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Category Archives: Insights

What we’ve been reading | April 4 2014

The SourceDoug Aitken
A comprehensive public release of the artist Doug Aitken’s ongoing series of conversations with the creative individuals shaping contemporary culture | 4 min video

How Tesla is driving the new purpose economyCo.Exist
The electric car company is slowly reshaping how people think about driving. Following the same pattern can help any social entrepreneur get people excited about world-changing products. Here’s what Tesla is doing | 8 min read

Ex-Googler invents a better way to buy bras | Co.Design
San Francisco based startup Thirdlove is trying to revamp the awful bra-shopping experience by letting women size themselves int he privacy of their own homes | 5 min read

This Little-Known iOS feature will change the way we connect Wired
A new iOS app called FireChat is blowing up in the App Store. But it’s not the app itself that’s causing such a stir, it’s the underlying networking technology it taps into | 4 min read

This is what Candy Crush Saga does to your brain | Guardian
The Candy Crush game app exploits some well known weaknesses in the human brain to keep us playing | 4 min read

The rise of the API economy and consumer-led ecosystems Wired
Just a few years ago, application programming interfaces (APIs) were largely viewed as an easy, functional way to make applications work together, a digital adhesive of sorts. Today, the value of the API has evolved into much more than a simple bridging mechanism | 4 min read

Principles of good data analysisGreg Reda
Data analysis is hard. In this article, Data Analyst Greg Reda shares his top tips for making sure you don’t fall down the analytical rabbit hole | 5 min read

Human uniqueness | Nautilus
Shining a light on the spark that separates man from beast | 7 min read

15 common mistakes designers make | Creative Bloq
All designers make mistakes. Designer Craig Minchington examines the most common ones, and how to avoid them | 9 min read

D&AD names the best design projects of the year | D&AD
D&AD, organisers of the world’s most prestigious design award ceremony, reveals this year’s nominations | 5 min read

Embrace empathy – it’s good for you and your people | B&T
‘Employees will often forget what you say. They will often forget what you do. But they will never forget how you made them feel’ | 4 min read

25 Fascinating charts of negotiation styles around the world (Part 1) Business Insider
By focusing on the cultural roots of national behaviour, both in society and business, we can foresee and calculate how others will react to our plans for them, and we can make certain assumptions as to how they will approach us | 5 min read

24 Charts of leadership styles around the world (Part 2) Business Insider
Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception. There is, however, such a thing as a national norm | 5 min read

Here’s why you’re not hiring the best and the brightest First Round
‘Call me crazy, but I think if we’re going to talk about hiring the best talent available, we should actually try to do that. This means letting go of the idea that people need to be physically present for any meaningful work to occur’ | 10 min read

PR agencies will not exist in a decade | mUmBRELLA
Is that shocking enough for you? Well it’s true. Too many PR agencies are outdated, the traditional media landscape is shrinking, and with increasing numbers of advertising, social media and even SEO agencies getting in on the action, we need to smarten up’ | 5 min read

April Fools 2014 roundup | mUmBRELLA
April 1 brings out the fool in many of us and this year has been no exception. Here’s a wrap-up of the April Fools gags we’ve spotted, courtesy of the folks at mUmBRELLA | 5 min read

Why syncing into social values is important | MarketingMag
Ad agencies have been banging on about it for years. Marketing 101 lecturers are catching up and market researchers shy away from it. But the truth cannot be ignored: we just don’t think as much as we think we think | 6 min read

Spinach wins Karcher, Ledified, South Melbourne Market and more | B&T
The five wins utilise Spinach’s full suite of services, with the agency looking after media planning and buying, digital, creative, strategy and more for the new accounts | 5 min read

D&AD: Yellow Pencil Noms for Droga5, GPY&R, Havas, Leo Burnett, DDB, BMF and Jamshop | CampaignBrief
Australia ranked #4 behind UK, US and France | 3 min read


What we’ve been reading | 28th March

Inside the box | Slate
People don’t actually like creativity | 8 min read

Four deep trends affecting tech today | Co.Design
Including the blurry line between creepy and acceptable, the ability of technology to amplify and disrupt, the implications of embedded data, and opting in versus switching off | 5 min read

How mature is your organisation when it comes to UX? | UXMag
Every organisation has its own goals, processes, techniques, and teams—each with special characteristics. They are all important to consider when incorporating user experience, but it’s also crucial to gauge the maturity level of an organisation | 5 min read

