Friday 27 May 2016

What we're listening to. Marvin Gaye 'What's goin on?'

1971 and in fact Marvin's 11th but most influential Album.

It's really a concept Album about a Vietnam Vet (his bother, Frankie) returning home and seeing only injustice. "What's going on?" is a reflection of the race issues in America at the time and The Watts riots of 1965 deeply affected him.

It's a landmark Album with few getting the same critical acclaim and nearly always in the top 5 albums of all time. 

Gaye had been suffering from depression, cocaine addiction and a suicide attempt but in the early 70's was getting his act together. Including a Football career with The NFL (Detroit Lions).

"What's Goin on" was the first single and it went hugely well followed by "Mercy Mercy Me" bringing the Album into the spotlight. It's jazz and it's gospel but for us, the whole Album (short as it is) is just a masterpiece.

What you may not know is the story of Marvin's death in 1984 on April 1st.

Whilst he was talking to his Mother at their home, he was shot by his Father, also Marvin Gaye Snr (a pentecostal church minister), twice, proving instantly fatal. His father received a suspended sentence because in part, Marvin had drugs in his system and a long record of behavioural issues. 

He had been back on Cocaine but it was the end of a long time feud with his Dad. Marvin talked about being brutally whipped by his father and was beaten very often, his mother later confirmed. 

Sad end to a legend and we could equally have included the 'Let's get it on' Album (1973) here too. Beautiful.

Previous "listen to's" you'll also find on this blog (you can search them in the Search top left on the Blog)
......Mercury Rev 'Deserters Songs'; Dave Matthews 'Crash'; Beyonce 'Lemonade'; Prince 'Sign O the times'; Daft Punk 'Random Access Memories'; Amy Winehouse 'Back to Black';Police 'Outlandos D'Amour'; Michael Jackson 'Off the Wall'; Carole King 'Tapestry'; Beatles 'Red Album'; Sex Pistols 'Never mind the Bollocks'; Sam Cooke 'Live at Harlem Square'; The Doors 'LA Woman'; Thin Lizzy 'Live & Dangerous'; Kendrick Lamarr 'Butterfly'; Aretha Franklin 'Amazing Grace'; Clapton '461'; Massive Attack 'Blue Lines'; The Clash 'London Calling'; Chris Isaak 'At The Filmore'; Bob Dylan 'Street Legal'; Bad Company 'Straight Shooter'; Jackson Browne 'Love is Strange'; Lou Reed 'Transformer'; Steely Dan 'AJA'; Stones 'Black+Blue'; Stephen Bishop 'Careless'; Nils Lofgren 'Night after Night'; Mike Oldfield 'Tubular Bells'; Neil Young 'Harvest'; Led Zep '4'; David Bowie 'David Live'; Van Morrison 'It's too late to stop now'; Wings 'Band on the Run'; Rod Stewart 'Atlantic Crossing'; Ryan Adams 'Heartbreaker'; Santana 'Essential'; Bob Dylan 'Desire'; Roxy Music 'For your pleasure'; Bob Marley 'Legend'; Stephen Fretwell 'Magpie'; James Taylor 'Sweet Baby James'; Deep Purple 'Machine Head'; Springsteen 'Darkness on the edge of town'; Leon Bridges 'Coming Home'; Eagles 'Hotel California'; Jungle; Aretha 'Soul Queen'; Neil Young 'After the Goldrush' ; Zappa 'Overnite Sensation'; Fleetwood Mac 'Rumours'; Keith Jarrett 'Koln Concert'; Doobies 'Southbound'; Stevie Earle 'I feel Alright'; Tom Waits 'Closing Time'; Pink Floyd 'Dark Side'; Van Morrison 'Moondance'; Eric Church 'Caught in the Act'; Randy Newman 'Little Criminals'; Elton John 'Madman across the water'; Patti Smith 'Horses'; Doobies 'Captain and Me'; Steely Dan 'Can't Buy a Thrill'.

Thursday 26 May 2016

Advertising and Sales. And the nonsense that's talked about them.

There's a lot of talk by well, 'experts', about directly relating TV advertising to Sales and therefore, suggesting some form of ROI (Return on Investment). In other words, adding Science to Advertising in an attempt to prove that one medium works better than another. 

They tend to talk about 'models' and 'data' bundled up in theories that appear intelligent, because they sound it, but that's all it is. Mostly, Snake Oil.

Of course, most of these 'studies' by expert companies, aren't done just "off the cuff" to fill in time, but rather, commissioned by Clients who want to make one point or another for their own gain. Without usually, disclosing who those Clients are, who paid for the study. 

