Guardian Changing Advertising Summit – liveblog

Well, hello again.  After a couple of weeks being on paternity not typing very much at all, I thought it’d be a good idea to try and get myself back in the habit by liveblogging from the Guardian’s Changing Advertising Summit.

I barely remembered how to switch the laptop on… I hadn’t realised how much I valued sleep until this morning…



Anyway, I attended last year too, and it was a fine event… this year it’s being positioned as “How to retain your creative, commercial and competitive edge in the downturn”.  

So the underlying emphasis being that we’re still in the downturn, and will be for a while yet…

…though I read something a while back which I liked about it being too late to prepare for the downturn, as we’re in it already; you should be preparing your company for what you’re going to do when we come out the other side.

Maybe that’s because I’m a glass-half full kind of guy.

Anyway, let’s see what the fine array of speakers have to say on the matter…


Introduction by Mike Southon, today’s chair…

He does a nice upbeat talk called ‘preparing for the next upturn’ apparently… how oddly prescient, given the above…

…then it’s over to the first speakers.  First up, three opening keynotes from Babs Rangaiah (Unilever), our own Damien Blackden (OMG), and Samir Arora (Glam Media).

Babs Rangaiah (Unilever)

Likens the change that’s happening to his prowess (his tongue is firmly in cheek here)… before he’d have to take out lots of advertising & PR telling people he’s ‘a great lover’… and now it’s women telling other women via social media how great he is.

“You cannot market in today’s world without living the space that today’s consumers live in…”

Babs gives people he works with a digital IQ test… are you on Twitter, have you played with Wii etc…  He asks the room who scores ten, and a few of us do (though only a few)… there are a good number of 8/10s though.

“Running banners and buttons all over the internet is not the change we’re talking about…”

“…it’s about reframing how we think about using channels, and changing our behaviour in those channels”

For instance, Unilever created an ‘Axe wake-up’ service… teenage boys select the ‘hot girl’ they want to wake them up from their mobile phone each morning… and download the app to do it.  More on that here.



Babs then points out that it’s not just a shift in the western world… the change is a global phenomenon… the phone in South Korea is EVERYTHING… tube pass, bank card, alarm clock etc etc.

You also need to ‘penetrate the culture’… really get involved in what motivates and excites people in their cultural lives (I guess this is really important for FMCGs, given the potential for the products themselves to be ‘low interest’…). 

“Walk away from the straight interruption that advertising is… well, I shouldn’t say ‘walk away’ as there’s still strength in advertising…”

Next point; think webspace (where people are going, interacting, sharing etc) rather than ‘website’…

…which is true, of course… we’re just about over the era when every advertiser assumed that they could create a microsite that people would flock to and use instead of social networks (Bud TV anyone?).



(Though part of me feels that whilst this approach isn’t right for trying to replace ‘advertising’ style numbers of a million+ users, there’s still a role for companies creating niche spaces for niche audiences where they don’t exist… imagine a car engineering forum run by BMW engineers for the petrolheads of this world… it wouldn’t be hug numbers, but it would be a strong way to engage a specialised audience).

“It’s Our Time; We have to actually DO IT… just talking about it and thinking about it won’t help make the change happen…”

Damien Blackden, OMG

Damien opens up talking about the maelstrom we agencies find ourselves in… it’s ‘Darwinian conditions’.



Technological developments are driving key human behaviours… those of the seeking out of new entertainment and information, and the desire to share and discuss these… Add to this the economic travails we find ourselves in… and it adds up to the perfect storm.

So, Damien says there are three things that will enable a media agency to create success for clients…

i) Strategies, supported by purchasing data… it’s about taking the data that’s increasing inherent in everything, and measuring and managing this effectively

ii) Holistic planning by technique… attracting & retaining a range of quality people within an agency who can, together, create something compelling for clients

iii) Optimisation of international values and local relevance… creating systems and approaches that can manage a client’s need to appeal, dynamically to the world, and a specific location in one country all at the same time

Samir Arora, Glam Media

Glam started because of the changes that had started happening in the media world, and was created based on ‘vertical media’…

“there is one very big difference of online media vs other media… there is absolutely no control of distribution”

4 things have changed the definition of media…

– Fragmentation of content (200m+ nice sites)
– Long-tail & mid-tail (Blogs, sites, social profiles)
– Fragmentation of traffic (topics & articles as ‘landing pages’)
– Death of portals (decreasing share of time)

How did Glam solve this problem?  If sites are going to be this fragmented, how do we bring about an aggregation of audience in these places?