Whatever goes up, that’s what we do SVBTLE
Remember that beautiful new Facebook redesign we were promised a year ago? It was so successful, they scrapped it | 5 min read

The secret world of fast fashion | Pacific Standard
What used to be a stable three-month production cycle—the time it takes to design, manufacture, and distribute clothing to stores, in an extraordinary globe-spanning process—has collapsed, across much of the industry, to just two weeks | 8 min read

How design education must change | LinkedIn
If design is to live up to its promise it must create new, enduring curricula for design education that merge science and technology, art, and business | 8 min read

That’s a nice little $40M eCommerce company you have there | Pando
Call me when it scales | 6 min read

How the internet actually works | Quartz
And why it’s impossible to know what makes your Netflix slow | 7 min read

Box | Creators Project
Exploring the synthesis of real and digital space through projection-mapping on moving surfaces. The short film documents a live performance, captured entirely in camera | 5 min video

How big data shapes AT&T’s advertising creative | AdAge
In-house scientists scrutinised 370 Ads to Unearth Secrets of Success | 5 min read

The unbelievable bus shelter | PepsiCo
Another great example of using the environment to create richer ad experiences | 2 min video

How to be a design boss without losing your soul | Co.Design
Five tips for making the move from Designer to Art Director | 5 min read

Why women make better business leaders | PSFK
How feminine skills and competencies will define the leaders of the future | 5 min read

Why you should stop brainstorming | HBR
How many times have you been in a brainstorming session this week? Chances are the answer is, “More than I can count.” But no study has proven that brainstorming works well, even though it has been the go-to method for idea generation since 1953 | 4 min video

Marketers are pitching to customers even as they shop | The Australian
Obsessed with relentlessly innovating their business model, marketers and agencies need to accept a constant state of progression or face obsolescence | 5 min read

Meet RAC + JWT’s Attention Powered Car | Campaign Brief
Using a neuro-sensory headset, custom software and the first ever algorithm to calculate what a moment of inattention looks like, the car goes when the driver is paying attention, and slows when he or she isn’t | 3 min read

Spin is so last yearmUmBRELLA
You Work in PR? Not that old chestnut again. Isn’t it time to move on and say something different? | 5 min read

Men don’t have awkward silences | mUmBRELLA
KFC is targeting men in its latest campaign promoting its ‘Mighty Burger’, with the ad suggesting awkward silences aren’t awkward for men as they don’t need to talk with words | 3 min read

Share a Coke wins inaugural GRAMA award | MarketingMag
The Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) kick started Global Marketer Week by announcing the winners of the inaugural Great Australian Marketing Awards (The GRAMAs) | 1 min read

Agency competition has become a ‘knife fight in a telephone box‘ | mUmBRELLA
Chris Savage, CEO of STW has told a conference of PR professionals that increasingly tense competition is one of the biggest issues facing the advertising industry | 4 min read

Zip it Up! | Lifehacker
People’s Choice Credit Union has launched a new gaming app in which player’s attempt to catch falling money. The hook is that the week’s best scores are converted into real cash and transferred into the player’s bank accounts. So what’s the catch? | 2 min read

Veteran journalist Emma Connors joins Ogilvy PR | Holmes
Connors joins Ogilvy PR as Senior Media Strategist after 17 years with the Australian Financial Review, where she wrote for the country’s only national business daily and sister publications BOSS and AFR Magazine | 2 min read


How wrestling prepared me for agency life

by Nextness published March 20, 2014 posted in Insights Management

Today’s guest post is by Adam Noakes at Switched on Media.

First up I need to say that I’ve never wrestled professionally – although many an old mattress was laid on the garden floor, and used as a WrestleMania ring mat.

A good few years before football, music, video games and movies would enamor a teenaged me – my interest and passion was for the entertainment sport of Wrestling. In fact, I watched my first WCW Main Event aged 7.

It’s only when you look back on experiences, to use a phrase from Steve Jobs, that you can really connect the dots.

I have come to realise that the lessons I learnt from the men and women of the WCW and WWF wrestling companies prepared me for agency life and the role of a leader.

You have to be both the hero and the villain

The very best wrestlers, and those not so good, would flip-flop between hero and villain status. This well-known trick to keep characters and storylines fresh is one that should resonate with leaders within marketing agencies. Even the greatest of wrestling legends have to play the bad guy: Hulk Hogan famously went ‘bad’ during his WCW days to become Hollywood Hulk Hogan, as part of the N.W.O (New World Order) group.

