This is the last Cog Blog post of 2016, so it seems appropriate (even mandatory) to look back at some of the highlights (and lowlights) of this year. Read more
15 December 2016
08 December 2016
We’re living in a world that is becoming ever-more binary. Never mind that in life most things are nuanced, with light and shade, pros and cons on both sides of any argument. Today you have 140 words to express your opinion. In the echo chamber that is social media if you don’t agree with me, in my eyes you’re wrong. Read more
28 November 2016
It may seem an odd time to praise the research industry. After all, when it came to the two most significant public votes this year (the EU Referendum here and the US Presidential Election there), the market research industry managed to call both wrong. It’s hardly that they were even multiple choice, both were in effect ‘yes’/‘no’ questions. Read more
17 November 2016
Last week in the UK, Lego, prompted by an online consumer campaign called Stop Funding Hate put out a statement that they would no longer be doing business with ‘The Daily Mail’. The campaign described the newspaper’s editorial position thus: (they) “create a distrust of foreigners” and “blame immigrants for everything”. Read more
10 November 2016
The first element within the ANA’s enquiry into agency rebates and other alleged malpractices was published back in June and contained the results of 150 confidential interviews with media practitioners. Its conclusions may have surprised many advertisers but I am yet to find anyone with an agency background who was shocked by the findings. Read more
01 November 2016
There are indications that working in advertising agencies/media agencies isn’t as much fun as it used to be. Whilst it’s easy to say that that applies to almost any endeavour, there are reasons for those of us who care at all for the future of the industry to be concerned. Read more
27 October 2016
Disclaimer: Although I will be chairing a session at the asi Conference mentioned here I have no commercial interest in either asi or the event.
Last week’s post touched on the importance of accurate, independent audience measurement. The reasons are clear; the joint industry or JIC system, used widely except in the USA (where a collaborative approach comes to much the same thing) may date back years but it has without question benefited the industry as a whole.
20 October 2016
People in media agencies are sometimes guilty of the sort of short-term behaviours they hate in their clients. Look online, or in the trade press and you’ll see a queue pontificating on the latest gadget, the newest tool, or today’s management insight.
10 October 2016
Anyone who ever glances at Linkedin will know that in amongst the recruitment requests, the company updates, the PR boasts and the occasional useful link are numerous thought pieces telling us all how to do our jobs better.
29 September 2016
Disclaimer: I worked at Aegis for 6 years from 1994 – 2000.
It has not been a good few weeks, months or even years for Dentsu Aegis Network and its constituent parts. Last week Dentsu in Japan admitted that they have been over-charging a large number of their clients (111 is the current number but that could rise), including Toyota for online advertising. This has reportedly been going on for a number of years. Dentsu are admitting guilt since 2012; one of my ex-client contacts suggests it goes back a good 10 years before then.
22 September 2016
Returning from a short break it seems from reading the various reports on the Omnicom win of McDonald’s in the USA that a recalibration of the agency/client business model has snuck up on us. Read more
06 September 2016
No Cog Blog this week as we’re away on a short break. Back next week.
01 September 2016
You have to admit it: Omnicom has been on a bit of a run. Read more
26 August 2016
18 August 2016
Suddenly the T word is all around us. We are in a crisis of trust; trust has broken down between agency and client; consumers no longer trust advertising (did they ever?); the lack of trust is responsible for the growth in adblockers. And so it goes on. Read more
11 August 2016
I’m yet to come across an advertiser interested above all else in buying rating points or impressions. Advertisers advertise in order to make more money, it’s as simple and as obvious as that. Read more
04 August 2016
28 July 2016
21 July 2016
In case we forget, advertising agencies used to be driven very largely by media availabilities. Buyers would visit well-known Fleet Street pubs, and negotiate space with the leading newspapers of the day. The question was less about what they paid and more about whether they got any of the restricted and rationed space at all.
14 July 2016
Imagine you’re running a media agency. You’re great at your job (the trade press and your peers within the industry tell you so); you’ve been doing it for a number of years and have delivered substantial success to your owners.
07 July 2016
Newspapers in the UK have had a good war; sales were reportedly up by about 20% at the height of the Brexit debate which rather gives the lie to those believing there is no role for the printed medium in this digital age. Unfortunately for newspapers, but very fortunately for the rest of us Brexit debates don’t come along all that often. Read more
01 July 2016
This week I was looking forward to posting something uplifting and positive following the depressing litany of the agencies’ alleged misdemeanours as outlined in the ANA transparency report, and then along comes a far more serious threat to the industry’s well-being, as the UK votes to leave the European Union. Read more
23 June 2016
Politicians of every persuasion have been popping up all over UK screens for weeks. These appearances have highlighted one reason why they are universally unpopular: they never seem to answer the question they’ve been asked, preferring to answer the question they want to answer. Read more
16 June 2016
It’s been about a week since the ANA’s report into transparency hit the best seller lists. Lest we forget (and judging from some of the less temperate comments flying around some seem to have forgotten) the report was titled: ‘An Independent Study of Media Transparency in the U.S. Advertising Industry’. It was not titled ‘Why Advertisers Hate the Holding Companies’, nor ‘We Name the Guilty Parties’.