Focus is on Audience (women), Context (lifestyle), have a network of sites (publishers), and create a premium brand engagement (rather than just an ‘ad’…

They are now at 1400 publishers across the network… and it’s an ‘exclusive’ network.  For instance, they could offer a Unilever brand like Dove an exclusive tie-in around ‘The Oscars’ or similar event.



Glam act like a restaurant franchise… they seek out opportunities to be locally relevant and powerful, but aggregate this across the world.

So Glam are fundamentally ‘a technology company’ who bring together content, applications, advertisers and agencies, audience and ‘distribution’…

They’ve also built… as opposed to following people as twitter would, it follows topics across many streams (it’s a bit like addictomatic, to be honest…)

and now… a panel discussion featuring all three speakers…

Question from John Taysun (We7)… how does the industry reconcile the ‘targeting’ issues with that of ‘media buying’… “brand managers want targeting, some planners want targeting, but media buying is still looking for ‘scale’ and accepts there will be ‘waste’…

DB: Everyone is interested in better targeting… we are now taking direct data feeds (not research) from media owners, and building these into dynamic impression buying tools

BR: For FMCG brands like ours, we still need tremendous scale (which we get through traditional routes), but on the internet we want to be as laser focussed as possible… what differentiates one detergent from another is the marketing.

SA: TV is no longer the most effective medium in america to do large scale branding campaigns… it’s now the internet.

Martin Loat, Propeller Group: “you mentioned in passing that the Dove spoof got more views than the proper ad… what does that say to us about consumers nowadays”

BR: I truly believe that as time moves forward that content created by consumers will rival that which is produced by professionals… (hence the moves by Unilever like crowdsourcing the Peperami ads)



DB: you have to be authentic, realise that what you put out there will stay out there, and have things in place that will enable you to listen and respond…

BR: The companies that handle social media best are the companies who’ve already been punk’d by social media…


Andrew Freeman, Harris

Andrew outlines the sheer difference in today’s media landscape (everything from press & magazines to outdoor), and yet the ways in which we measure these core media channels remains the same…

…nowadays people make many more decisions and choices to edit down their own media choices, so that broad targeting approach of old school planning.

So planners today need to navigate a much more difficult landscape…

In 1996, there were only 75m indexable URLs, and Andrew reckons that the entire downloadable content of it could be stored on every phone in the room here…

…now, of course, it’s huge and growing exponentially… the reality of which means there are hundreds of thousands of people trying to reach people. 

For agencies, just trying to navigate this landscape with the measurement tools of yesteryear can’t be effective.  Tools like Touchpoints, Media DNA and RSVP help to draw a new map to help us out… but there needs to be a lot more work done to make sure planners have the tools that mean they can plan properly in the world we live in.


Chris Ward, Creative director Comic Relief

Has worked with Friends Reunited, Comic Relief, and is now working on 1Goal (make poverty history, based around the world cup)…

…he’s doing a top twenty of how to be number one… (I bet I miss one.  At least…)

All his links are HERE

1. Realtime is the new primetime

2. Give up control… and still win.  don’t moderate anything… allow the conversation to happen

3. People don’t REALLY care about your product OR your great ideas… people only care for a very short period of time (Comic relief facebook example… 25000 fans in 6 weeks, then 200000 in the next four days)

4. Before you launch (or relaunch)… read THIS and THIS

5. Become a coffice worker… you become aware of what people like, and don’t like.  Or work in a shop.

I’m a big fan of this one… as I outlined in this piece a while back:

Going out; the new staying in
View more presentations from John V Willshire.

