good guiding light how to approach anything new:

  1. There is no framework when you are developing something from the scratch, you have to pave your own path.
  2. You cannot always avoid mistakes, but you can always be fast.
  3. If you experiment, it is better to saw other guy´s testicles than your own.
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Auftragstaktik and The Lack of Leadership in Advertising Industry

“No plan survives contact with enemy”
– Helmut von Moltke
 
I have met great people, personalities and borderline geniuses during my years in advertising. What have I encountered less is good leaders and visionary leadership.

The biggest problem in advertising industry is leadership problem. Majority of us (me included) have been promoted because we are great experts. We are good strategists, writers or suits but majority don´t have any experience or natural skills to lead or inspire teams. I would argue also that the major reason for churn in ad agencies is due to bad management and lack vision and strategic vigor. When you don´t have the vision you end up doing things yourself or micro-managing your team which naturally annoys any sensible person.

Because majority of leaders are former experts, only few can do the leap to strategic level from tactical grunt work. Contrary to the stereotypes, the right leadership approach to creative industries can be found from military strategy and of all places in usually rigid and authoritarian Germany. “Auftragstaktik” or Mission command in US, is a mission-type tactics doctrine, which promotes freedom and speed of action within defined constraints. The idea of Auftragstaktik originates with Frederick the Great, who was frustrated by the lack of initiative within his leaders. Military strategist Helmut von Moltke coined the actual idea hundred years later (whose quote above is one of the best articulations of strategy). Currently similar types of command are advocated in US, Canadian, Dutch and British armies. The basic idea of Augftagstaktik is simple:

  1. Leaders give the team clearly defined goal
  2. Leader gives the team specific timeframe to accomplish that goal
  3. Leader lets them accomplish that goal independently

Essentially in Auftragstik you say your team what you want them to achieve but you are not saying how they can achieve that. This should result to two benefits:

  1. The team has the ownership and pride of the particular project. They will become better at solving problems and you also cultivate future leaders. They are closer to the project/actual fight so they should do their decisions where things are actually happening.
  2. The leader frees his/her time from tactics and keeps focused on the broader strategy. The leader should have better visibility of business/the war so he/she should be able to show guidance and vision to the team.

If you cannot give responsibility to your team and don´t trust them, you have either made bad hires or you are control freak. Both things are naturally highly worrying. If your leadership is diluted to micro managing you do more harm than good in your company. Then your choices are either to evolve from manager to true leader by trusting your team or you just have to face the reality that you are not cut as a leader at the first place.

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Economic Graph: Why Microsoft bought LinkedIn?

“You might feel a sense of excitement, fear, sadness, or some combination of all of those emotions. Every member of exec team has experienced the same, but we´ve had months to process”
Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn Ceo

LinkedIn was bought for $26.2 billion in an all-cash deal this week. It is one of the biggest acquisitions this year and the biggest acquisition in the history of Microsoft. Failure rate of mergers and acquisitions in general is somewhere between 70% and 90% and Microsoft has not really been an exception. This deal might still actually make sense. Below I present some of the main points why Microsoft bought LinkedIn.

“LinkedIn will become the social fabric across all of Microsoft”
Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Data is power
Firstly, Microsoft is mainly buying access to the lucrative professional audience. LinkedIn has 433 million users of which pretty much everyone is on their target audience. LinkedIn will be run as a separate entity (a bit like Instagram within Facebook), but naturally there is vast amount of insights to be gained from the platform that would benefit Microsoft in multiple ways (product development etc.). Microsoft will want to create an economic graph, alike to Facebook´s social graph but with people with money.
economicgraph
Better productivity: Goodbye work-life balance
Microsoft has been aggressively pushing their cloud solutions. The first possible use cases Satya Nadella mentioned in his memo were around connecting Office 365, Dynamics and LinkedIn database. You could for example get articles in LinkedIn newsfeed based on the actual project you are working on. Or Office could suggest you to connect with expert to connect via LinkedIn to help you complete a task you are working on. When you are going to a new business meeting you would get automatically the background information from LinkedIn. Great functions, but are they worth the $26 billion price tag?