So always ask, "Why am I being told this?".

The other problem of course, is that Advertisers are highly unlikely to give actual sales by day to anyone on which these studies are supposedly based. It's hugely competitive information and equates to the Third secret of Fatima in confidentiality. Rightly so.

So do not be fooled by a big brand Consultancy offering "Studies"....there's always a reason. And after all, if you commission a 'study' you expect the result you paid for, don't you?

Fundamentally, Advertising V Sales is flawed. 

Nothing whatsoever to do with the debate around TV Advertising Versus Others (normally it's focused on Digital), but the very notion that you can correlate Advertising directly to Sales, simply cannot be done and never has been. Ever.

If you knew that secret, you'd be extremely wealthy because it's the Holy Grail of Advertising. And remains so.

The argument goes that if you spend one pound on X advertising medium, you get two pounds back - and if that was truly proven, who wouldn't spend it all? 

Think about that. If that was true, you'd spend all you had, because you'd be guaranteed Sales.

But you can't be. 

Nobody will promise that, even after their "studies". Why not ask those experts to give you that Sales guarantee?.....try.

So Does Advertising Sell? Yes, of course it does. 
But how? Well, We just don't know.

Simply, because there's such a myriad of factors that affects Sales - and Advertising is only one.

It all revolves (if you want the Science) in how the Demand and Supply curves interact and shift around the equilibrium. There's a bit of Economics for you....and if you can understand the Supply/Demand Graphic above (thanks you understand everything. 

Advertising is only ONE factor.

What that means, is you have to determine all the factors affecting Demand (Sales)? And, what therefore, are the factors affecting Supply? And, how do they relate to each other? 

When one changes, the other does too - so it's fluid or dynamic.

The first and primary objective of Advertising is to inform. To show consumers what you have "for sale". 

Succinctly referred to as, "I see it, I like it, I buy it". General awareness if you like, because if people don't know it's there, they won't look for it.

The right Ad, to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

You're looking for a Car. Up pops an Ad telling you about a great Car, ideal for what you're looking for and you'll probably buy it because now, you know about it. Or you will the next time you're looking.

Or, an Ad for a magical new TV because yours is falling apart.
Or, a drink because you're thirsty.

Information at the right time to the right person.

Advertising works in part, because the more you inform people (and presuming your product is something they want anyway), they'll buy it, because they now know it's there. Awareness.

You can of course, make a good stab at measuring awareness through pre and post unprompted recall of an Ad, but awareness uplifts in themselves, are one component of Sales only. 

Certainly, the more you create awareness/inform, means that the Advertiser with the bigger marketing pockets should nearly always, win on the awareness battle. 

Look at the past success of the big brand builders, the deep-pocketed multinationals, as an example of that. 

But the problem is, that other issues impact those Sales, hamper the Demand for those products despite your Advertising. 

Here's some of those issues;

Price impacts on Sales. Reduce your price and normally, you'll sell more, (Or, Higher prices means Demand falls). Lower price means higher volumes (not always, but most of the time) and look at Ryanair as an example of that. Using their profits to reduce fares to generate more Sales. They know lower fares means more Sales.

(An aside - You can't go lower than 'free', which eventually, Ryanair will. I think that's a brilliant ambition of theirs to fly for free and take margin from other stuff like airport fees, baggage fees etc).

Income impacts on Sales. Recent recessions show that. Notwithstanding your excellent product, superb Advertising skills and your terrific price, if people can't afford it, they won't buy it. Incomes affect Demand and that fall in Incomes can be unforeseen because it may simply be a consumers lack of future economic confidence that quickly enters the market. (Poor Expectations). 

Experience impacts on Repeat Sales. Consumers only buy once. If they like it, they'll buy it does the product live up to the promise? And in these days if it doesn't, watch out on Social Media because other consumers will know quickly. So Product Quality is a part of this. There's no amount of Advertising that will sell a poor product, twice.

Taste/Fashion impacts on Sales. Tastes change quickly and so does Fashion. So, if there are concerns about say Health (obesity or diabetes) in the general public awareness and you're selling high sugar drinks, you've got a problem all of a sudden. Demand will drop. 

Or if, somebody very fashionable (Ms. Kardashian for example) likes your product/brand, you could be on a winner, today. PR has a function here obviously in creating that new 'trend'. 

Competitors impact on Sales. Their activity might impact yours. Say they reduce their prices lower than yours quickly in the middle of your Advertising campaign? And keep doing it? Same product (ish) at a lower price, then most consumers will probably, switch away from yours. Or say a competitor copies your product at a lower price? Apple V Samsung.

