Tag Archives: Twitter

TV saves Twitter yet again

Only joking (again).

As Thinkbox has said roughly a million times, there’s no saving to be done – on either side. It is one happy, mutually beneficial relationship. Social TV at its finest.

But it is interesting, don’t you think, that Twitter has just made and broadcast its first ever TV ad? Clearly it feels broadcast TV advertising has something to offer it that it isn’t getting elsewhere. Not a case of saving, but certainly a case of adding something. Read more on TV saves Twitter yet again…

Milking TV’s goodness

Well, Yeo Valley nailed it, they gave it 120%, they took that ad break and they made it their own. They even, to use a couple of Kelly Rowland-isms, both “brought it” and “put it dowwwn!”

BBH’s new TV ad for Yeo Valley is an impeccable and affectionate parody of boy band videos that was hugely entertaining and extremely well branded, but it was also a masterclass on how and why great creative TV advertising works as well as it does. Read more on Milking TV’s goodness…

With this social media you are spoiling us

There are a couple of things one could read into the fact that the BAFTA Television Awards – broadcast live on Sunday night – enjoyed its biggest TV audience since 2008.

The first is that it might reflect the renewed interest and passion for all things TV. TV has been undergoing something of a renaissance, with record viewing figures, new ways to watch, and – for commercial TV – a growing share of advertising revenue. It wouldn’t be surprising if a celebration of its best in class echoed this trend. Read more on With this social media you are spoiling us…

Twittle-tattle will only be ‘first’ in hindsight

For once, this blog isn’t about TV. Well, perhaps a tad. You’ll hardly notice.  It’s about Twitter and (before you stifle that yawn, or perhaps tweet it) the furore around the superinjunctions.

A lot is being made of how individuals on Twitter – we must remember it is not Twitter itself, just a handful of its users – and elsewhere online can ignore mainstream media constraints and reveal/speculate on the identities of those alleged naughty bed-hoppers and adulterers behind the superinjunctions. Read more on Twittle-tattle will only be ‘first’ in hindsight…

The Winner Takes It All

So that’s it then.  After weeks of following the contestants, marvelling at their talent (or lack of it) and getting immersed in their life stories, last weekend the ultimate winner emerged: Adam.  Adam?  Matt, surely?  No, dear readers.  While the rest of the UK, including most broadsheet journalists, marketers, agencies and MPs it seems, was being sucked in by the enormous telly magnet that is The X Factor, the Alps family was engrossed in the final of Australian Masterchef on Watch.

We’ve got our own Facebook fangroup, a fraction of the size of the X Factor Facebook group fair enough, but still a place for us fans to express our support.  We tweet about whether Callum, Marion or Jonathan would have been a more worthy winner, though there aren’t enough to propel the hashtag into Top Trends.  But we love those guys.

This programme is a phenomenon in Australia, delivering the highest ratings of their TV year and it’s the 4th highest viewed TV series this decade down under.  It is the offspring of the original British Masterchef, the format owned by UK production company Shine, but it feels worlds apart.  The rather tense British series, with granite-faced John Torode and Greg “cooking doesn’t get any tougher than this” Wallace has blossomed in Australia to a joyful expression of a sunny, generous, multi-cultural society with some of the best raw ingredients in the world.   Over 16 weeks, with 6 episodes a week, we saw 24 competitors, representing the incredible diversity of Australia, battle it out with great civility and courtesy.

So, a great show, but also a perfect illustration of the burgeoning global market that is British TV formats.  The UK is now the biggest exporter of TV formats in the world, from Strictly Come Dancing to Come Dine With Me, all part of the UK’s successful creative industries which now account for 8% of GDP and growing.   And The X Factor will shortly be joining this select band of globe-trotting UK programmes.  It will be fun seeing how that translates over the Atlantic; who on earth will be the American Louis Walsh?  Your guesses please below.

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Read more on The Winner Takes It All…

TV weaves through the MediaGuardian 100

It might just be me, but the annual MediaGuardian 100 – just published – provides a lovely insight into the many ways TV touches upon our different media and various parts of our media lives. It is an elegant – albeit accidental – exposition of convergence and shows how TV is the strong and consistent thread running through almost every aspect of the media landscape.

