Ring the Bell

Last week I had the pleasure of having lunch with Bob Hoffman, aka the AdContrarian. Bob has decided to stop his weekly blog posts (although he will continue writing and speaking) – which is a loss for the industry as a whole and something of a disaster for me given the number of times the Cog Blog has been inspired by his work.

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Encouraging Talent

This week’s Ad Association report that the number of people working in advertising and marketing has fallen by 14% in 3 years is concerning.

As The Media Leader reports: “HR leaders across the industry have advised that skill shortages have been most acute at entry-level and at mid-level (people 3-5 years into their careers)”.

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An Epistle from the Heathens

I often catch myself staring out of my office window. My garden shed is I admit dull, but when the option is to read still more on developments within the US TV audience measurement world, its permanence reassures.

For those not fully up-to-speed with this issue, this post is here to provide a cynical (and I suppose I should make clear not a literally accurate) point-of-view.

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Hope

I’m an optimist; it is with hope that the Cog Blog returns for the New Year. I don’t make grandiose predictions for the year ahead, like everyone else I haven’t got a clue what will happen except that it will likely be unexpected

But I can offer hope. Here’s my 2022 list of eight. Are there still grounds for hope?

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A Christmas Tale

For the last few Christmases the Cog Blog has published, as our last effort of the year, a post based on a fairy story. Hope you enjoy it.

Once upon a time there were two children, a brother and sister called Pronsel and Gratel. They lived with their parents in a little village on the edge of a forest.

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What Matters

One hundred years ago McCann Erickson was founded on the positioning ‘Truth Well Told’; although when that line was first written I don’t suppose anybody labelled it as ‘a positioning statement’.

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Everyone’s An Expert

Everyone is an expert in two things – his or her own job, and advertising. This is hardly a new thought; nor is it particularly original. Everyone has an opinion. We might as well be politicians. Or football managers. 

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It’s All Advertising

Lord Northcliffe, the UK newspaper tycoon who owned ‘The Daily Mail’ famously said: “News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.” An unknown consumer said: “It’s all advertising, isn’t it?”

One of my favourite quotes comes (of course) from Jeremy Bullmore: “People build brands the way birds build nests. Through the straw and scraps they chance upon.” Note, it is people who build brands.

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An Existential Threat

This week’s post builds on remarks I made from the stage at last week’s asi Audience Measurement Conference in Nice. 

I make no apology for revisiting material I shared when we last met in person in 2019. We are not progressing sufficiently in addressing the big issues, and we need to ensure we protect the consensual principles we have applied to the majority of industry audience measurement for decades. 

I felt that then, I feel it now. 

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Mind The Gap

Next week many of the most influential thinkers in audience measurement will gather in Nice for the annual asi Conference. I say ‘many’ as there will be the inevitable shortage of agency representation (‘we spent our budgets in Cannes…’) and despite an admirable turn-out from ISBA there will not be many advertisers present either. 

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Speak Softly

Last week’s Cog Blog highlighted the tragic case of Molly Russell, who took her own life at least in part as a result of being exposed to certain vile images on social media. If you missed the post, you can read it here.

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What’s It Got To Do With Us?

When I was at college, I remember being told by our advertising lecturer that we should not take responsibility for society’s ills. We were there to help our clients sell stuff; if the people buying our stuff were evil, well that is the way of the world. 

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In Confusion

Irwin Gotlieb, ex-boss of GroupM used to say (and I paraphrase): ‘In confusion lies margin.’ However much you may admire Irwin, a man who achieved a huge amount in the industry and did more than most to change it you must admit this is the view of a cynic. 

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Careful What You Wish For

Disclosure: I will be chairing a session at the asi Conference in November, mentioned here 

There has been much ‘end of an era’ talk in the UK this last week for obvious reasons. We also have a new Government which from early evidence seems to believe in ideological change-for-change’s sake, whatever the evidence from the past. 

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Change Happens Slowly …

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually, then suddenly.”  Ernest Hemingway ‘The Sun Also Rises’.

Or, to put it another way, change happens slowly, then all at once.

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On Reach

The concept of reach is having something of a moment. It seems as if when challenged on metrics like impressions or ratings, many practitioners, who surely should know better start pivoting towards reach. 

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Shooting the Messenger

These are challenging times for media channels. Politics has become increasingly divisive in many countries, leading to accusations of bias from both sides of the divide in how the media reports.

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Lessons from a Career – Part Three

At the beginning of this year, I said I would use the Cog Blog platform to publish some lessons learned over the course of my career. My plan was to do four posts over the year, one a quarter, to try to stick to one key lesson per post, and to use examples. I have been at this a long time (over 50 years) and would have to be a complete fool not to have picked up a few tips along the way. 

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The Benefits of Origin and How to Fund It

A version of this post was published by Mediatel on 9th August.

I confess to being a fan of Origin, ISBA’s cross-media audience measurement initiative. I believe advertisers’ active involvement in measuring audiences is a good thing – in fact I would go further and say it’s essential. I also think ISBA are leading, clearing the path for others to follow. Before getting into why, it’s important to state that I am not an ISBA member; I’m not involved in Origin in any professional capacity; and I have no inside track. What follows are my thoughts, and mine alone on how such a service might develop.

My only qualifications for even commenting are, first I have been around long enough to remember the launch of several major audience measurement initiatives (including BARB and the TGI) as a user; and I happened to be on stage at the annual asi event in Prague three years ago when Phil Smith, ISBA’s DG launched Origin.

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Words Still Matter

Last week’s post went on a rant about the industry’s obsession with big numbers and our apparent lack of concern over misusing terms. It moved on to discussing how our US friends have got to the point where they are considering multiple currencies to measure video audiences. 

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