Category Archives: Advertising

The Best-Ever Publishing Festival Line Up

PPA-festival-line-upI’m producer of the two big content streams at this year’s PPA festival, where along with CEO Barry McIlheney and his team we’ve put together the most fantastic line-up. Four stages, 60 speakers, CEO’s, MD’s Facebook, Google and…Mushpit!

The festival is Thursday May 12th, there’s still a few tickets left, buy them here.

Five good links

Five-must-reads11From the FT, Adland’s continuing existential crisis, along with good observations as to how brands grow.

Twitter’s troubles, by Emily Bell along with a deeper dive from The Atlantic.

Story of the year; facebook’s interest in AI is going to become our reality. Posts from The Mail and The Guardian.

DC Thomson’s Jacqueline Wilson magazine goes Dyslexia friendly. A brilliant use of a really smart typography.

Dave Trott on the trouble with ‘content’.

Small, but perfectly formed

Facebook_Reactions3x2Here are the crisp new emoticons facebook is planning on us all using anytime soon. Will they give a better user experience? Maybe.

Will facebook aggressively sell the ‘nuanced responses’ to brand content that these emoticons might generate? Certainly.

facebook-emoticonsHere’s Mr Zuckerberg himself explaining how they work, using what the new pressure sensitive iPhone UI. This is a game changer in itself. Once the device in our hands starts responding to a nuanced range of physical gestures, it’s ability to express our feelings is significantly improved.

This is hardly AI, but it sure shows which way the river is running.

Fifteen hot links

20120826-Moncton_SetlistHandwritten1. This is one of Springsteen’s many back-of-an-envelope set lists, emotional, personal, and totally uneditable. So here’s my post for InPublishing on Wunderlist, the world’s best make-a-list app.

2. What do you believe in? And what are you going to do about it? Good post about how brands create trust.

3. ‘Sticky content’ bullshit. And ten other content marketing buzzwords from SXSW.

4. Seventy eight places to find free, high quality marketing images.

5. Ace photojournalist Giles Duley is setting off on his biggest project ever. Here’s an interview with him at Time all about ‘Legacy of War’

6. How Marriott Hotels aim to become the world’s largest producer of travel content.

7. Look out! How programatic trading allowed these ads to run before ISIS propaganda videos.

8. Super bitchy, and super well informed. Michael Wolff on the new Guardian editor.

9. Buzzfeed really is the new king of the world. Here’s fine insight into how that happened, along with more detail on their social strategybusiness model, ethical standards and The Dress.

10. How the Economist has stayed ahead of the digital curve.

11. Here’s a blog post headline writing template!

12. Uber releases an in-house magazine.

13. Upworthy’s co-founder on clickbait.

14. Haters ahoy! Wired redesigns its website.

15. Good post on magculture about the surge in magazine podcasts.

How to produce pointless stories, devoid of meaningful value or engagement

packed-office-desksIn an extensive interview last week the legendary marketer Seth Godin lamented the ‘industrialisation of content’. He said: ‘As soon as organisations start to measure stuff and poke it into a piece of software, then we are asking people who don’t care to work their way through a bunch of checklists to make a number go up’.

He’s making the argument for editors, as opposed to brand managers. ‘A brand can’t care’ says Seth, ‘all that can care is people.

seth-godinSeth is famous for his book ‘Permission Marketing’, still regarded as the key text on how to engage consumers online. Here’s his definition: ‘Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them’

Seth’s view now is that ‘being trusted is the single most urgent way to build a business’. If you’re paying for content, then trust is acknowledged the moment money changes hands. But as I’ve written previously, when content is essentially free, trust has to be earned.

Because without it, we’re just looking at spam.

With the decline of one-way advertising as the only way to reach and influence large audiences, marketers and ad agencies are now trying to take ‘content’ and see if that will do the job for them.

However, as Saatchi’s strategy director Richard Huntingdon points out in his recent ‘Guano Marketing’ post, content is now being ‘ordered by the yard, with quality of no consequence’.

In a fabulously ranty post he declares: ‘Never in the field of human endeavour has so much crap sat on client servers to be consumed by so few’.

crap-contentEven content marketers themselves say similar, witness this slideshare from Velocity simply entitled ‘Crap’.

I quite agree. The term ‘content’ has had all the joy flattened out of it, crushed by the need for a single description to describe ideas of every kind shared across every platform.

But let’s not shoot the messenger here. The word may be totally inadequate, but that doesn’t mean the passion, authority, service and sheer fun of the exchanges behind it are redundant.

The opposite is in fact the case. Our society may have been founded on storytelling, but right now, our appetite for powerful ideas, inspiring  images, big thoughts, true feelings and passionate opinions has never been greater.

With the reluctance of people to pay directly for magazines and newspapers, the word ‘editorial’ has fallen out of favour in recent years.

You only have to visit linkedin to see how many journalists have rushed to replace it with ‘content’ in order to stress their digital credentials. I make no apology for doing the same, currently there being no better way of saying ‘I present stories to be shared digitally’.

The question is, what exactly are we sharing?

If it’s a genuine point of view, delivered in a relatable tone, with ideas that add value, either practically, or on a deeper emotional level, then readers will react.