6. Run a great campaign before anyone knows if your product is any good

7. If the product is no good… change jobs (or change sides)

8. Manufacture success (Viral Loop – How the Smartest Businesses grow themselves)

9. Be relevant (to people’s lives)… (Queen Rania example of education for 1Goal)

10. Get someone better than you to do your job… get someone in the ‘inner circle’ (eg Richard Curtis)

11. Tweet.  Whatever your product is.

12. Enable Journalists to show off… find an angle

13. Go to the public… they won’t be bothered to come to you.  where people first engage, they want to stay engaged

14. Rip someone off… Comic Relief eyebrows ad:

15. Love celebrities (everyone else does).  Comic Relief facebook page changed image to Chris Moyles… doubled traffic overnight

16. Make sure everything is sharable (Creative Commons)

17. Be boring… make sure everything works on every platform

18. Be flexible… go with it, whatever it is… don’t be a tanker…

19. Be real…

20.  Throw enough mud.  You don’t know which one ISN’T going to work… it’s all cheap if you work with the right people, so test what works and what doesn’t.

phew… got ’em all

Mike Parsons, Tribal DDB

“Grasping the bigger picture”… four thoughts that will help in the ‘big new media world’.

When you’re thinking cross-platform, and how a message can travel across paid, earned and own media… spend seems to be migrating from paid across earned and own media a lot more… brands understand how they might become publishers in this world.

Rule 1 – have a compelling insight…

The VW GTI project; the 24+ turbocharged male doesn’t just love cars… they love the scalextric they grew up with.



So they recreated a mythical development room at Volkswagen, built a scalextric  track there, with a scale model of the new car, and let people race the cars online…

Rule 2 – Be compelling…

Was way above any other casual gaming experience you could have online…

Rule 3 – Reach out to influencers

By finding influencers who are listened to by the audience, you can do so and make it scalable; the VW team reached out to just 20 people, who had enormous influence across the website, and then provided them with content to share

Rule 4 – Be brave

There is inherently more risk as you move away from paid for media… but there are rewards out there for the advertisers.  this was the first time VW had ever launched a car without TV.  25% of the spend was on paid media, the rest was on the creation of the idea.  And they sold 1000 cars in a depressed car market as a result… (no idea what the overall spend was, though…)

Barnaby Dawe, Turner

Demonstrating the role of TV in the new world… talking firstly about Ben 10.

One in FIVE toys sold in the UK is a Ben 10 toy.  Wow.  All product lines based on the TV series, which is really the revenue generating part of the business model.



A launch of a new Ben 10 series, with a ‘Golden Ticket’ style invite to ‘The World’s Largest Kids Premiere’.  They engaged kids through Binweevils and Swapitshop… and produced over £2m of PR-ness.

Now talking about Turner Classic Movies… needed to revitalise the channel with newer films for a younger generation (Lost Boys, Caddyshack etc).  Needed to engage with these people…

…so put all the budget behind ‘Capture Your Classic’ – getting people to shoot their own version  of classic film moments… think Johnny Vegas and Denise Van Outen recreating the street scenes from Fame…

They managed to shift the average age of the channel from 55+ to 35+… and generated £4.8m of PR coverage.

They’re nice case studies… but I disagree with Barnaby’s point that it’s showing that TV ‘isn’t dead’ though… the ideas very much live online rather than TV, selling TV as a product, not an advertising medium.

Ajaz Ahmed, AKQA

Ajaz is going to share, for the first time, the internal things that power AKQA.

It’s based around ‘the fab four’; innovation, service, quality and thought.  He then shows a video of… err, award titles they’ve won.  OK then…

Anyway, 7 trends shaping the landscape…

– On-demand reality is here
– Media fragmentation and ad-clutter is everywhere
– Consumers customise and create
– The profound rise of channel me
– Marketing and product have converged (e.g. Nike+)
– Entering the age of perfect information
– Virtuality is reality

And then… another video.  Which my friend sitting next to me tells me is also the global Nike video, so I guess AKQA made it for ’em. 

It is best described as ‘well weapon’…



Next up… the microwave Xmas card they did… which is pretty clever, I liked it a lot then and still now…

Then the Fabregas TV show, and another Nike user generated content video…

He then shows the US postal service thing they’ve created using augmented reality which is one of the best uses I’ve seen… it’s a real, practical application:

Another video, for Nike Football+, then for Gap ‘s store locator app… in fact, the creds clips go on so long, there’s no time for any Q&A session for the last four speakers.  Hmmm, seems unfair on the other guys.

