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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The Gospel According to Gary

Nobody in the UK ad business has ever heard of Gary Vaynerchuk. I know this as I’ve employed a research technique beloved by Gary himself: I asked a few people I know. Admittedly these people were gathered at the asi conference on audience measurement but, hey.

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Filling the Data Consultancy Vacuum

This post is in-part based on remarks made by me at the 2018 asi Conference

Last week was the annual asi International TV and Video Conference, held this year in Athens. The asi has become an institution: it’s been held 28 years’ consecutively, with this year’s delegates (and speakers) coming from countries as diverse as Russia, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, the USA, many mainland European markets, the Nordics and the UK.

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In-Housing Threatens Agencies

Who would be an agency these days? Pitch after pitch after pitch, controversy after controversy, new vendors every time you turn around, competition from (comparatively) new entrants. It’s no life for someone after a quiet life, that’s for sure.

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The Past Is All Around Us

Disclosure: BJ&A has done work for both Suzuki and the7stars

 It’s been a good few weeks for the old git community, even the Cynical Old Gits in honour of whom the Cog Blog is named. We’ve had the 30th anniversary of Zenith, the first of the media agencies to be spun off from the old full-service ad agency model; ‘Campaign’s 50th birthday; and only this week the 30th anniversary of the demise of the first real agency I worked in, Davidson Pearce.

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This Much I’ve Learned – Part One: Agencies

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, and no commercial radio stations. 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.

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On Trust and Planning

Disclosure: BJ&A has done consultancy work for the7stars

 The latest survey by the media consultancy ID Comms on the degree to which advertisers trust their media agencies showed the lowest numbers yet with only 10% of advertisers rating trust in their media agency as ‘high’ or ‘very high’. 40% say that the level of trust is ‘low’, as against 29% a year ago.

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