Weather impacts on Sales. Sunny days sell Ice Cream, but holiday sales drop off. Sunny days kill retail footfall traffic generally. Actually ironically, a good sunny agricultural 'harvest' will mean a glut and that will mean prices will fall. Over supply. So your best laid Advertising plans can be affected by the weather. 

I know of one large DVD Rental Retailer who based their Advertising on Weather. A bad rainy day = more DVD rentals as people stayed home.

Supply impacts on Sales. The more accessible your product is (the easier it is to buy), the more you'll sell. Look at the example of online shopping Versus Bricks and Mortar stores. It's easier to buy online. So 8 of the top 10 UK retailers last year were online shops. Grocery Sales are driven by convenience for example.

In some cases a lack of supply (shortage) may also create pent-up demand, an old Apple trick, but generally good Supply impacts good Sales.

Creative impacts everything. Some Ads just work better than others. We don't know why but we know from experience, what tends to work better than others. It's that experience that brings you to hire experienced Ad Agencies.

Better Creative, means more demand, means more Sales. 

Look at Levi Jeans "Launderette" at the time, from John Hegarty at BBH. Denim was a poor, overpriced, under selling product but that commercial had it walking off the shelves. Famous brands have been built on famous creative for that reason (Audi, Guinness, Coke....).

Media impacts on Sales. Analysis of what spots went where at what time. If the Media buying isn't up scratch in other words or indeed, the Media Planning, then your Advertising will not be as effective.

And when all of these factors combine, they impact on each other. 

So it changes. 

Sales change because price changes, incomes fall and rise, weather changes, competitors respond, supply changes (high demand means out of stock) and on and on we go. The Demand and Supply Curves shift to keep trying to find the equilibrium which in reality, they never do. 

To suggest therefore, that Advertising alone, let alone TV Advertising, can be directly linked to Sales is a nonsense. 

Yes it works, but because of awareness....but awareness alone is never enough.  
You cannot isolate Advertising and relate it to Sales because there's too much at work here. Too many factors.

You can of course, surely argue about TV advertising Versus Digital Video as to which is better at reaching an audience at an optimum cost (reach and frequency) and that's legitimate. They're all Advertising mediums and arguable.

But trying to make Advertising a Science, is not legit.
Because actually, it's an Art.

Nobody knows why it works and why it works best.
Never has, never will.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

The TV Versus Digital Debate. Ad Age comes into it.

A great follow-upper to our Blog of yesterday which created a good stir (and thanks to Camillus O'Brien for pointing this out), is a story in Ad Age, the 'Bible' of Ad Agency land.

It's an excellent piece and we don't want to criticise it but (isn't there always).... the headline is 'TV Budgets shifting to Social? Yes, it's time to worry' and the "yes, it's time to worry" bit, clearly shows the readers concerns about Digital. Whereas, there's nothing to worry about here at all folks.

The sub-head is the crux of the story - "The growing video businesses of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, pose a viable alternative to TV' - and that's what we've been saying. 

But it's a breakthrough to read that on Ad Age. Warms the heart.

The overall point of the story, is that for media buyers who want to reach the optimum audience, a combination of Social and TV gets it done rather than, TV on its own.

In the US over 70 billion usd will be spent on TV Advertising whereas Facebook will generate circa 2 Billion usd. A "trickle" right now but "that trickle can very easily become a strong flow". And so it should because Advertising money follows Audiences. 

The Ad Age conclusions are based on some facts or thoughts;

1. The growing availability of Social Video Ads. A rise in Social Media inventory and new video opportunities on Digital, encourages growth.

2. Strong Demographics and Reach on Social. The infamous quote that there's a TV Superbowl audience on Facebook every day and there is, means Social is delivering a TV equivalent audience. Facebook had 83.3 million unique viewers in March 2016, Google 182.2m. 

That's higher than a lot of TV stations. Most, even.

3. Advertisers prepared to spend on Digital. So the switch from TV Dollars to Video Ads is happening already, albeit in a small way but the intent, procedure is there.

4. Video Ads are moving towards TV style measurement. All 4 major Social platforms have enlisted Nielsen to verify online viewing so shortly, they'll be TV comparable.

5. The push for Live streaming. Which in itself, will bring TV advertising style opportunities notably around live sports - the now critical earners for TV networks. So this is a threat to TV viewing because as live sports are watched online, traditional TV audiences will diminish further.