Here we go… it’s a rock’n’roll presentation from

Nick Manning at Billets…
on, yep, ROI…

He starts with the example of the Tevez poster… just one poster, but it produced loads of PR, UGC versions, response from Alex Ferguson and so on… all for just £23k.



And then brings up everyone’s favourite country & western airline bashing video… Dave Carroll’s United Breaks Guitar song.

Two good examples about how the digital world re-defines marketing communications… it’s no longer just about advertising.

How is the agency world doing at delivering this?  The answer according to Nick is ‘…not that well at all’ with a few exceptions.

The new currency in this world is ‘data’… interaction is the key thing to understand, not a ‘coverage and frequency’ measure for the internet.

In Billet’s view, communications strategy should be built around ROI… measurement via data analytics across multiple disciplines.

Their new model seems very cyclical… you start with what’s been proven to be the most effective ROI channels, create a strategy within those channels, prove they work again, and use it to inform your future work.


How do you ever do anything new in that framework?  Neither of the examples he gave at the start of how the world works fits in the proposed model.

Then he shows a pie chart of media split which suggests that TV should, for FMCG goods, not account for around half of spend… but in fact two thirds.  There appears to be no space in his pie charts for online, mobile etc… I’ll try and get the slides and look at that again.

I’ve no idea how the two ends of this presentation tie together… oh, hang on, here we go: “is it all about numbers and ROI… no, absolutely not… it’s about ROI and also about using creativity to deliver the solutions that are a better return on your investment”. 


Right then, anyone for lunch..?


Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy

It’s not one big recession, of course… it’s about 23 million different recessions for every household in the UK… everyone reacts differently.

Now that marketing is much more adept at targeting more discreetly and at niches, we can actually communicate to people according to their recessionary circumstances…

Now, people who advertise in a recession are more likely to come out of that recession fighting fit… yes, there’s a degree of self selection, but it’s back to the ‘prepare to come out’ point again…

There’s a ‘marketing law of gravity’… growth/decline of brands is inexorably linked to category share of voice… if you outspend the market in a recession, it’s actually very effective SOV to buy…

…but, wait, here we go… that’s just ONE solution… and it only works if you have the money to spend at the expense of jobs, investment etc etc.

What’s the other solution?  Disproportionality.

Well, instead of the ‘elephant’ approach (invest everything in reproducing ONE elephant over 12 months, then caring for it) try the dandelion approach… produce lots and lots of spores, and a few will survive and thrive.



The digital world makes this behaviour much, much more achievable.  TV is still an ‘elephant’… costs a lot to get into.

“In the old world, success was proportionate to the amount of money you gave to Rupert Murdoch…”

“Before, marketing was a casino where you would put all your money on red… now you have to decide how much you put on each individual number…”

“Once you’re given a large budget… you start looking for large budget things to spend it on…”

“Consumers have no sense of proportion…” …so they’ll appreciate

“I will have succeeded when people come and talk to advertising agencies when they don’t have any money… there’s a lot of creativity in advertising agencies, media agencies, digital agencies etc that creates ideas that don’t need any money to be spent with Rupert Murdoch…”

Small behavioural tweaks can have massive impact… and in a recessionary environment like this, developing and implementing these ideas is hugely important.

Is there a way you can improve the services you offer through the provision of information?

Is there a way you can offer price discrimination, so the cash rich and time-poor people happily pay more?

Is there a way that you can ask people to help you make your service more effective? (He uses an Ocado example of the Green Van selection for delivery arrangement)



Finally… the most important thing we must use this recession to do is to move some degree of human understanding of business back away from the ‘arithmocracy’ of the financial people back to some sort of influence of the marketers… business without any understanding of their customers barely deserves to be called a business at all…


Casey Harwood, Turner Europe

Talking about more of the work Turner have been doing working on cross-platform solutions…

If people approach TV the same way the do music, and stop buying ‘albums’ (channels) and only buying ‘songs’ (programmes) then the TV industry will have to rethink the complete structure…

“The days of the regulated EPG are over…”

Measurement is key; retail, business, travel etc have all become dominated by data, and it’s now media’s turn… Turner have responded with a new way of understanding the nitty gritty of the numbers that come their way.

