Money, Power and Influence in Measurement

Today’s post finds inspiration in ‘The Sound of Music’, and Morecambe and Wise.

‘Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start’, as Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers had it.

In the very beginning, media space was in such short supply you took what you could get. But as restrictions eased, new media forms emerged and the media business grew, those responsible for spending advertising money needed some indication of who was doing the watching and the reading.

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Success in Media Agencies

Re-reading old Cog Blogs I’m struck by how often I criticise agencies. To be fair, the behaviour of many of the largest over the years has not made that particularly hard to do, but it’s no bad thing to balance shouting with an offer of pragmatic advice.

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Respect

A week or so ago a rarity appeared in my LinkedIn feed. A (beautifully written) piece from an ex-media agency strategist called Anthony Swede outlining his worries and concerns about the media agency business. In case it’s passed you by you can read it here.

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Measuring Everything That Communicates

Last week’s Cog Blog post made the point that everything a brand or company puts out there is in effect an ad. Everything communicates; everything a brand says, for good or ill contributes to what we think of that brand. Which leads to the inevitable question: which communication channels work best, which do the business good (or harm), which need to be invested in and which avoided at all costs?

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Everything Communicates

It’s a truism that everything a brand or company puts out there is in effect an ad. To quote William Randolph Hearst (as opposed to his alter ego, Citizen Kane): “News is something somebody doesn’t want printed; all else is advertising.”

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In Context

In recent weeks I have had some small insight into what it must be like to be a world-renowned epidemiologist, seeing your field diminished to ignorant tweets and online comments from those with a fraction of a fraction of my decades’ worth of knowledge and expertise. The reason? Suddenly it seems that everyone is an expert in media placement.

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An Industry Not At Ease

The more I look around, the more I read our trades, the more research I see the more I come to the conclusion that the ad business is not an industry at ease with itself. Doing strange things. Making decisions based solely on media metrics. Ignoring the biggest issues.

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No Cannes Do

We are a tone-deaf business sometimes. Consider the following unrelated facts. One, advertising is not trusted or liked by most consumers. Two, we are facing an unprecedented upheaval in the media available to advertisers, who owns these media, and how they’re used. Three, the debate on how to assess the value of the different media choices, singly and in combination is a live one. Four, the main industry protagonists have just spent a large chunk of change entering for and ‘attending’ the annual Cannes festival.

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Campaigning

Back in the olden days when people actually went to meetings, a common client refrain when the planners unveiled their thinking and the creatives the executions was: ‘Yes, but is it campaign-able?’

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GBNewbies

This week has seen the launch of the UK’s latest TV channel, GBNews, the brainchild of ex-News International executive Andrew Neil, funded for the most part by overseas entities.

GBNews has been dubbed our very own version of Fox News in terms of that channel’s political leanings. Whether it is or not isn’t the point of this post; the Cog Blog tries to steer clear of political comment.

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90% Right; 100% Wrong

Levels of attention, what that notion means in relation to ads, and how we should go about measuring it is having a bit of a moment. Hopefully it will be a moment that lasts years as this is clearly an important issue and raises matters of principle in how we go about the business of placing and evaluating advertising.

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Dentsu on Attention

There was a time when Carat was head and shoulders above every other media agency. Even their competitors said so. There were two main reasons for this: first, they were the biggest, and by a street the most entrepreneurial, as the original network was created by purchasing the leading media independent in each European market. And secondly they spent more on research and tools than anyone else.

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Time to Grow Up

Ever since early man emerged from his cave, invented fire and wondered aloud how he was going to spread the word of his wondrous invention to others, those responsible for doing the word-spreading have considered themselves hard done-by.

Agencies feel advertisers underpay them. They feel that their true worth is under-valued. They feel misunderstood, under-appreciated. They always have, they probably always will.

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Big Picture

We’ve all seen the chart, witnessed the presentation, heard the wails. Why do TV’s detractors always show an old-fashioned small screen encased in a wooden cabinet? What about the new technologically advanced 50” flat screen, hooked up to the home’s wifi that does everything, including making the tea in the morning (if only..)?

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Planning Stuff

Disclosure: BJ&A is a Co-Founder of Crater Lake and Company mentioned in this post.

Let’s talk about planning. Even better, let’s be clear what we mean by the word, then let’s talk about it.

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Half a Century

I have been doing this (whatever ‘this’ is) for a long time. In fact, it only struck me recently that I’ve been at it (whatever ‘it’ is) for more than half a century. I would have to be exceptionally stupid or maybe just arrogant not to have picked up one or two lessons along the way.