09 June 2016
A shorter version of this post appeared on Mediatel’s Newsline on 7th June
The first of two ANA reports has landed, containing the results of 150 interviews conducted by the investigators K2 with ‘marketers, media suppliers, ad tech vendors, current and former advertising and media agency professionals, trade association executives, industry consultants, attorneys, barter company employees, and post-production professionals’. Read more
02 June 2016
The ad business it is generally accepted is in a hole. A large part of the industry is not trusted by those who pay for it and whose interests it exists to serve. Digital advertising is generally so poor that consumers go out of their way to avoid it. So-called precision targeting starts to get close to an invasion of privacy. Fingers are being pointed, mud is being slung. How on earth did we get into this mess? Read more
26 May 2016
One of the most common errors, and we all make it is failing to learn from history. Even if history isn’t quite as much bunk as Henry Ford would have had us believe, each generation decides that they know best and that this time it will be different. Read more
17 May 2016
Hello – no Cog Blog post this week as I am on holiday. Enjoy the break from being berated by me..
12 May 2016
One of the reasons why this blog is read as often and as widely as it is comes down to the fact that I am in a position to express my views on anyone and everything. I’m lucky enough to be able to write things that others might very well think but feel unable to express, at least not publicly. Read more
05 May 2016
It was 1993. Carat was the dominant agency in France, with 11 separate agencies in different central Paris locations. In the US (where I lived and worked at the time) the all-powerful full-service agencies’ media heads referred sneeringly to ‘the French disease’: buying media in bulk, packaging the inventory up and reselling it to clients without revealing the margin. Read more
29 April 2016
22 April 2016
14 April 2016
A version of this post appeared on Mediatel’s Newsline on April 5th
Pity the poor communications planner, buffeted this way and that by the latest fads and the hottest trends, by variable research and more and more data, by clients who it seems want more and more for less and less, and by traders who ignore their beautifully crafted plans to buy whatever they fancy from anyone prepared to give them a deal.
07 April 2016
It’s become common-place to criticise agencies for not changing their business model, as if this was the sort of thing anyone could do between breakfast and lunchtime.
31 March 2016
It may just be my imagination but we haven’t been hearing quite so much from our old friends the agency trading desks lately.
24 March 2016
The media business really doesn’t do considered moderation. “Twitter is the marketing tool of the future.” “Twitter is finished.” “Social media marketing is the answer to all of mankind’s problems.” “Social media couldn’t sell an iceberg to a polar bear.” “TV is dead”. “TV revenues continue to grow.”
And so on. Read more
17 March 2016
The adblocking issue doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. You can always tell when a subject is discussed at numerous conferences that it’s becoming a part of the furniture. Talking about it is so much easier than fixing it.
10 March 2016
I receive all sorts of junk mail. In amongst the ones congratulating me on being voted an International Woman of Distinction, and the un-turn-down-able offers to train to be a certified nurse are those selling me various ‘sophisticated’ email marketing services. Just the thing for my business you would have thought, although the authors do rather let themselves down by addressing me by the wrong name, and assuming BJ&A sells manufacturing equipment. Read more
04 March 2016
‘The Independent’ and its sister ‘The Independent on Sunday’ have announced that they will cease to exist in paper form from later this month. Both will become digital-only titles. The stable’s little sibling ‘The i’ will be sold to Johnson Press where one imagines it will continue in print form. Read more
24 February 2016
First up this week – a need to set the record straight. A couple of weeks ago I was critical of ‘Campaign’ over its (lack of) reporting of the implications around programme content being included in a deal between GroupM and Channel4. I wrote that ‘Campaign’ should have investigated further. Well, now they have, and so credit is due to Gideon Spanier and to ‘Campaign’ for doing so. Read more
17 February 2016
When I lived and worked in the USA I promised myself that I would never start a sentence in any professional meeting with the four words: ‘In the UK we…’. When I started this blog I made myself a similar promise – never start a post with the words: ‘There used to be…’. Read more
11 February 2016
02 February 2016
The argument between advertisers and media agencies in the USA over transparency rumbles on. Earlier Cog Blogs have commented on advertisers’ concerns over the agencies’ media buying practices, and their hiring (via their trade body the ANA) of two consultancies to look into the whole matter of where the money goes. Read more
28 January 2016
Almost four weeks into the year and already two of my hopes for 2016 lie in tatters.
Way, way back on January 6th (remember then? It was great to be alive wasn’t it? Such an air of optimism, such an air of hope) I said I hoped that 2016 would see agencies change behaviours from making money unofficially to proving their worth to clients and getting paid fairly by them.
21 January 2016
14 January 2016
This week I was very flattered to be asked to address the annual conference of the Portuguese advertiser association, APAN. These comments reflect some of the remarks I made there. Read more