The set-up for the list betrays a lingering – though thankfully declining – propensity to play ‘old’ or ‘traditional’ media off against ‘new’ or ‘digital’ media. The front page introduces the 100 (which comes with a heavy disclaimer on how it was chosen) by saying:

“Back in the heady days of 2001, [the list] was topped by big broadcasters, AOL and someone called Gordon Brown. How things change…This year, more than ever, digital dominates, with the rise of social media bringing new challenges to traditional businesses. Will newspaper bosses ever dominate the lists again?”

Now I can’t answer that last question, and I suspect the answer is no-one really knows.  But the direction of travel seems to be most definitely from text to audio-visual, whatever technology or platform you’re looking at.  

A Thinkbox interpretation of how TV (an almost entirely digital and very social medium) figures within the top 10 alone will, I’m sure, convince you that TV is truly where it’s at.

Here is the top 10:

1. Steve Jobs, Apple: makes flat devices with screens that let you watch more TV; TV on the bus, TV at work. If he could make faded jeans and black roll necks with screens on, I’m sure he would.
2. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google: search is hugely driven by TV programmes and ads.  Joined the TV business by buying YouTube, a recent convert to ‘proper’ professional TV, making it another TV platform.  Recently announced the coming of Google TV.
3. Mark Thompson, BBC: works for a company that makes some of the best TV in the world, and a pioneer of on-demand TV with iPlayer
4. Rupert Murdoch, News Corp: the Daddy of pay TV.  Trying to buy all of Sky.  MediaGuardian says he is ‘betting the future on television’
5. Evan Williams, Twitter: nothing gives a better window into how TV’s shared ‘virtual sofa’ encourages real time debate and chatter than Twitter. It would be a lot quieter without TV
6. Simon Cowell: fronts and owns some of the biggest TV shows in the UK (and isn’t exactly small on US TV)
7. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook: owner of the home to countless TV programme and advertising fan pages and conversations. Facebook without TV would be a less exciting, and visited, place.
8. James Murdoch, News Corp and BSkyB: chairman of a major UK TV company
9. Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary: obviously will have more than a passing interest in all things TV, especially how it is funded
10. Archie Norman, ITV: chairman of the largest commercial UK TV channel group

And we need not stop at the top 10 (at 11 is Martin Sorrell, who makes a fair bit of money from commercial TV; at 12 is Jay Hunt, controller of BBC1…).

Obviously, even I might struggle to see the TV-ness of some of the people in the 100 (Clay Shirky, [no. 93], for example – although he was only too happy to use TV interviews to plug his new book, on sale at all good bookshops priced at £20 – or you can get the gist for free here).

But my point is that, although this blog is an obviously TV-centric way of looking at it (radio and newspapers could have a go too), I’d suggest it is as valid – if not more so – as banging on endlessly about global ‘digital’ technologists.  The list should be at least as much about the people who make the content, professional or not, that makes digital platforms, broadcast and online, worth visiting.

Read more on TV weaves through the MediaGuardian 100…

That’s Numberwang!

Twitter announced last month that it had reached its ten billionth tweet.  That, dear readers, is Numberwang.  The news provoked the esteemed Claire Beale to comment that Twitter had therefore become a ‘mass medium’.  

Brand Republic recently ran the following story:  ‘A cinema ad for South African Tourism delivered an estimated 451,289 impacts last weekend, according to figures from cinema sales house Digital Cinema Media’; this was shortly followed by another story about cinema delivering ‘at least one million impacts over the weekend’ for a new ad from Puma. More classic cases of Numberwanging.

We’re no better at Thinkbox; we can Numberwang with the best.  We have taken to telling people that 2.5 billion TV ads are seen every day in the UK, at normal speed.  In our monthly reports we now have a page where we list the brands with the most ‘views’ in the month (fyi in February it was Morrisons with 695 million TV ‘views’).

All of those numbers are accurate – but what do they mean?  

