The perfect local storm in one meeting

Last week I met some new people. Well, new to me. Turns out that what they do isn’t new at all, I was just ignorant of their work. One person’s innovation is another person’s normal.

We met in London, on semi-neutral ground, bringing different perspectives to the table, from different areas of the UK. And yet we were all representing local, through our own lens.

The catalyst for the meeting was Matt Waring from Addiply (@mattwaring, @addiplylondon), the  local online ad platform that brings both editorial control and pricing model control for local site managers across the UK.

The ‘new’ part for me was Jaqui Devereux and Donald McTernan from the Community Media Association. The CMA support around 220 local community radio stations around the UK. They sit on panels helping to shape the local media landscape, and represent broadcast at a not just local level, but more importantly, a local community level.

And representing EMO, and therefore local marketers everywhere, was me.

We went around the table, each sharing who we were, what we did, and what we thought we might get from the meeting (you know the drill). Matt kicked us off knowing, as they do, EMO’s local bent and the CMA’s and their affiliated stations growing need to replace a model based on funding, to one advertising and partnership revenues from other sources. Addiply’s individual (per site) control model may well be a solution for the CMA’s stations with a simple route to ‘monetising’ their websites, bringing as it does the opportunity to determine how, and how much advertisers will be charged. But perhaps more importantly, for a network defined by its diversity, Addiply’s platform provides editorial control over advertisers content. For in this space it is the community that defines what is right and wrong for the community to support, not a sales team for another organisation.

Jaqui followed on, and described to me a world of local empowerment, the blurred lines between small independent commercial radio and community radio, the governance that gives the network structure, but also legitimacy. The passion is tangible, and feels very much like it is powered by the trust placed in the CMA by the network of stations they represent. Interesting and important work is already going on direct with government bodies, targeted support for local communities to get the right messages about local health services and opportunity to the communities they serve. The organisation is set-up for, and very good at, empowerment, support and representation – but in addition to this they need to first craft and then magnify the commercial opportunity to help these stations survive, and thrive. Developments around the opening up of the analogue transmission network, Local TV and web transmission provide new and exciting opportunities, which all cost money.

I closed the loop. Matt and Jaqui has asked me to look a the situation from the perspective of our agency, from agencies in general and from that of the local advertiser. So I spoke about our work, our targeting and how traditional radio broadcast very regularly doesn’t meet our criteria (or our local clients’ briefs) in terms of relevance, reach/wastage, or response.  (NB: Which is not to say that Independent Local Radio is a channel to be dismissed – in the right mix it is very powerful – but rarely do we find we can hone down the audience with the detail that our consultancy results require).

This is where the CMA’s network hold the aces. But aces, from a different pack of cards. Their stations aren’t bound by the need for wide reach and multiple zero’s in their audience figures. They are focussed on their community. Their audience is what it is. Some listeners form a regular, daily audience, some cherry pick the right content, in the right language, at the right time of day. They aren’t held by an intangible demographic group, but by shared beliefs, ethnicity, interest and a shared location. This is powerful stuff for EMO – in the right situation, for the right brief it could be the perfect storm of relevant content, passionate editorial, specific and shared community perspective. But miss by an inch and it might as well be miles away from right.

And therein lies the CMA’s challenge. Commerciality in terms of standard media planning rely on reach, which their network has in pockets. The value of specific and targeted reach goes head to head with general awareness from larger audiences.

I am looking forward to seeing where this goes.

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Guerilla Creative

This hairy man – otherwise known as his Creative Directorness, Andy Purnell – stormed the offices this morning in guerrilla fashion, delivering a drive-by creative presentation.  Just to jolt us out of our mid-morning comfort zones, and into the realm of ever-better creative brief writing. We considered it a teaser, ahead of an all-agency initiative to refine and develop our creative briefing practices – something that no agency should ever rest on their laurels with.  We’re collectively looking forward to more interruptive broadcasts from Mr P.

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Estimating the value in Personal Location Data

Location-based services have popped up everywhere over the past few years. Most of us can look back to the first views of Earth from above with Google Earth (grainy, patchy images that our dial up connection struggled with) and laugh a little. Now, LBS is everywhere.

We think LBS is interesting, obviously. But I was flicking through the McKinsey ‘big data’ report and saw this.

What the…?  How did McKinsey get to this number?

Turns out, McKinsey used their super brains and super computers to ‘look at the value chain of location-based applications‘. They looked at the amount of data generation and the potential value created.

  • amount of data generated across regions, user behaviour, and frequency of use.
  • the value chain of LBS. How do individual consumers use and benefit from LBS? How do enterprises or governments benefit?

McKinsey themselves say that their estimation is conservative, and it could well be more. But if you think about the process of using a personal navigation device, you’ll immediately see the value of time saving, fuel consumption reduction.

