On Empathy

Last year Reach (publishers of The Mirror and Express newspapers) produced a fascinating study into the differences between those in media agencies and the population as a whole. Reach (or rather Trinity Mirror as it was then) summarised their findings as follows: “We discovered that people in ad land unconsciously see, experience and interpret the world differently to large swathes of the UK population”.

Here’s what the Cog Blog had to say about it at the time.

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Auditor Evolution Continued

Last week’s Cog Blog was all about how traditional media auditors need to evolve along with the rest of the media industry. Simplifying ridiculously, this involves a move from the focus being solely on the price paid for executional buys to a more balanced assessment of how best to use the many media options out there.

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Auditors Need to Evolve

Certain elements of the media business have been getting excited about the third anniversary of the ANA transparency report. Self-congratulatory pieces have appeared from Ebiquity, and their sibling Firm Decisions. Both have a point in that they (and in particular their ex-colleague Nick Manning) drove one key output from the ANA work.

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Meeker, Social Media and Health

Last week’s Cog Blog made the point that a significant number of people worry about expressing their point of view on platforms like Twitter. One concern is that such open-ness might negatively impact their job prospects; another is the fear of online attack from those holding a contrary opinion.

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A Big Hello To My Detractors

This is not a political blog. It may be irritatingly opinionated, annoyingly smug, depressingly backward-looking and insufferably pompous but it isn’t political. So, apologies for using a political issue as the framework for what follows.

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Room For All

Who would have thought it? Imagine yourself back in the early days of media agencies. Buying shops, one and all. The biggest got the best deals, because…well because the biggest always got the best deals regardless of the industry. Planning was front-of-house window dressing. Research was for geeks. Just walk around swinging your wedge and you’ll be OK.

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A Sense of Perspective

There’s nothing like a break (this is the first Cog Blog for about 4 weeks) to give one a sense of perspective. Stumbling around Mexican archaeological sites wondering how the Mayans managed to track astrological movements so incredibly accurately 1,000 or so years ago creates an even greater sense of wonder than the average programmatic conference (most of which only feel like they’ve lasted that long).

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Clients, Clients

When I was a mere Coglet, two of my formative clients were Kellogg’s and VW. It would be hard to pick two better clients to grow up with.

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In or Out Housing

In-housing, whereby the advertiser takes over certain functions traditionally handled by their media agency is in vogue. The key drivers are the recognition that data is a valuable asset best developed internally, the growth of direct selling by the major media vendors and platforms, the availability of talent, and a lack of trust in certain agency behaviours.

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Context and Platforms

Everybody seems agreed that the context within which ads appear is an important factor in determining performance. This was not always accepted as being the case. At least it’s progress from the blind following of ever-larger, and ever-more-meaningless numbers.

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What Are Agencies For?

Media agencies are facing a major challenge – from media vendors going direct, and from their clients setting up in-house operations. And that’s to name but two. It’s a good time to ask what exactly are agencies for?

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This Much I’ve Learned – Part Two: People

I’ve been in the ad business almost 50 years, starting as a messenger in an ad agency in the days when the UK had one commercial TV channel, no commercial radio stations and precious little in the way of formal training for budding agency staff. Despite myself I’ve absorbed lessons, and so from time to time I’m going to devote the Cog Blog to attempting to summarise a few things I’ve learned.

This one focuses on people. What follows could have been much longer and included real-life examples (and will be if I ever bother to work this up into a speech!). The first post, on what I’ve learned about agencies is here. Read more

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Time to Support Journalists

I’ve always admired journalists. This goes back to my days as a Coglet, when I fondly imagined a future life as a travelling sports journalist; continued through a stint as the account director on ‘The Observer’ (winning creative awards); right through to today when I watch with admiration as investigative reporters like Peter Jukes and Carole Cadwalladr refuse to be deflected or intimidated.

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Peak Media

We seem to have hit peak media.

Times change; principles don’t. The trick is still to put the right message in front of the right people, at the right time and at the right price. These days we are so focussed on points 2, 3 and 4 on that list that we spend less time worrying and thinking about point 1.

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Stanley the Influencer

Call me a dinosaur, someone so out of touch with today’s media world as to be but a distant spot in the rear-view mirror of today’s electrically-powered, driverless transportation module, but I really don’t get the fuss about online influencers.

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The Best A Man — You Know The Rest

I rather like the Gillette ad, and as it would appear to be a legal requirement for everyone in the industry to have a point of view, and to make sure that everyone else knows what it is, here’s mine.

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Welcome Back To The Past

Well, that didn’t last long. Remember all that talk from network agencies about buying plans instead of justifying agency deals, of negotiating client-by-client, and their greater focus on planning, research and insight?

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End of a Cycle

A version of this post appeared on Mediatel’s Newsline on December 18th

It’s usual in these future looking pieces to exaggerate both the problems and the opportunities. But it really is no exaggeration to say that 2019 will be a critical year for media agencies – and, in particular for the network agencies.

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WPP (Re)Discovers Creativity

A shorter version of this post appeared on Mediatel’s Newsline on 11th December

One of the hoariest clichés you’ll ever hear about the ad business is that the assets go up and down every day in the lift. Even today when the lift is equipped with the latest AI algorithms it’s still the people that make it go.

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Not All Data Is Fake

I’m not sure when this happened, but whenever it was it seems to be an ever more popular pastime to call out what some identify as fake data.

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