Just finished reading Velocity, a conversational-style book written by Ajaz Ahmed, co-founder of the digital agency AKQA and Stefan Olander, VP of Digital Sport for Nike.

There is a lot of common-sense thinking in this book, but I worry that common-sense is not currently common-practice because the media business is not set up to work to Velocity’s rules.

I don’t want to ruin the book for those who have yet to read it, but quotes from the book such as “The best advertising isn’t advertising” and “make meaningful connections” will give you an idea about what I am talking about.

The media business seems to me to be built to buy scale, and as efficiently and cheaply as possible. That is at loggerheads with Velocity for sure.

Good book though, I would recommend it.

Facebook’s mobile ad proposition

In my spare time I am making a documentary, and I need to reach a very niche audience in order to complete my work. I need to reach people who support Liverpool FC and who were at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, on April 15th 1989. There were only 24,000 Liverpool fans there that day, and so in a country with over 60m people in it, that is a needle in a haystack stuff. I don’t know of many other media solutions who could have helped me reach that audience.
I personally decided to place a Facebook ad campaign, once the power of Twitter had started to yield fewer and fewer results. I got a small display box with about 20 words that appeared on the side of users timeline.
The targeting possible was immense. I paid on a cost-per-click basis for advertising to reach a super-targeted group of people who were aged 35 or older, and have liked Liverpool FC on Facebook and who live within a 25 mile radius of Liverpool.
The reason that targeting was important? If my advertising reaches a person under 35 then they would have been a child when the disaster unfolded, and thus no use to my documentary.
The value of the person liking Liverpool FC and living in a close radius to Liverpool is hopefully obvious, but together they gave me a real chance of reaching people who may have been at Hillsborough on 15th April 1989, when 96 Liverpool fans ultimately lost their lives.
I opted to pay on a cost-per-click basis, with my advert asking users to click and like my Facebook page if they were at Hillsborough. The result? I had over 200 clicks, and the final result is that I have found four survivors who are willing to tell me their heartbreaking, yet incredible story as a direct result of an investment of less than £40. I have no way of measuring the additional value of all those in my target audience who saw my ad, but didn’t click on it, which were effectively free impressions.
My point to all of this is that whatever Facebook do with their much-anticipated mobile advertising launch, it’s going to be pretty compelling. Let’s face it, their sheer scale of audience and the data they have on that audience means that they can target broadly and narrowly with unerring accuracy.
So, you’re an independent Indian restaurant in Epsom? No problem! I can deliver you 10,000 Facebook users aged 25 or over, who have liked a food page, and who live in the towns within a 3 mile radius AND you only pay if they click to like your
Facebook page! If The Facebook hyper-local sales team isn’t being built now, then I openly put myself forward to launch it … Another ‘no brainer’ 🙂
So, if Facebook could plug a mobile ad-serving engine into that plethora of data like they have like they can online, then in my humble opinion, they don’t need to do any more in the short and medium term other than include a mobile banner at the top of every page load.
It’s not exactly innovative I realise, and it might seem ancient to the brilliant minds at Facebook, but it would pull like a runaway train and there would be no shortage of commuters on that journey. The modest mobile banner is usable across virtually all smartphone platforms and it is being traded as the de facto ad unit by most mobile specialists. It commands approximately 10-15% of the mobile screen real-estate, and without competing with other advertising messages. Add to that the rich media capabilities that companies such as Celtra offer with the super-accurate data that Facebook have, and you have a really sexy offering. Digital banners have been traded for years, and so the sell into advertisers would be pain-free.
Let’s put a business plan together on the back of a post-it note.
Facebook have over 200m users (real people’ not IP’s) worldwide. Let’s assume, for the purposes of this exercise, that 200m real people only create 5 page impressions each every month. That’s 1b page impressions and at one dollar for every thousand impressions you start to see a business that would be attractive to anybody, right? A billion dollar business, virtually overnight, and in actual fact the number of page impressions and the CPM would be considerably higher than that I’m sure.
Like everyone else this game, I await their mobile ad offering with interest.

