The talent myth

“You can judge a man by what he is doing at 8PM”

I once read a low key forum post from a Japanese gentleman who shared his grandfather’s advice on life. There were a few points that have drifted away, but the one that lived with me was the idea of judging a person based on what they are doing at 8PM. What do they choose to spend their time on? 

You can judge a person by the choices they make. What a person chooses to do defines them. Not having the choice in the first place is not an excuse, your previous choices will put you in a position to make those decisions. I do not have the choice to play at Glastonbury or not because I have chosen

not to learn to play an instrument, to endure the practice sessions and chosen the right band members to play with. 

The caveat here is that not everyone has the same opportunities as a child and this influences the goings on later in life, but once we are in the media industry, we are massively privileged and the playing field is pretty level. 

So what are you doing at 8 tonight? Are you watching TV or out with friends? Are you reading or cleaning? Creating or learning? How will what you are doing make the biggest impact on the most people, including yourself? 

“The more I practise, the luckier I get”

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How close are we to the answer?

Half my money blah blah blah, don’t know which blah blah half.

The challenge we face in digital is that it is all measurable. If it is all measurable, then we measure it. Then we measure too much, we compare and contrast to squeeze the last bit of value out of our marketing push and we report on success on multiple factors. It is safe for a manager to report a weekly success due to a 5% increase in a micro factor, and as it is recorded by an ad-server it must be worth something. 

In the traditional channel world, where there are no cookies and no ad-servers, effectiveness is gauged by what brands actually want to do – true brand uplift measured by surveys & studies, and ultimately gross revenue. There have been attempts to try and connect ATL with digital to try and understand real time performance, but there is only so much QR codes, social buzz and voucher codes can reveal.

So what is the answer? In the immediate, digital will carry on being the awkward cousin of marketing as we try to break away and prove ourselves on our own metrics. We need to show we can hang with TVRs & eyeballs to demonstrate to traditional marketers the relevance of what we do.

In order to do this we need to target our target audience the highest quality, most impactful ads in the best environments. Behavioural targeting is/was a wonderful thing, but there is huge value in appearing in the content of a trustworthy brand, both to the user and to the marketer. For example, the reason a TV ad in X-Factor is the

clichéd golden goose is not just down to the sheer amount of impressions it will deliver. It is the association with premium – TV as a channel is premium, ITV is premium, and XFactor is (for the majority, the ones who are actually buying our stuff) premium viewing. Therefore the ad benefits from this association and digital needs to understand this. Programmatic is the future, and the future needs to be in high quality content, verifying that you are hitting your target audience, viewability and impact. In the same way DVR did not kill live TV viewing, more publishers need to realise Programmatic is the way to continuing with high quality content. “Engagement” is no longer a currency that has value. Target “Engagements” and you will target engagers. Target “Clicks” and you will target clickers. Target your audience and you will do something worthwhile, even if you don’t have as high an engagement or click-through rate. 

In the short term therefore we need to be bold and do the harder job. Agencies lose clients if they respond to briefs. Agencies need to be the experts they are being paid to be, not a planning extension of the client. This will be explored in the coming weeks

The long term prospects are more exciting and revolves around consolidation; consolidation of data, tech and metrics. There are lots of great tools in the marketplace that have a lot of potential when combined with each other but at the moment only serve to perpetuate the confusion and distrust traditional marketers have for digital. For example:

Attribution models – wisely looking beyond the last click cookie, but suffers from no standardisation of method and can’t track anything that is not adserved

Cross Device – until Google, Amazon and Facebook fully release their cross device products, there will be the debate on how accurate the current deterministic or probabilistic offerings on the market are

– Beacons – Expensive to make and the tech is still in its infancy. The biggest risk to beacon success is too many different companies offering beacon tech, leading to bit part coverage

– DMP – Some slight integration challenges with DSPs and other challenges (cost, expertise etc) but a very exciting area

The great big data craze means that there was a furore of data collectors, but very few people or systems that were built to do anything useful with the piles of data available. Analysis and scientists are the new rock and roll stars, but the systems they are using are disparate and not connected. Look at at the communication gaps in the Google Stack to see how the biggest boys in the market are not as connected as they seem.

Imagine a world where all four of the tools are tied into one effective model. You have knowledge of a person’s behaviour with you as a business across all devices, as well as in store through cross device and beacons, all stored in the DMP. This is then supplemented and enriched by 3rd party data to categorise and prioritise each individual, which is fed into a DSP to find that person in the right device, right environment, right mood. We then follow that person to personalise their journey and measure impact, regardless of device or physical movement. 

This falls into the same problems mentioned above, where by measurement may not be standardised across all businesses, however we will be able to prove quality and viewability of content and ad, as well as the journey over time with the individual. Backed up with a survey or two, this becomes a massively powerful tool, and as more channels come into programmatic – and therefore ad-served – the more efficient the marketing system.