They still need to know who’s doing the talking, as ‘editorial’ is explicitly the voice of the storyteller, not the paymaster. But if clarity around brand is maintained, then real connections will be made, real feeling will be created and real action taken.

howard-gossageAs for advertising, the words of Howard Gossage, the original Mad Man still hold true: ‘People will read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad’.

 

Seven Must-see, Must-read Links

Was8877923How headlines change what we think. From The New Yorker, of course.

This is great, the way price affects what and how we buy. From the Atlantic.

The best stories from Wired in 2014. All in one handy link.

Jeff Jarvis thinks very deeply about the future of journalism on Medium.

Time Inc. USA makes strenuous efforts to be seen as a technology business, reports Business Insider.

Meanwhile, Colin Morrison has produced this immensely detailed account of  Time Inc’s business, culminating in the prediction that Evelyn Webster will end up running the whole she-bang  sooner rather than later.

Then again, David Carr in The New York Times, speculates Time Inc. will all be sold to Meredith next year.

Is Your Content Going Down The Toilet? Here Are Three Things You Can do About it

clickbait-logoCrap. That’s the word that begins content marketing agency Velocity’s slideshare, now downloaded over half a million times. Their argument is that so much content is now being produced by marketers, social media agencies, production companies and PR’s that it’s inevitable we’re all going to drown in a flood of content that’s just plain rubbish. (Brilliantly skewered by Clickhole, logo above)

It’s a good looking dek, but at the end, when I was expecting there to be an antidote to this tide of garbage swilling around my ankles, I discovered that their answer was… ‘Raise your game’.

So what does this platitude actually mean? It’s an important question, because unless we work it out, trust in journalism, publishing and the brands we serve will just melt away. And without trust we have nothing.

Storytelling may be the basis of human experience, but it means diddly-squit if the source is untrustworthy. See more

Five must-see, must-read links

vogue-2014-september-issuePrint not dead etc. Here’s the 856 page September issue from Vogue. Image from Arem Duplessis.

A stunning analysis from New York magazine of how Time Inc got into its current situation. So well reported you get the idea that they were in the room. And for the really keen, here’s Pando Daily’s analysis of the analysis.

Minimum Viable Personality. A brilliant explanation to why trust is the only thing that matters in any content strategy. Thanks to Andy P. for the link

Editorial will eat itself: discuss. Here’s Michael Brenner, content marketing ‘guru’ explaining ‘how brands can remain human when native and ad-tech collide’.

More shouting about native advertising over at Digiday

How the launch of Hearst’s Town & Country will help give Putin some manners

Quuen-putinIn her editors’ letter, Justine Picardie claims that the time is right for launch of Town & Country on account of  ‘a tidal wave of global wealth that is pouring into London’. She acknowledges the enduring appeal of traditional Britain, but make no mistake, it’s the international rich that advertisers want here, as opposed to a bunch of Downton fans.

Town & Country has been published in America since 1846, where, without a royal family, money really is the true indicator of social status. The big idea behind the UK edition is that this is increasingly the norm over here. If you can afford to buy your way into the highest echelons of English society, Town & Country will show you how to walk the walk.

Extreme wealth has never been a guarantee of social acceptability. The great English essayist G.K. Chesterton once said: “The rich…are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it”

Whether this describes Vladimir Putin is neither here nor there, but we do need to know if Town & Country will succeed in its business of turning new money into old school charm. See more

The right rail is history. MPU’s are finished. The New York Times has chucked them out, so it must be true.

The New York Times website has just re-designed, the big news being  that with 700,000 paying subscribers, the brand feels confident enough to reduce reliance on display advertising, and concentrate instead on sponsored content. There’s been tons of comment on this, notably at Business Insider, from where I pinched the screen grabs below.

The fact of the matter, is that we’ve taught everyone that what happens in the ‘right rail’ is commercial nonsense and of no consequence. So no-body looks at it. (Although I would like to direct coverthinkers to my own right right rail, just over …there).

This screen grab shows the same story, but now with content extended across the full site width. In addition, they’ve also cleared out a load of clutter and replaced it with, shock horror, white space!

There are now dedicated areas for sponsored content, or ‘paid posts’ as the NYT likes to call them. This is best explained at Ad Age, where there are good details of  extraordinary lengths the Times is going to in order to make clear the distinction between this content and NYT editorial. Ad Age says that sponsored content will be visible through their own site search, but when I looked for this Dell article about millenials shunning the office, I couldn’t find it.

Many commentators like the new site, but like me, are frustrated by the lack of change on the homepage. Most readers may well land on an article page, but as a marketing opportunity, making a bigger move here would really help consolidate the gains elsewhere.

CNN make the bold claim that this redesign is the future of publishing. That may, or may not be true. But what is a fact is that sponsored content is here to stay, it’s just a question of how publishers can manage the fine balance with church and state. I’m grateful to David Bostock from Bauer, who has tweeted this excellent link on the 12 different ways publishers explain native advertising to their readers. And here’s the excellent Emily Bell, with her observations on the transparency of sponsored content in The Guardian.

In America, Hearst have made great strides with branded content under ex SAY Media boss Troy Young, who has just hired my old Conde Nast Mademoiselle colleague Kate Lewis as VP of content and editorial director. My suspicion is, that with her superb CV as guardian of editorial excellence, one of her biggest jobs will be to keep skittish editors in line.