Embracing the fact that you can’t be popular all the time is a key truth of agency life. Sometimes you’ll have to make decisions, communicate change, or implement processes that will turn you from hero to villain in an instant. Remembering you will hear the cheer of the gathering crowd once again will keep you sane during these times.

A little showmanship goes a long way

The best wrestlers are true entertainers, some with elaborate face paint and pyrotechnics as part of their show; others able to turn a simple elbow drop into a dance and spectacle worthy of the Royal Dance Company.

In agency life, colleagues look for inspiration and motivation the same way as a wrestler trying to get up from a missed top-rope body splash. Clients crave theatre and entertainment in pitches, much like the crowd counting along with the wrestler laying a 10-punch combo on a forlorn opponent. Think about your agency – I bet there are plenty of examples of showmanship on display. And I bet it would be a dull place without it.

You can’t be the champion forever

Ric Flair is a 24 time champion, spanning various divisions and companies. His shortest title reign was a matter of hours. Whilst that example is extreme, it sets a valuable lesson in your expectation of success working in agencies.

Clients, much like title belts, come and go. You might have won your last title fight as the incumbent agency but what if the new Marketing Director is a fan of your title rival? For no good reason you can be stripped of the gold around your waste before the next main event.

Internally, you can’t hold the employee of the month title forever. Your colleagues all train as hard as you, so it’s only right they get their hands on the prize too.

One day you win a pitch and feel like a champ. The next day your finance director rejects a budget increase that you’ve been wrangling for months. You can’t be the champion forever.

Changing character is necessary

Mick Foley is a veteran wrestler who has played many characters over his 30-year career. To stay relevant and fresh, Mick has invented novel situations and storylines for his character over the years.

Watching Foley reinvent himself so frequently was a little baffling to me as a teenager. Looking back now I see that the chameleon act I saw in the wrestling world is replicated in my working life now.

Agencies change proposition to ride current trends and expectations – a few years ago it was all about Social Media, in recent years it has been Big Data.

People also change and pivot with the times: graphic designers turned into UX experts, PR execs transformed into social media specialists and account service suits became digital strategists.

Like wrestling, trying on a different mask helps to ensure you remain fresh, relevant and importantly: stay ahead of the roaring crowd’s expectations.

Overall, entertainment is key

If I had to choose one key thing I learnt from watching wrestling as a kid that has carried over to my professional life, it’s this: entertainment is key.

People pay hundreds of dollars to be cramped in with thousands of other wrestling fans, in awe of the showmanship, pyrotechnics, grand entrances and highflying top rope moves.

Like wrestling, our clients expect a certain level of entertainment from the agency/client relationship. Chances are, the monthly meeting with ‘the agency’ is one of the best things in the diary that week. Turning up with good results is one thing but making the meeting fun; making the client feel special and leaving them with a sense of awe should be the ultimate aim from all meetings. This doesn’t always happen. Again, just like wrestling – a few bad shows and the people will stop paying to see you. It’s really as simple as that.

My favourite wrestler growing up was a guy called Steve Borden, better known as Sting. 6ft 2inches tall, 250lb – his wrestling debut was the year of my birth. He has held a total of 21 titles over the years. He has re-invented himself several times, playing the hero and villain when required and he always entertained the crowd; entrances from the arena rafters, to taking on entire groups single handedly.

I guess if he wasn’t wrestling, he could very well be leading a marketing agency.


What we’ve been reading | 14th March

Silicon Valley’s youth problem NYTimes
In start-up land, the young barely talk to the old (and vice versa). That makes for a lot of cool apps. But great technology? Not so much | 12 min read

The truth about speed reading Lifehacker
Last week, we showed you Spritz – a new app that promises to help you read novels in minutes. Here’s why it might not work | 8 min read

How to build a digital strategy ready for artificial intelligence | BRW
Digital strategy is still siloed away under ‘marketing’ by most Australian corporates. But only an integrated approach can properly exploit advances like social media monitoring by artificial intelligence | 5 min read

Harvard is looking for a ‘Wikipedian in Residence’ | The Atlantic
The school’s Houghton Library is seeking someone to help make its collections as accessible as possible | 8 min read

My brain has no space for your user interface Josh Timonen
‘I imagine this ‘UI storage’ area of my brain is like the box in my closet containing a nest of computer and cables. It retains most of this UI knowledge—and I can get at it—but I have to detangle it from fifty other UI assumptions I’ve gathered over the years’ | 6 min read