Rather than bandy about 2.5 billion TV ads a day, it’s infinitely more helpful to tell people that the average person sees 43 each day. Rather than the baffling number of 695 million impacts, it would be more meaningful to say that 87% of the UK had seen the Morrisons’ ad an average of 14 times in February.   Or that 0.8% of the UK population saw the South African Tourism cinema ad once each that weekend (i.e. like buying one spot in a repeat of Rising Damp on ITV3).  

When Mitchell and Webb first created their brilliant Numberwang sketch, about a gameshow based on utterly meaningless and absurdly random numbers, it’s tempting to think they had the media industry in mind.  On the surface, it looks like there may be some method to the maths; but it is in fact just plain madness. Numberwanging is the (ab)use of statistics to impress and divert people, but ultimately to obfuscate rather than enlighten.

Read more on That’s Numberwang!…

A load of WOM-bull

As Uncle Bulgaria could have told you, it’s a lifetime’s work clearing up the rubbish that litters the marketing landscape.  One of the current topics flapping annoyingly in the breeze is all the nonsense uttered about ‘word of mouth’, or WOM for short.

Most weeks you’ll find a story about some brand abandoning brand advertising and instead investing in a WOM strategy.  Last year, I attended two conferences where the same speaker – a renowned expert in the social media space – put up a chart headed “Word of mouth is the new television”.  

It’s difficult to know quite where to start with such a statement, but I’ll have a go.

It makes the frankly barking assumption that the ‘old’ television – i.e. real television – is being replaced; it thinks of media experiences as neat little silos that don’t overlap; and it fails to recognise that ‘word of mouth’ of any significance cannot exist in a vacuum and relies on the media it is apparently ‘replacing’ to provide the oxygen.

Part of the problem is that practitioners in this space see WOM as a new media channel, primarily via social media online.  But WOM has existed since the dawn of language. It has always been part of the marketing ‘eco-system’ and it is indeed very important.  At least we can agree on that.

New research from US WOM specialists Keller Fay puts the debate into focus. They have produced a WOM monitoring tool, based on the reported conversations of over 36,000 people. Not only does the research demonstrate the huge influence WOM has on our brand perceptions and experiences, it also highlights where these conversations are taking place and which brands they feature, as well as what causes them.

Only 6% of brand-related conversations take place online.  A further 15% are conducted on the ‘phone, whilst over three quarters are conducted  via our preferred social media platform: face-to-face.

Another sobering thought is that the conversations digerati might be having among themselves are not necessarily a reflection of the wider world. The top categories for brand-related conversations are food and dining, followed by media and entertainment. Technology is sixth on the list. Similarly, the top five talked about brands are Coke, Pepsi, Wal-Mart and two telecoms companies; not a Twitter or Apple amongst them.

But perhaps the most exciting finding for those of us in the marketing industry is that almost half of all consumer brand conversations refer directly to those brands’ marketing or media activity, and that the biggest single factor influencing those conversations is good old brand advertising.

If we bring into the mix TV’s ability to create talkability and ‘buzz’ around brands (as demonstrated by both the IPA ‘Marketing in the Era of Accountability’ study and YouGov’s Brand Index data) then we realise how much we need tools to identify and optimise these amplification effects.

Our recent research with Facebook started to explore the rich rewards available to brands which recognise and nurture the relationship between TV ads and facilitated WOM.

The good news is that the IPA Touchpoints study will be including metrics based around the Keller Fay findings in this year’s data. I’m looking forward to using it, not least to  finally bin the ridiculous notion that TV and word of mouth are unrelated and replacements for each other, rather than the fabulously complementary phenomena that they are.

Read more on A load of WOM-bull…

More cushions on the virtual sofa

I saw an ad for Sony’s new generation of internet TVs this morning. The interesting part about it was the new functionalities it chose to focus on; in this case, the ability to merge Facebook and Twitter into the TV viewing experience.