6. The growing importance for Social Video to advertisers. They see it working, they know it works, they've dipped their toes. The 30 second TV spot is over with viewers happily prepared to watch longer form online video.

But a fair piece that really brings the whole debate into the open and is reassuringly positive. As we said yesterday, one is not a substitute for the other. They both work but best in tandem.

Full marks to Ad Age. 
And we never thought we'd be saying that.

Online Video Ads? That's too. Now there's an Ad.

Here's the full story (sorry, you'll have to cut+paste)

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Television Effectiveness Versus Digital Video? The Mad Debate.

It's a worrying time when the debate about Television being more effective than Digital still labours on. Nastily.

I don't know how many traditional TV Campaigns we've managed in our pasts..... If it's not in the thousands, it's certainly in the hundreds and that doesn't necessarily gives us authority, but it does give us experience. Saying that too as the author is both a former Madison Avenuer and Fellow of The Advertising Institute. Agency blue-blood.

And how many Digital Video Campaigns have we managed? Thousands too.

But this debate seems to become angry with Traditionalists Versus Digital Evangelists whereas really what matters, is what is the audience doing? 

Where are the eyeballs going?

The TV traditionalists seem to blindly like TV, because that's the way it's always been done without understanding, that the world, their world, has changed 360 degrees.

Clearly too, one is not a substitute for the other, despite traditional TV data produced (and paid for) by TV Broadcasters which is dubious, at best.

It's common sense to understand that the TV audience is in decline.

With the high penetration of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter) predominant and with their peak usage in evening times, has to mean less TV is being watched. You can't be actively doing both.

The increasing high penetration of Ad-free streaming services (Netflix has over 250,000 homes in Ireland alone) which are watched at peak time, has to mean less TV viewing. 

The cable chord cutters are watching less TV too de facto. The prevalence of second screen viewing, must mean less TV is being watched. The huge growth in YouTube especially amongst the youngers, means they're watching less TV.

The decline in published ratings, means less TV is being watched in itself albeit, US broadcasters are now dependent on live sports rather than traditional "shows".

The growth of Apps (Tinder for example) at the very least, diminishes the OTS (opportunity to see) of TV. The growth of Mobile activity takes away from TV viewing. Better broadband brings homes more digital viewing opportunities as well. The Ipad and ITunes. 

And so on it goes on, common sense. The more distractions, especially at key peak time (high advertising expenditure times), the more TV viewing will decline. 

It struck us in this week especially, what a great example of video effectiveness this was.

In less than two days, this online digital video topped over 100 million views and is now Facebook's most video live video ever. We have no doubt it is already over 200 million views.

The Hasbro mask (44.99 usd) sold out (

And the Media cost? Zero. Nothing. Nada. Except the cost of producing the video.

Now what TV Campaign could deliver that audience? None

And at what cost? Certainly millions of dollars if you could achieve it using TV.... which you can't.

And the one big reason? Shareability. 

You can't share a TV Commercial and that's one big downside of traditional TV viewing (despite audience numbers) where Digital has the advantage (as this video shows).

Not only can it be shared, but to a like-minded demographic (friends and followers), a marketers dream in fact. Thereby, effectively communicating the message exactly to the target. 

So when we talk about TV Advertising effectiveness, let's not kid ourselves because we want Clients to keep thinking our own vested interest, or, because we can't keep up with the digital age.....

And let's not argue blindly.

There's a role for both, absolutely. 

One is growing, one is declining, but all that means is that the eyeballs are switching. And as marketers or Ad men and girls, that's what should concern us most. 

Rather than defend a position because it's all we know. What are we afraid of here? It's good news because online video creates new, long form opportunity. No longer are we hampered by that 30 second Commercial length for example which should nurture creativity. 

Stopping Digital Video is like standing on Dollymount Strand and trying to push out the waves. 

Let's not do that and let's give the correct answer to Clients. Impartial arbitors of media.

Like the peasant's in Lamb's essay, we know not how to roast pork, other than to burn the house down.

Monday 23 May 2016

Instagram Video is 60% of all Ads Q1 2016. If you're on Instagram, get Video.

There's a surge in interest on Instagram and Video Ads are taking over....

In the first quarter of 2016, 60% of all advertising impressions were Video on Instagram. That's pretty much doubled since December 2015.

Because of that, Instagram is adjusting to improve their video offering. They're now showing view counts as well as extending the Video length from 30 to 60 seconds. 

Video is right on the spot for that 18-30 Instagram user who are more likely to share Video than any other format. 112% more likely according to the 'Unruly' survey.

So if you want to effective on Instagram, get effective Video...go to