They’ve also invested in a new way of delivery content cleverly and automatically across their entire portfolio, then offer holistic opportunities to advertisers.


Richard from Diffusion Media – Viral

Is viral and social ‘kill or cure’?

He starts with a couple of the first virals he ever saw… the guy blowing up the dingy, and the guy kicking the crap out of his computer… then the Trojan Games one..

…so what does the future hold, if that’s the past?

20 hours of content are uploaded to Youtube every minute… it’s not just about the video, it’s now about creating ideas that will move through EVERY medium…

Like The Best Job in the World… starts with recruitment ads, getting people to submit videos, driving uptake through facebook, twitter etc… but only really ‘scaled’ when the mass media picked it up… and the BBC made an hour long documentary… they got over £100m worth or PR (apparently…)



Or like the Fiesta Movement… they gave various people a free Fiesta for six months, and set them missions to fulfill and film… pure online activity got 4.3m Youtube hits, which turned into 50,000 interested people…

Now Will from Contagious is hosting a panel with Dan from Nokia, Katy from Tate, Ajaz from AKQA and Richard from Diffusion

Why is there so many bad virals out there?  Quality control, says Ajaz… and of course thirteen year old kids are better at telling stories through this media.

Does viral still have to be naughty or disruptive to be successful (like the Polo that decapitated the cat)?  Richard says now… shocking and funny still helps, but things like the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty…



Dan from Nokia says the benefit is that with twitter you can now get your message out a lot more quickly, but now sustaining the conversation is a lot more difficult…

…then Dan references the Bonfires & Fireworks analogy… it takes time, effort, and participation in not just your own bonfire, but joining in other people’s…



thanks for the props, Dan 🙂

Katy from Tate has content (copyright allowing…), and so placing that content in provoking new places becomes quite compelling and people will join in, make their own versions, interactions, add commentary etc…

Dan’s first viral piece for Nokia was 3 years back for NGage… edgy, provoking, and not something that everyone will have seen…

(I don’t know what it was… but I just found this from N Gage, which is the first time I’ve ever played Bricked-Up with real people…)



in order to make it effective for more marketing more mainstream products, they’re now using a balance between own, earned and bought media… starting conversations that people will feel that they themselves can take and run with, build on etc.

Richard complains about the clients who come to them with a piece of video and ask for it to ‘be made viral’…

Dan: “I quite often will be sent something and asked ‘can you send this out to your bloggers’… and I’ll say’ll no, because it’s of no inherent value to them…”

Ajaz: The key role of marketing is to create familiarity… which means making sure every part of the experience from beginning to end is perfect.  Red Bull is an example of an exceptionally managed brand…



Dan: The idea that everything has to be simple is wrong… we wanted to do a really complex ARG style game for the launch of the N97, and the broad comms team said no… they split the handsets available between the two teams, and there was way more coverage from the 7 devices used in the ARG than there was from the 90 used in traditional ‘giveaway’ comms…

Ajaz: “…that’s because you didn’t treat your consumers like dumbos”

Katy: Interesting… Tate are partnering with Miniclip, to ‘swap’ audiences so the Miniclip kids will play the games on the Tate Kids site and vice versa…


Panel on ‘Economic Fallout’ – Iain Johnston, Loewy, Rob Grimshaw, FT, and Tim Lefroy  of the Advertising Association

(Chaired by Mike Southon)

IJ: The old order is dead, and very little of it will be coming back in the future… the criteria that people are using to assess their marketing behaviour are really basic again; sales, revenues…

MS: Are the big budgets EVER coming back..?

