Monthly Archives: March 2009

Don’t get Twitterjacked – get involved

The various speakers at the brand building session of yesterday’s Social Networking World Forum, were of course at pains to point out that social media is a vital tool for modern brands. Given that the conference coincided with the release of Nielsen’s latest research into the popularity of social media, who can blame them?

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Basic Gestalt

Hold up four fingers on one hand. How does your mind organize that? One group of four, right? Now hold up three fingers on one hand and one finger on the other. How does your mind organize that?

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What are you Twittering on about?

Twitter was built for micro-blogging. It certainly succeeds with each post/tweet limited to 140 characters – when you first sign up it’s like using text messages 10 years ago. Some people use it as an alternative, more regular Facebook style status update, while others are using it as a more laborious alternative to RSS feed reading.

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Editor’s blog: Goodwin witch-hunt getting out of hand

I’m no fan of Sir Fred Goodwin. In the boom years whenever MT contacted RBS in search of an interview with him, we were met with sneers – if we actually got a return call. The outfit was hubris writ large. They got what was coming to them.

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Same side, different priorities

John Webster, BMP’s creative director, was really pissed off. He’d just had a huge row with Stanley Pollitt over a TV campaign.

John said, “Bloody planners: you don’t understand what it’s like being creative. We give birth to a tiny little baby.
We nurture it, help it grow, prepare it so it looks its best. Then, when we’ve done absolutely everything we can do to make it as perfect as possible, we lay it in front of you. And what do you do? You stamp all over it in bloody great boots and kill it.”
And Stanley said, “That’s because to us John, it looks like a tarantula.”

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Fatboy Slim pioneers best practice in online ad measurement

I read on Brand Republic that Fatboy Slim is using online advertising – rich media banners – as part of the launch for his new band, the Brighton Port Authority. The interesting thing about this is that he is only going to pay his agency on the number of times people rollover the ad – so no click through rates, no page views, no singles downloaded on iTunes metrics for Fatboy, just a standard web 2.0 functionality of banner rollovers.

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"The wise man knows he doesn’t know. the fool doesn’t know he doesn’t know." (Lao Tzu)

There are some great talks on ted.com.One of my favourites is by Sir Ken Robinson. He’s an educational guru, and he gives a talk called, “Is Education Killing Creativity”. The most touching part comes at the end.

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Privacy is at the heart of the internet’s future

Protecting personal data and privacy is one of the biggest challenges of the digital era. And, as we all spend more of our lives online, so it’s importance will continue to grow. People are prepared to share more information about themselves and their experiences then we might dare to do in the offline world. People are also prepared to forfeit a little bit of personal data in return for improved and often more personal services. This is not a new thing: loyalty cards have been around for a while now.

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Have you got a behaviour problem?

You soon could have. That’s because the Internet Advertising Bureau has just put together a ‘best practice’ code on how you go about it. The three main tenets for behavioural advertising are consent i.e. you’ve got to give people a chance to opt out/in; education i.e. you’ve got to tell people how you’re going to use their data; notice i.e. tell people that you’re going to use it for a specific purpose.Is it going too far or not far enough? The key point of conjecture is that the companies that ‘cold ping’ you don’t actually have any of your personal data. It’s all down to that pesky cookie code on your hard drive. So, in effect, it is you and it isn’t you. It’s hardly the same as cold calling though. Indeed, if you head onto the Internet shouldn’t you expect it? Isn’t it all in the spirit of the web? Isn’t it great that companies are hunting you down to bring you thoroughly relevant offers and deals?

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Bauer announces the end of Arena

Bauer’s decision to close Arena today shuts the chapter on a 22-year-old rollercoaster ride never before seen in men’s magazines.

When Arena first hit the newsstands in the winter of 1986 the UK and its media was a very different place.

The year had started with the unveiling of ambitious plans to connect with mainland Europe via an undersea railway line called the Channel Tunnel, and had gone on to witness the marriage of Prince Andrew to one Sarah Ferguson.

There was a confident, capitalist swagger that seeped into ever part of society. Socks were fluorescent, gloves had no fingers and the likes of Madonna, Europe (Final Countdown) and Berlin (Take my Breath Away)provided the sound track.

Into this mix enters Arena, initially a quarterly magazine launched with the novel idea of targeting British males. The front cover of the launch issue featured a fresh-faced exciting young actor called Mickey Rourke.

It offered an eclectic mix of quintessential ‘male things’, including features on shaving, suits, Mike Tyson and, of course, supercars. But there was also recognition of the less obvious parts of the male-psyche – the low down on Paris, collectable art and, er, Joe Orton.

It’s easy to forget how ground-breaking it was to have a monthly lifestyle magazine specifically for men, who at the time were more concerned with hating Argentina’s cheating Diego Maradona. It was of the moment, a style magazine for men just when cash-rich British males were starting to really care about fashion, brands and lifestyle choices.

The brainchild of Nick Logan, the man behind Face magazine which had already made magazines more paletable to British males, it quickly cut a swathe through the women with big hair on the front covers of Vogue, Cosmopolitan and the like.

With no direct competitors, circulation soon soared past 60,000 and by the start of the 1990s was selling more than 90,000 copies each issue. Its rise was enough to prompt early investor Conde Nast to launch a British version of GQ in 1989, which quickly assumed top dog position.

NatMags’ Esquire also followed and while Logan didn’t know it, the magazine had already had its heyday.

Throughoutthe last decade, strong competition from both online and in print has seen Arena’s circulation tumble. By 2007, despite numerous redesigns and repositionings the magazine was still struggling to maintain circulation above 30,000, an important figure for any would-be advertiser.

In the last year the magazine has been further squeezed by friendly-fire, with Bauer’s other monthly FHM deciding to move into its more upmarket territory too.

In February’s ABC report for the second half of 2008 Arena’s circulation was up 16.4% year on year to 29,374, but the figure masked the fact only 17,000 were being actively purchased.

The writing has long been on the wall for Britain’s longest-running men’s monthly, as clear as over-sized 80s graffiti.

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