Ashley Highfield on mobile at this year’s IAB Engage conference.

Only just found Ashley Highfield’s excellent presentation on mobile from this year’s IAB Engage conference. Well worth a watch:

Key take outs:

 More smartphone’s are sold currently than PC’s.

28% of all time spent on the internet is via a mobile device, but only 2-3% of advertising budgets are currently invested.

UK has 45m mobile phone users and 26m of those are using mobile media.

86% of people are doing something else while watching television.

William Hill’s fastest growing revenue stream is bet in-play. E.g. where somebody is watching a football match and betting on their mobile on the next goal scorer simultaneously.

10% of all searches on Bing are from mobile devices.

Video: The No.1 choice for brands wanting to tell consumers a story.

My argument would be that video is the most powerful creative format that you can employ, because it combines sight, sound and motion to most closely resemble the way people experience their everyday lives. The different emotions and personalities that can be achieved by using different music over the same pictures is marked, and it is my belief that no other creative format can offer more story-telling power. My idea is that if a picture speaks a thousand words, then a video speaks a million.

If I wrote a thousand words trying to describe what just a brief glance around my office revealed to me the chances of two different people getting an accurate picture, or even a similar picture is remote. That’s because everybody’s imagination and previous experiences are different and that would cloud the way you interpret my words. In fact everybody that read my words would have a different version of the office in their mind’s eye, and if you are a brand then you don’t really want everybody walking around with a different perception of your brand story in their head!

For over half a century television and cinema had the power of video to themselves, but now with faster internet connections, more and more people are watching video over the internet and indeed on mobile devices. As Kevin Roberts, Worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi put it in his fantastic book Sisomo “The future is on-screen”. Sisomo stands for Sight, Sound and Motion by the way.

Here is a hypothetical scenario to test my theory. You have a magic wand. You are the Harry Potter of the media & advertising world, and with one thrash of that marvelous stick you can instantly make the 1m people you want your brand to talk to the most do one of the following things:

Read a newspaper title of your choice. Your magic wand can’t make them look at your advert within that newspaper any more or any less than they would ordinarily, but you can be assured that they will pick up a copy of the newspaper that your advert is placed in.

Walk past a 96 sheet poster site. Again, similar rules. Your message will be on that poster site, but your magic can’t influence the consumer to pay any more or any less attention that they ordinarily would.

Read a particular magazine. Always the same rules. You have an ad in the mag, but the consumer will not be influenced any more or less, or pay any more or any less attention than normal.

Listen to a radio show. You get an ad, they notice or they don’t.

Watch a particular film at the cinema. You understand the rules by now. You’ll get your spot run before the film starts, but you’ll not be able to influence how much attention is paid.

 Watch a specific television programme. You get a spot in the centre break, but the consumer acts in a totally normal way in terms of noticing and attention span.

Watch a piece of video content on their PC. You have a 15 second video pre-roll placed before that content, which they must watch in order to view the free video content.

Open an app on their smartphone. As the app launches, you have a 15 second pre-roll that plays before the user can get to the free content.

I could go on and on. But if you imagine that the cost of creative was no barrier, and you had the requisite talent to make the very best advert possible to run in any of the above media channels, which one would you chose?

My formative years in media were spent working with newspapers, but given the magic wand described above, I would choose the creative medium of video every time. I’d seriously think about TV, and would get close to choosing the big screen, dark room experience of cinema, but for the attention span and impact, I would settle on a short video pre-roll to run before a premium app launch on a smartphone. The most persuasive creative format on the most personal media channel.

Before I get pulled up by people working in other mediums, I know of the all-important ‘media mix’ and that all media have their relative strengths and importance’s to a media schedule, but if you were to choose only one in a hypothetical world then it is my opinion that video will give you more bang for your buck, or more pull for your pound.