A lot of discussion has taken place about what internet-enabled TVs will be used for. As one of those lucky people invited to the launch of Microsoft’s Web TV product over a decade ago, I am pretty sure it won’t be what Microsoft had in mind; lots of unrelated information appearing over the TV content being viewed. TV is an immersive (and predominantly shared) experience and anything that distracts from that experience will generally not be welcomed.

Instead, it will be web-delivered apps that enhance the TV experience that are most likely to succeed in this market.  Along with enhanced search for on-demand TV content, I can think of few that improve the TV viewing experience as well as being able to ‘chat’ about it with our friends and family. This is what people have done with TV since the year dot and, as our recent TV Together research demonstrated, if they don’t have anybody in the room to share it with, then the ‘virtual sofa’ created by our increasing array of communication tools – phoning, texting, Messengering, emailing and now the social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter – do the job very nicely.  

So I think that the integration of social media is a sensible use of broadband-connected TV sets.  Two notes of caution though; because TV viewing is a mostly shared experience, on-screen chat about what you’re watching might not go down well with the rest of the family.  And people are already using separate devices – fixed and mobile ‘phones and laptops – that deliver this functionality very well so it might not be a killer app that will sell these TVs on its own.  But we welcome any new development that lets people share their telly love more easily.

The virtual sofa just got comfier.

Read more on More cushions on the virtual sofa…

Raging against which machine?

A couple of weekends ago I was fascinated by all the chat on Twitter about Johnny Depp; he had been killed in a car crash apparently.  Except that he wasn’t dead.  Oh yes he was, oh no he wasn’t.  So determined were the scammers they had even mocked up a superficially convincing CNN.com homepage link that was doing the rounds.  Let me make it clear for all Johnny Depp fans, he is NOT dead – or not, at least, at the time of writing.

But it was a perfect example of how easy it is for mischief to spread, how hard it is to authenticate sources in all forms of gossip, and how very vulnerable Twitter is to manipulation, whether for fun, evil or just plain old profit.

Which brings me to the Rage Against The Machine vs Joe McElderry Christmas no 1 hoo-ha.  This is not about musical taste. I would rather stick knitting needles through my ears than have to listen to either for any longer than it would take   to block them up with cotton wool.
 
The online campaign to prevent the X Factor winner from becoming the Christmas no 1 was initially presented as a spontaneous grassroots uprising against the forces of evil (aka Simon Cowell).  Maybe it was.  But I have also heard that it was a brilliantly executed piece of PR by RATM’s record company, Sony, (of which Simon Cowell also happens to be a director), which managed to dupe large numbers of people into buying a track that many hadn’t even heard – and sometimes disliked intensely when they heard it – in the belief that they were striking a blow for freedom.  Mmmm, conspiracy theory gone overboard?  The trouble is I have no idea which of those it was.

Let’s take the RATM campaign at face value for a moment.  Those who took part  positioned the 12m+ people who watched the X Factor, and the many millions who chose to vote and subsequently chose to buy recordings of any finalist and the winner as no more than mindless morons who did Simon Cowell’s bidding.   They, by contrast, were intellectually superior, anti-marketing, independently minded guardians of quality music.  

This sort of aristocratic arrogance is not uncommon on Twitter.   But in reality they were as much subject to the X Factor’s influence as anyone else, on the principle that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  When they pause to question who actually made them buy Rage Against the Machine they will find that it was Mr Simon Cowell, probably unintentionally, but also quite possibly deliberately.

Having watched the excellent Virtual Revolution on BBC2, a history of the internet, it’s clear that the web has been a massive democratiser and leveller and given a voice to many who would be denied one otherwise.  But it’s dangerous to treat it with quasi-religious reverence; we all need to maintain normal levels of scepticism and caution.

From now on, I am going to tread carefully before I get swept up in any online campaign until I can be satisfied what its origins – and motives – are.  And before I believe anything I read on Twitter, I am going to check it out with some professional, accredited, transparent journalistic source.  Here’s hoping there are a few left.  And before I sign off, please join me in my campaign to make the English Baroque Soloists’ recording of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio the 2010 Festive no 1 in which I promise I have no vested interest.

Read more on Raging against which machine?…

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