LinkedIn as a CRM Platform
Currently Microsoft is at fourth place in CRM software, behind Salesforce, Sap and Oracle. Merging databases with LinkedIn could bring Microsoft much needed advantage in this field. Of course around 75% of CRM implementations fail, but that also means that there is target market not particularly happy with their current products.

This deal might be really good thing for the future of LinkedIn. The platform has not really evolved from recruiting site, which is a challenge if majority of your audience is not actively looking for a job. Although some argue that LinkedIn is a content company, only 25% of LinkedIn users return every month to the site. Connecting with Microsoft might give it a boost that it needs to stay relevant in the competitive social media space. Twitter could do with similar boost.

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Marketer Time Gap: Why Singapore Overspends in Print Media?

I was astonished to read the new report from Datalicious and eConsultancy about where the media budgets are generally going in Singapore. Based on the respondents on that survey, they use 42% of their marketing budget to print, although audience uses only 10% of their time there. This feels like a massive overspending in print and total waste of money.

eConsultancy & Datalicious: Media Budgets Index- Comparing Media Budget Allocation to media consumption

eConsultancy & Datalicious: Media Budgets Index- Comparing Media Budget Allocation to media consumption (2016)

That people are spending time on some channel does not necessarily mean that you can reach people there effectively. E.g. people spend time on WhatsApp where advertisers are not allowed. Or TV viewership is moving towards Netflix, where you cannot interrupt the audience with TV ads. Impact is not equal to time. Still this statistic gives indication that advertisers are not using their media money as wisely as they could. These results strengthen the five principles I have encountered anecdotally during my time in here:

  1. Stop overspending on print. The time consumers spent on print will not be growing so do not let the affordability fool you.
  2. Keep your TV spend around where it is. It is expensive channel, but still one of the most effective mediums to gain massive reach and also tell emotional story.
  3. Consider the role of digital for your company. Your audience is spending bigger proportion of their time every year in digital. If you are not understanding what your consumers are doing there, you will be marketing in places where your customers aren´t. The question should not be should you invest on digital, but how you will invest on digital.
  4. Reconsider radio. Radio is the unsung hero of the media mix. Cost-effective channel that people still spend surprisingly long time with. During my whole advertising career, radio has always been pariah of different media types but based on these results there is opportunity to improve your media effectiveness by adding it to your media mix. Plus it is opportunity to do some really great ads.
  5. Based on the same research over half of the marketers are not using attribution or don´t even know what it is. If you are not measuring and assessing the effectiveness of your different media channels, start now. Otherwise you keep spending on print, because it doesn´t seem to be completely broken method based on your results (which are not based on attribution). Unfortunately there will be no transition from working ok to not working at all.

Throughout my whole career, I have advocated for digital and it seems that my clients have been waking up to the consumer reality. This study shows that there is a still lot of work to do to make all the marketers realize the current lay of the land.

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Spot the Pseudomarketer

Martin Gardner´s “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science” is classic book for skeptic. What strikes a chord for everyone in working in advertising is when he is describing the paranoia in pseudoscientists. Does these character traits sound familiar?

  1. He considers himself a genius.
  2. He regards his colleagues, without exception, as ignorant blockheads.
  3. He believes himself unjustly persecuted and discriminated against.
  4. He has strong compulsions to focus his attacks on the greatest scientists and the best-established theories (actually this is probably only thing where pseudoscientist differs from pseudomarketer. Usually pseudomarketers are too spineless to really fight the status quo).
  5. He often has a tendency to write in complex jargon, in many cases making use of terms and phrases he himself has coined.

Usually these traits are more probable the more removed the marketer is from the actual work. For pseudomarketer it is obvious that he is genius if he has not really ever done any marketing activities himself. Nothing is more dangerous than a moron who thinks he is visionary.

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