Other types of LBS like check-in services (Facebook Places, Foursquare etc), local information sourcing tools (LocalMind, Neer), and community noticeboards and news sites (EveryBlock etc) also add value and decrease costs in many ways. One of those is increased marketing relevancy. We can (and have) discuss the balance of personal data privacy vs openness, but the fact remains that as people become more permissive about what they will share openly, we marketers have more opportunities to communicate more effectively, meaning more ££ spent in the right place, less wastage, and better results.  And that’s something we can all get behind.

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RockMelt. The ultimate browser goes local (but not hyper-local)

RockMelt is a browser based on Google Chrome that’s pretty revolutionary. There are lots of reasons why several of the Digital team use it – mainly because it’s simpler and easier than Safari, IE, and even Firefox. The main feature is that it’s integrated with social media, which means that you can add RSS feeds and updates from Twitter or Facebook in a nice little organised side bar.

Although it sounds like RockMelt’s ‘always on’ features will distract you fundamentally by pushing all the distractions further into your view, it doesn’t. It shows you a count, so that you don’t get stuck in that process of going back to check what’s going on all the time (Fear Of Missing Out). If your FOMO gets too bad, now there’s a feature that let’s you go into ‘quiet mode’ – so you can ‘pause’ the distraction temporarily and get on with the task at hand.

Then there is the ‘View Later’ button. On all of your feeds, and all of the pages you’re browsing, you can use the ‘View Later’ function to collate all the bits and pieces you’d like to save until you have the head space. So useful.

But most importantly, now you can search in browser and select which country’s search results you want to see. So for example, if I want to see how high in the results Tesco is when people in Russia search for ‘Tesco’, I can do that easily, without having to use a masking site or other weird and wonderful tools.

So this browser (like all browsers) is not giving me hyper-local search results unless I tell it to in my search terms, but it’s helping me see things from another country’s view. And if RockMelt can build it for country level search results, maybe default regional or hyper-local search results filters are around the corner.

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Local Marketing Round-up #1

Marissa Meyer explained more about Google Business Photos at Social Loco early last week – an extension to Google Maps that allows business owners to have photos taken by Google of the interior of their business. She also explained that Google’s two pillars of Local are Maps and Places. Only available in selected cities so far but includes London.

Facebook Deals launched in Alpha in 5 US markets. Most interesting about this is the way that Deals are promoted to users living in those markets. Deals has been given a high priority space on the left-hand navigation as well as a pop up when the user logs in. The pop up asks the user for even more granular location information (ie Zip code) rather than the city that the users have already entered. Clearly, Facebook is planning to hit the location relevancy hard. No news yet on whether the Zip codes captured at this stage will be usable for Facebook advertising.

Great news for Local Mobile Marketers with a new Smartphone user study released by Google in late April. News for Local Marketers is that 9 out of 10 Smartphone searches result in an action (purchasing, visiting a business, etc.), and 88% of these searches result in action being taken within a day – Mobile = Fast conversion!

A sad day for Local blogging with the ending of the Guardian Local experiment. Three local blogs in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds were highly valued in the community, but deemed unsustainable in the current format. Will Perrin from Talk About Local makes some incredibly wonderful points – mainly around the balance between community vs commercial sustainability, and Ed Oldfield gives us a bit more info about the commercial and advertising side of the experiment.

Tim @ The Daily Infographic published an excellent summary of the Deals space – Facebook Deals vs Google Deals vs Groupon vs Living Social. Not really news but a nod to a helpful resource!

Finally, eBay continues on a shopping spree for businesses that give them local capabilities with their acquisition of local media and advertising company Where. Here’s TechCrunch’s announcement and summary of eBay’s Local aspirations.

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Nice interactive digital experience for Evoque

This is the ‘Trailer’ for a new interactive digital experience for the Range Rover Evoque Pulse of the City project. It’s a choose your own adventure film called Being Henry.

Starring Leo Fitzpatrick (The Wire) and directed by Nick Gordon (Levi’s, Sony, Doritos), Being Henry is housed on a dedicated Adobe Flash site. It’s basically composed of multiple videos that seamlessly switch when the viewer clicks on Henry and drags him toward a certain decision. The dragging sequence is done via a series of JPEGs that cut smoothly into the live action.

The viewer manipulates through a series of choices, resulting in nine storylines and 32 different endings. (Check out the video for a taste of what kinds of things happen in all the possible stories.)

The product tie-in? Every choice you make — taking chances, looking for love, etc. — apparently determines your ideal Range Rover Evoque, which you’re presented with at the end of the film.

If the idea seems familiar, you may recall that we have already ‘been there, done that’ with an ‘experience’ for the Alfa MiTo last year. Again proving that EMO can get ahead of the curve when given the opportunity.