IJ: The big budgets will still be there, but they will be parceled down into small, precise parts rather than huge £20m slugs of budget…

RG: From the FT point of view… “we’re optimistic, but there is cause to be afraid… the downturn is secondary to the huge shift that has been going on across the industry for years… in the US all print in Q1 06 is worth $47bn, and in Q1 09 it’s worth $31bn… it’s seismic”

RG: “…it’s not going to come back, the world is different, and publishers just have to respond to that…”

RG: “…there’s a huge cultural change for the industry… publishing is a fundamentally conservative industry which has done the same things for a hundred years… I’m spending a lot of my time getting the teams in the business to be entrepreneurial, creative, pioneering…”

RG: “You absolutely can charge for content online, because we do, and you can place advertising into those spaces, because we do…”

…I’d challenge that it’s because of the nature of the FT’s content…

…it’s timely by it’s nature, and demanded by an audience who have billion pound organisations who will pay for that content for them…

…I don’t believe that the same model works for ‘normal’ news…

IJ: The laziness and lethargy of big agency approach was rife… the harsh wind of economic reality meant agencies had to wake up and smell the coffee… nowadays though there are a lot more bits of the industry and traditional agency groups who are looking to solve problems with something that isn’t a TV ad…

TL: It’s half the fault of the agencies, and half the fault of the clients… because of the influence of procurement in an oversupplied market, clients are demanding good people at a cost that doesn’t let agencies deliver those good people… how that’s fixed industry wide is a good question though.


Lennard Hoornik, Sony

“It strikes me how hard it is to delearn… forget what it is you ‘know’…”

The one problem with mobile devices… they are all becoming very very similar… the world of ‘touch mobiles’… your value chain can only be defined by your users, if you try and do it yourself, you’re in trouble.

You have to have a very clear idea about who your competitors are, what you’re there to do, what direction you’re moving in…

Everything is moving really fast, and new competitors emerge (Apple, Android, Dell…).

We expect our media partners, creative partners, digital partners to move and learn fast.

So why is everybody going mobile?  It’s the most personal, and it’s in your face most of the day, it’s with you all the time, it’s always on…

Every mobile phone is no longer the same… as soon as it’s bought, it changes, and is constantly evolved and augmented by the user… it’s a gateway, not a finished product.  And they power the social media world in the future…

Why did Sony E end up where they are in 2009 (market share down etc)?  Because they admit they spent their time improving things that people didn’t want.  They didn’t sell many walkman phones, so concentrated on making EVEN BETTER WALKMAN PHONES…



…which he likens to the TV landscape… if a TV ad isn’t working, DON’T SPEND YOUR TIME AND MONEY MAKING AN EVEN BETTER TV AD… understand that it’s a massive change, and TV ISN’T COMING BACK…

So, what are they doing?

Sony Ericsson has put the consumer back at the heart of the company… and in their advertising, internal communications, and brand.

Rightly, and in line with the Communis Manifesto stuff, they’ve realised it’s about starting a movement INSIDE the company first… 

…because if you as a company don’t care, why would anyone else?



Their transformational strategy for the company is:


This new brand is “optimistic, playful, energetic and beautiful”…



…it’s based on:

1. Be innovative
2. Be human
3. Be entertaining
4. Engage Communities
5. Enable Communities
6. Collaborate

…all the examples are nice, and you definitely get a sense of how they’ve changed their approach based on how the world really works now… it’s heartening to see. 

And by starting things in the heart of the company itself, I guess they have a much better chance of producing great phones again (they did used to have some awesome phones…).


Blake Chandlee, Facebook

In the graveyard slot, poor Blake…

“There’s never been as an exciting time to work in this agency as now…”

…and it’s another outing of the Socialnomics video… it was played earlier today by Babs, though with a different soundtrack…

Maybe everyone should talk about which videos they’re going to play before conferences.

Talking about Obama, and activating communities… over a six month period, he went from outside long-shot to President of the USA.

“If we take traditional ‘brand shouting’ and put it inside social networks, people don’t want this… people don’t want brands in Facebook, Bebo, Myspace… that model doesn’t work in these markets, we have to reinvent it”.

Blake’s friend Stephen asked his friend on Facebook for book recommendations… not Amazon, not a book store, not book reviews in newspapers… his friends.

“Anyone in advertising… if you’re not involved in social media, you won’t understand what’s going on…”

The social graph is something that’s existed for the whole of history… but only now is it being mapped, connected and enabled via technology… Facebook now has 300m users and STILL GROWING… 15% of pageviews, and 20% of all time spent in the UK on the internet is spent on Facebook…

…or, really, time spent with your friends and loved ones.

…speaking of which, I’m off home to spend a little time with this little fella…



…signing off, see y’all later…