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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Words Matter, Big Numbers Less So

Words matter. We all know that and yet within the media world we use the same word to mean different things. Further, and worryingly we don’t let on that this is the case, thus causing confusion and misunderstandings. 

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Advertisers Doing It For Themselves

There are certain topics that recur in the trade press. There’s ad spend forecasts, awards, people news, new business wins and in-housing. Us bloggers have our favourites: in my case, transparency, planning, and the various evils visited upon us by online platforms. And in-housing. 

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Cannes Reflections From a Non-Attender

The room fell silent. ‘Would you like to introduce yourself?’ ‘Yes, my name is Brian and I didn’t go to Cannes this year.’ Sympathetic murmurings. ‘In fact to be quite honest with you …’ Sounds of encouragement. ‘… I’ve never been, and I’ve never regretted not going either.’ Mumblings of ‘well done … that must have taken a lot to admit … sit yourself down … here’s a glass of rose’.

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Lessons from a Career – Part Two

Back in March I wrote: “From time to time … I’m going to do my best to share some lessons learned (over my career). I’ll try to stick to one per post, and to illustrate with examples”. When all’s said and done, 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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Media Entrepreneurs

Not so many years ago, around 2005/2010 (yesterday in my terms; just after the ice age to some) the media agency world was pretty straightforward. If we set aside the specialists – those who do a great B2B job, or who run an agency handling local advertisers – pretty well the only game in town for large advertisers was that delivered by the large holding companies.

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In-Housing and Trust

A few weeks ago an old colleague (and loyal Cog Blog reader) Florence Waterman posed an interesting question. Paraphrasing, she wondered why so many advertisers use influencers, without it seems much evidence, or data to justify their decision? After all, most spending is subject to a certain rigour.

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Essence and MediaCom

GroupM has announced that Essence and MediaCom are joining forces to form a new media agency. EssenceMediaCom is a bit of a mouthful, not to mention a challenge to users of random capital letters but no doubt the new agency will soon have a shorter nickname – EM, EssenceofMedia or given the end goal of strengthening MediaCom, E=MC2.

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The Channel or The Star?

I was always taught that people watch content, not channels. There are caveats to that lesson – not least because when I was taught it there were quite literally two TV channels. I believe there are more now.

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Ask a Blogger: Netflix, Context, Measurement, Attention, Pitches and Twitter

This week’s post is in the form of a Q&A in which I opine on a number of matters apparently of great import to our industry (based unscientifically on frequency of appearance in my social media feeds).

And other stuff that bugs me.

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Buy The Plan

These are turbulent times for the usually stable and insulated world of audience measurement. Some of this is about blaming the messenger (I would say a lot of the current US debate around Nielsen comes down to a desire to push bigger numbers into the buying market), but a far more significant debate is taking place around control and funding.

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Keeping It Real

DISCLOSURE: BJ&A IS A FOUNDER OF THE CRATER LAKE COLLECTIVE MENTIONED IN THIS POST

I am, as those who read The Cog Blog regularly know, a fan of keeping things simple. I believe that life is complicated enough without us adding to it by using long words where shorter ones will do, or inventing technologies that nobody except those doing the inventing want or need.

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Lessons From a Career – Part One

I started in this business at the tail end of the 1960’s, which is a very long time ago. I’ve been an ad agency messenger, a desk researcher, market researcher, media person, entrepreneur, consultant. I’ve done UK, regional and global jobs, here and from the US. I’ve been pretty rubbish at some of these things; better at others. I would though have had to be incredibly thick not to have learnt a little along the way.

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On Origin

ISBA (the UK advertisers’ trade organisation) is on the hunt for a CEO for Origin, the third in the project’s comparatively short history. I am a fan of Origin, or rather what Origin could become – unlike some in the audience measurement community. Here’s why.

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Stand Up, Speak Up

Last week’s post was all about keeping it simple, a principle that we often forego in favour of the (in my view) short-term belief that (to steal from Irwin Gotlieb) in confusion lies margin. The tech industry has as usual ignored history and is merrily pursuing its aim to confuse the life out of anyone not a member of the magic circle.

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Keep It Simple

One of the challenges in writing this blog is keeping myself comparatively up to date. When I originally came up with the name Cog Blog, ‘COG’ stood for Cynical Old Git. Today’s post focusses on the ‘O’, the old bit.

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Why We Should Buy Better Boots

Whichever way you look at it, and whatever Oscar Wilde quotes about cost and value you use, the biggest problem faced by our industry at the moment lies in the primacy of short-term effects over long-term brand health.

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Make ‘Em Laugh

A much quoted Advertising Association number from long ago was that 51% of consumers preferred TV ads to the programmes in which they appeared. I don’t have up-to-date data but you can bet your life the equivalent number is now lower. A lot lower.

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The Primacy of the Client

Last week saw the UK Advertising Association’s Renew 2022 event, held jointly with the IPA (agencies) and ISBA (advertisers). In amongst excellent initiatives on growing and maintaining talent, and improving inclusiveness ISBA’s President, Peter Duffy, Moneysupermarket.com’s CEO updated delegates on Project Origin.

This is the cross-media measurement initiative launched by ISBA’s DG, Phil Smith at the asi event in Prague in 2019.

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On The BBC

The Cog Blog does not do politics. I also try to avoid parochialism – specific issues we may be facing here in the UK are often of little relevance to other parts of the world.

That said, today’s post will come close to breaking those two principles, as it’s about the BBC.

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Networks Not Notworks

Last week in my ‘Hopes for 2022’ post I mentioned that it would be fascinating to see how the newer network players, like Stagwell or You and Mr Jones (now recast as BrandTech) handle the challenges posed by a big international client using them across multiple geographies.

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Hopes Not Predictions

Another year, another blog; welcome to 2022; the Cog Blog’s ninth year of (almost) weekly witterings.

The fashionable thing to do would be to fill this post with forecasts of the year to come. I don’t do this for two reasons. First, things are so topsy-turvy who knows, secondly it’s easy to check back 12 months later to my embarrassment and everyone else’s general merriment.

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