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In or Out Housing

In-housing is in the news. ‘Campaign’ has carried several stories around brand owners joining the ‘In-house agency club’; the magazine’s esteemed Editor-in-Chief, Gideon Spanier has written that this phenomenon is ‘here to stay and growing’.

Weirdly it was only last week that the Cog Blog was chuntering on about how good we are at polishing up new ideas and reinventing the wheel. So, let’s look at the history, and the pros and cons of clients doing it for themselves.

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Guilty Pleasures

I admit I do spend an inordinate amount of time scouting marketing experts’ posts on LinkedIn and the rest for new ideas, and these peoples’ opinions on old ideas. If I’m being paid for my opinion on something I like to think it’s important to stay as current as I can be (how else am I going to find things to rant about on here?). But as well as that I have to admit to enjoying seeing old thoughts resurrected, polished up and presented as the latest shiny thing.

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Something New – Introducing Crater Lake & Company

In 7 years of weekly posts I’ve never promoted anything in which I’m involved. Until now. This week three colleagues and I are pleased to announce the birth of a new business, a collective that pulls together market research, data analytics, media planning and measurement and creative strategy, and from the mass of data, insights and thinking delivers a cohesive story, a single clear narrative. We are Crater Lake & Co.

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Pay (For) Attention

Forgive me but today I’m going to start by reverting to examples from my past life in agencies. Remember paying a premium to be on a right-hand page within a magazine? Or to be first in break in the first break in the heavily promoted new TV drama? Or to be the last ad shown before the movie starts in the cinema?

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Media – Far Too Important …

When I worked in the US, the agency media director responsible for the McDonald’s business had a framed quote from the CMO on his office wall. It read: “Media is far too important to be left to media people.”

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Balance

We are living in a binary world. Black or white. Left or right. Hero or zero. Win or resign. We always used to decry the very idea of grey (our ex-PM, John Major was ridiculed for being ‘grey’) but right now the middle, the more tolerant, the compromise are all looking more and more appealing.

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Search and Reapply

I grew up on the Procter and Gamble account. If there’s one thing P&G do better than almost anyone is to follow their own advice based on their own experiences. They used to call this ‘Search and Reapply’.

Unilever had a similar mantra, ‘Steal with Pride’.

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Whither Cross-Media Measurement?

Fifteen months ago, in early November 2019, ISBA’s Director General, Phil Smith stood on the asi stage in Prague in front of the world’s top audience measurement practitioners and announced Project Origin, the advertiser trade body’s major cross-media measurement initiative.

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The Magician and the Wand

Last week’s Cog Blog post commented on the coincidental juxtaposing of the creative agency Mother’s entry into the media agency world, with Wavemaker’s launching of a super-optimiser capable of analysing masses of planning options very quickly.

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Ads or Algorithms

This week, while the rest of the industry was in post-Superbowl creative ad fever Wavemaker, the GroupM media agency announced a breakthrough. They’ve used artificial intelligence (big tick) to build a tool (called Maximise, obviously) that can analyse gazillions of media plan options in a nanosecond (I may have got those numbers wrong).

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Ethics and Objectivity

Disclosure: BJ&A has done work for the7stars, the agency mentioned below

It’s time to talk about the E word: Ethics.

The notion of ethics within media agency operations has been in the news this week with the release that GroupM has created a tool, called The Data Ethics Compass. This with some feedback (as ‘Campaign’ calls it) from Unilever.

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Reasons to be Cheerful

Heaven knows there’s plenty to be miserable about right now. Just as well The Cog Blog never gets into the really serious stuff, in favour of fussing around parochial ad business issues. But here we are, with revenues down, adspend dropping, job losses, businesses collapsing and so on.

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Lessons from Philips

Last week ‘Campaign’ reported that the Philips media business is up for review. The account has been largely held by Carat – they’ve held it for (I would estimate) 25 years, a good run by anyone’s standards, which may well continue. The news struck a chord – I led the international element on the team that pitched the business.

It was an important pitch – and not just because of the money. Carat had  other large international accounts, of course but Philips was one of, if not the first multi-geography client won from scratch (we didn’t have the business anywhere) by what was then a new management team.

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Off We Go..

Well, here we are again, a new year, full of hope, aspirations, and ambitions – even if a quick look outside as we emerge from our duvets seems to confirm that things are still horrible, a pandemic is still raging, democracy is still under threat, and the old issues of 2020 have not mysteriously disappeared.

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