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THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

I want to start my EMO blogging career not by sharing some stunning creative I have seen, or more importantly these days, experienced but by sharing my thoughts on the changing shape of the ‘marketing agency’ and how that shape relates to EMO and how it will affect the creative solutions we produce.

So, what do I mean by shape?

Clients are demanding new and different ways of approaching their marketing problems from their agencies. To quote an article I read in Campaign recently, the marketing director of a major retail bank said “In my siloed world, I just want people who don’t think in silos.”

A traditional ‘agency’ is ‘shaped’ around the multi-department structure. Planning, Media, Creative, Account Management, Production etc. All beavering away in their own silos on their ‘bits’ of the brief.

Many in our industry believe that this traditional silo structure is on its way out and in its place is a more collaborative way of working.

Setting up new agency, Now, strategist Kate Waters said their aim is to “…create a more fluid agency structure, organised not in departments but in ideas teams.”

Endorsing that thinking is Andy Fowler executive creative director at Brothers & Sisters who says “We wanted to create a much more collaborative agency – much less departmentalised – still with every skill you could imagine but working together in a more collaborative way.”

Agencies are ‘knocking down’ walls between departments. Skills and disciplines still exist but this integrated approach enables an agency to create more bespoke solutions to a client’s marketing challenges.

This is something that EMO and in particular its ‘Localisation’ offering is embracing and delivering.

Here at EMO we have the talent and experience from a host of different backgrounds that are able to work together to produce solutions that meet our clients’ needs. From a website design to an experiential event, from an ad campaign to social marketing.

Another major factor of this collaboration concept is the impact of digital technology.*

Today, digital is a common denominator of almost every form of marketing communication, it has created channels though which every big idea can be transmitted.

And so the big idea becomes the central core, and then the appropriate communication channels are selected for it. As a result, according to Dare’s deputy chairman, John Owen, “agencies need to write briefs that are less directional. They need to apply a more discipline-neutral approach.”

So what is the ideal shape for the marketing agency of the future?

In my opinion it is an agency that has a broad range of production capabilities ‘in house’ (geared to the digital age) that work closely together to ensure their expertise is shared throughout a campaign’s development.

Explaining the agency of the future Owen imagines it as “three concentric circles. The ideas are in the centre, with a variety of ‘in-house’ production skills surrounding them and beyond that are external production resources that are either unavailable or uneconomical to provide directly. The production skills blend with each other and with the planning core. There are no partitions either conceptual or physical.”

While there will always be a need for an agency to deliver a retail urgent, reactive response, this is best served by an underlying bedrock of multi-disciplined, collaborative talents, where ideas are at the very core and routes to market are diverse and emergent. Creative can thrive in an agency shaped like this, as can client business. It’s a shape that EMO can look to and see that, with ever-continuing moulding, it’s not all that far away.

*As if to emphasise its importance, the investment bank JP Morgan recently launched a $500 million fund to invest in digital and social media companies on the back of investor interest in Facebook and Twitter. It’s hard to believe that Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist 6 years ago!

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New Cars are like Local Marketing

When you buy a car, suddenly you start noticing all the other cars that are the same as yours, so much so that you’re convinced that there are more than there were before.

The transition between marketing ‘generally’ and then marketing ‘locally’ is similar. When you’re working in an agency that specialises in Local Marketing, suddenly you wonder how you missed all the stuff going on in the Local Marketing space. It’s so fundamentally obvious that in the battle for relevancy, proximity matters.  Everywhere you look, people are talking about local – and not just as an intangible theory, but as an actual ‘thing’.

An actual ‘thing’, you say?

A highlight of the series of Maroon Peugeot 307s is the launch of a new US hyper-local industry trade publication StreetFight a few days ago. They’ve positioned the service as a collection of everything that’s happening in the hyper-local space, including vouchering, check in services, and local news sites. Then there’s the super-massive Patch.com hyper-local news service based in the US run by Arianna Huffington. EveryBlock (US) and StickyBoard (UK) community noticeboards have redesigned and launched respectively. Talk about Local‘s community efforts are ongoing and the Big Society ideas continue to generate meaningful conversation. These are just a few of the bigger things that are going on, but community activities and new ways to use technology to help communities engage are popping up every day. So too are hyper-local, hyper-relevant marketing opportunities.

People continue to have debates about the definition of the words hyper-local, localisation, local marketing… whatever we end up calling it in the history books, we’re part of a shift.  The UK’s take on local is a little different to the US’s as pointed out wonderfully by Joni Ayn Alexander, but the main point is the same. It’s a thing.

A thing with big agencies predicting daft numbers like 42.5 billion dollars by 2015.

You can’t even escape it in the pub! This poster for Venue Magazine (the local Bristol/Bath magazine that’s recently been under fire but lives to fight another day) was up in the Portcullis.

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