How this startup turned financial advice into an algorithm and made $200M | QZ
Imagine if poring over your finances were as easy as using your favourite app, or smartphone—or any of today’s crisply designed technologies that make life easier, smarter and more efficient | 5 min read

Emotions are viral | QZ
The mood of your Facebook updates is directly influenced by the moods of those in your newsfeed | 5 min read

Japan just realised that it’s now the centre of the bitcoin universe | QZ
Japan has become perhaps the world’s most important locale for bitcoin, the digital currency that was supposed to liberate its users from the tyranny of geography—and its government is playing catch-up | 8 min read

How actors create emotions: A problematic psychology | The Atlantic
Fully inhabiting the mind, mannerisms, and reality of a fictional character can be as alienating as it is rewarding | 8 min read

100 Years of Design | Second Story
Second Story has collaborated with AIGA to create a centennial microsite that celebrates the profound impact design has had on our society over the last century | 10 min experience

Why songs have choruses | The Atlantic
The secret lies in how your brain processes sound: People love repetition | 6 min read

There are 16 leadership skillsBRW
But you only need two or three | 8 min read

Square-shaped is the new T-shaped | Medium
What’s better than knowing a little about a lot and a lot about a little? Knowing a lot about a lot |10 min read

70% of time could be used better | First Round
How the best CEOs get the most out of every day | 10 min read

Officeworks selects DesignworksB&T
STW’s strategic design agency Designworks has been appointed to Officeworks following a competitive pitch | 3min read

AFR journalist Emma Connors joins Ogilvy PR | mUmBRELLA
Ogilvy PR has appointed Australian Financial Review journalist Emma Connors as the Senior Media Strategist for the company’s PR Health and Corporate division. | 10 min read

Designworks buys New Zealand’s The Church | B&T
The Church team will move into the Designworks Wellington campus on March 10, and have already begun collaborating on a number of joint projects and new pitches | 3 min read


What we’ve been reading | Friday 14th February

Crowd funding explained | 3 minutesCheap words | New Yorker

Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books? | 3 min read

Giant fungus towers will be grown in New York City this summer | New Statesman

Not a response to NYC’s overheated property market, but one possible sustainable construction method for the future | 2 min read

In 2043… | SVBTLE

“I work at an accelerator. My boss asked me to predict 2043.” | 5 min read

Technology and wealth inequality | Altman

Technology makes wealth inequality worse by giving people leverage and compounding differences in ability and amount of work | 10 min read

Facebook fraud | Veritasium

A must watch for anyone who’s ever bought Facebook ads | 9 min watch

The  hacker’s guide to getting press | Austen Allred

Learn it. Try it. | 10 min read

The science of humour | New Republic

It takes 36 hours after a tragedy for jokes about it to become funny | 5 min read

Become 5% better Ad Strategist | Medium

Overcoming everyday errors of creative strategy | 5 min read

Flappy Bird is proof that no one knows what the audience wants | Polygon

How did a game with no marketing, no story, no viral hooks, no levels, no candy, no visual sophistication, no cross promotion and no achievements capture the hearts and fingers of millions of gamers? | 5 min read

Why writers are the worst procrastinators | The Atlantic

The psychological origins of waiting (… and waiting, and waiting) to work | 10 min read

Lessons for storytellers | Contagious

TMW’s senior planner Roz Hase discusses redefining the craft of storytelling today | 5 min read

Twilight of the brands | New Yorker

It’s a truism of business-book thinking that a company’s brand is its “most important asset,” more valuable than technology or patents or manufacturing prowess. But brands have never been more fragile | 8 min read

It’s official: Pepsi has just about had it with soda | QZ

For struggling soda companies like PepsiCo, munchies, not fizzies, are the business of the future | 5 min read

Long live the brand | HBR

Brands aren’t dead, but traditional branding tools are dying | 3 min read

From the archives: Parkinson’s Law of Triviality | The Guardian

Why organisations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues | 3 min read

The art of crafting a 15-word strategy statement | HBR

All great business strategies can be summarised in a short headline. Easy to understand and communicate, they convey clarity internally and externally to the customer | 5 min read

Paul Everson moves to JWT Sydney as client services director | Mumbrella

Adding to the agency’s strategic and creative firepower, Everson’s appointment adds another string-to-the-bow of the Sydney leadership team | 2 min read

