Monthly Archives: July 2010

Search specialists – where are you?

The IAB’s National Search Marketing Barometer 2010 revealed that 36% of brands struggle to find skilled search staff; does this feel high to you?

With search marketing increasingly being used for brand building (78% said search can build brand either directly or as part of the full user journey) and with budgets set to stay the same or increase over the next year it is vital for every marketer – not just specialists – to understand the importance of search.

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From Kraftwerk to craft work – it’s more fun to compute

At last week’s Guardian Activate summit, the UK’s Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox outlined her reasons for attempting to get 100% of the UK population online by the time of the London Olympics. Lane Fox used a number of examples from her recent travels round Britain to explain why her current crusade is so important for the UK – and in particular for some of the most excluded sections of the population.

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BBC gives two-fingered salute to Trust

Who is the BBC accountable to? Certainly not the general public as the license fee is compulsory. Of course the BBC trust is there to look out for the interests of viewers and listeners, or so we’re supposed to think. Over the last fortnight we have seen several examples of how the BBC is able to run rings around the Trust, use its own media channels and PR expertise to see-off any interference and do pretty well what it likes.

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Editor’s blog: Ocado – to buy or not to buy?

Ocado publishes its IPO prospectus today. It could be brilliant but it’s yet to make a profit.

I dread to think how much the Gwythers blow at Ocado during the course of a year. If we go on at this rate, the company will be in profit within months and you can all fill your boots with the shares and make a killing.

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Perils of search complacency

The IAB’s National Search Marketing Barometer 2010 (4MB)
is a ‘state of the market’ survey based on responses from the majority
of the top 100 brands in the UK conducted by the IAB Search Council.
There are many positive insights in this report, such as budgets
continuing to grow, but the biggest trend seems to be a sense of
complacency – search works, so let’s stick with what we know.

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The media money can’t but

I was listening to a speech by Mark Lund, Chief Exec of the COI.
He was talking about the government cutbacks in COI spending.
This was obviously a challenge.
Mark thought it needed a new approach to media.
What he said might be obvious to marketing people and new-media gurus.
But I’m a creative, and I hadn’t heard it before.
The general drift was as follows.
There are three basic kinds of media.
PAID, OWNED, and EARNED.
PAID Media is the stuff you actually pay money for.
TV, press, posters, radio, online, idents, ambient, DM.
Anything we generally refer to when we say ‘media’.
This is what media departments deal in.
For the COI this is obviously where the government cutbacks will have to come.
They’re having their budget slashed so they can’t afford so much PAID media.
Mark said, this meant making a lot more of the two other areas.
The first of these is OWNED media.
That’s any space you’ve got, that you could use without paying for it.
For Ocado it’s their lorries.
For Travel agents and Building Societies it’s their shop windows.
For breweries it’s pub walls, beer glasses, toilets.
For shops it’s carrier bags.
For the COI it could be doctors’ waiting rooms, police stations, job centres, hospital A&Es.
Maybe even government DM that has to go out anyway.
Anything free.
So far all this makes sense.
But it was the third part, EARNED media, that really interested me.
Because I thought this was where the creative dept came in.
But a few days later I discussed this with a COI planner, Penny Hunt.
She disagreed with my interpretation.
She said EARNED media was actually more to do with building a reputation.
The way M&S was always known for quality.
So I looked it up on various media-guru websites.
It seems we do have a different interpretation.
They describe EARNED media as “what people say about you”.
And they give examples as “WOM, buzz, viral”.
Fair enough.
But how do you do that?
Penny thought you did it by enhanced performance and delivery.
Maybe that’s true, but I can’t help there.
I’m in advertising.
So, for me, the answer must be via the advertising.
If we want to cut the cost of your PAID advertising, make sure that whatever advertising we do works much harder.
Make £1 work like £5, then we’ve earned another £4 of advertising.
Don’t simply think of it as share-of-voice.
Think of it as share-of-mind.
If we can get people talking about our advertising, every time they do it’s a free OTS.
Advertising we haven’t PAID for.
We’ve EARNED extra media.
Of course to do that we’ll need advertising that stands out.
Advertising that catches on.
Advertising that break rules.
And that will take nerve.
And that will be uncomfortable.
That was how I interpreted what Mark Lund meant by “The Challenge Of EARNED Media”.
The COI is in charge of all government communications.
Aka Advertising.
They’ve just had their budget cut.
Less advertising.
Why wouldn’t that challenge be about making whatever PAID advertising they can afford work harder?
Years ago we ran an ad with the following paragraph in it.

THE MEDIA MONEY CAN’T BUY.
The most effective form of advertising you can have is word-of-mouth.
Unfortunately you can’t buy space in this medium yet.
At least not with money.
How you can buy it is with advertising that gets noticed and talked about.
The more it gets noticed the more it gets talked about.
The more it gets talked about, the more it gets noticed.
Strangely enough, this advertising doesn’t actually cost any more than the advertising that doesn’t get noticed or talked about.

I may not have got the definition right according to the experts.
But for me that’s EARNED media.

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Editor’s blog: Time for a woman to run the CBI?

Richard Lambert will be a tough act to follow. I think the CBI should go for a woman.

So, Richard Lambert is to stand down as the director-general of the CBi. Lambert has been a thoughtful and intelligent D-G – just what was required as a stark contrast to that rabble-rousing tub-thumper Digby Jones (who had his own merits for the era in which he served). What has been impressive about Lambert is that he is nobody’s man. He says what he believes and has refused to toe the line, even with Peter Mandelson hissing at him.

Leading the CBI is a very important job, even at the best of times. But as we’re not really experiencing the best of times at the moment, getting the right successor is vitally important. The CBI, despite enduring so many brickbats from all directions, really is The Voice Of Business – and business has a vital role to play in the coming years. With the Department of Business Innovation and Skills all over the place, and probably about to suffer a budgetary butchering, the CBI will be in a hugely influential position.

Personally, I think it might be time that a woman ran the show. At times the CBI has been perceived by its knockers as a bit of an old boys’ club. Appointing a woman would be a powerful rebuttal of that. And it seems to have worked for the French, who have a woman in the equivalent role – Laurence Parisot, who we profile in our current edition. I also think it would be a good idea to have an individual in the job who has experience of running an SME. It will be this tranche of UK business that gets us out of the mess in which we find ourselves. Parisot also came from small business: a family furniture company plus a market research outfit. (She also, incidentally performs her role at Medef for nothing – handy in the new Age of Austerity).

Elsewhere in the CBI, Helen Alexander is making way for Stephen Green of HSBC, a truly estimable individual, as the new President. Green is a bloke and corporations don’t get much bigger and grander than HSBC. So let’s find a smaller business woman for the D-G role. Who do you think should receive the head-hunters’ call?

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