Boom time for political operatives as limping lefties make way for rampaging right | AdNews

The Abbott government has its sights set on everything from media ownership rules to competition policy. For the peddlers of political influence, it’s snatch and grab time | 1 min read

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival takes us on a sensory journey via Ogilvy Melbourne

“Through the use of artistic and sophisticated imagery, along with cutting edge technology and promotions, (the campaign) hopes to also capture the attention of a whole new audience” | 30 sec watch

Personalised print guides for showing friends around new cities | Springwise

Jauntful is a service that enables friends to create their own personalised, printed and digital travel guides for guests visiting their town | 2 min read

Renault’s off-road concept car launches a drone out of its roof | Wired

The tiny drone can be controlled through either a tablet on the dash or by setting GPS waypoints, alerting the driver of obstacles in the road, beaming pictures back to the car.


Is Facebook still worth it?

The secret is well and truly out. The age of Pay-to-play social is very much upon us. Today’s guest post is by Adam Noakes at Switched on Media.

There’s no need to talk too much on the recent algorithm change by Facebook; a thousand blogs have covered that already. In short, Facebook recently made a significant change to how it determines how many people see content from brand pages. No longer can you rely on the fact that a fair portion of your ‘fans’ will see your content. In fact, brands have seen organic reach drop as low as 0.5% of their total fan base.

Mark Zuckerberg now answers to shareholders and making money sits atop his priority list, somewhere alongside connecting the world and user experience. Make no mistake, Facebook is now a juggernaut corporate entity in every sense. This means that brands are left with a few extra things to consider when thinking about their Facebook marketing efforts.

Pay-to-acquire and pay-to-reach is leaving marketing managers with a bitter taste in their mouths, and some would say rightfully so. Brands have invested significantly in social strategies, community management and acquiring fans through advertising, giveaways, campaigns and competitions. Now they have to invest even more to get their message in front of people.

In terms of audience and engagement from users, Facebook still leads the way by a considerable margin. Here are a few simple tips for maximising your Facebook marketing spend in light of the recent changes to the algorithm.

1. Using your own data will save you money

Time and time again I notice a significantly reduced cost-per-acquisition when uploading a custom data set for targeting purposes. Facebook allows you to upload email addresses from your database into the advertising module, which then locates those people based on the email address matching a registered Facebook account. Serving these users an ad this way is typically far more effective given they already know at least something of your brand.

2. Find look-a-likes based on your data

Once you’ve found users from your database, you can build out a look-a-like pool of similar users – based on demographics and interests, with the goal of attracting people similar to those you already attract – making the barrier to acquisition somewhat lower than that of less specific manual targeting.

2. Go hard or go home

Saying ‘Happy Friday’ and posting a cat meme is all well and good for business-as-usual content, and if your aspirations are to just be one of the pack – but if you want Facebook to work hard for the dollars you’re spending, equal investment in quality content production and planning is needed. Custom and branded images, content pillars and key themes should be developed and revised on a regular ongoing basis

3. Identify what purpose Facebook serves and build around that

Does your page act as an efficient alternative to in-house customer service methods? Did the recent offer you promoted give you a viable alternative to using Groupon or similar? Does the insights gained from interaction and engagement provide your sales team with a new target market to focus on? These are the type of questions you should be considering when figuring out exactly what purpose Facebook serves for your brand.

5. Consider what would happen if you stopped using Facebook

Look at your website analytics to measure Facebook referrals in the past 12-months, apply an attribution model to determine the effect Facebook has on brand term search and direct traffic. Measure your brand sentiment online, and determine the part Facebook plays in that. In most cases, brands taking Facebook seriously will see that it impacts many facets of the branding and marketing mix.

That’s just five essential points to consider right now. In an ever-changing social media landscape, using Facebook and other social channels to promote to consumer and prospects is only going to get more expensive. Making sure every dollar spent is spent with the confidence it’s working hard is essential.

Is Facebook still worth it? It’s only worth the dollars you spend, based on the effort you spend on making sure every dollar counts.


Why brands shouldn’t be storytellers.

by Nextness published April 3, 2013 posted in Insights

By Sam Mackisack and Alex Wood, DT Strategy Team.

This story will not begin, as most do, with a request for your undivided attention.

It will not ask you to remain in the palm of my hand, a willingly captive audience, until a thrilling climax which leaves you in awe of my storytelling abilities, and ready to do my bidding.

The reason it won’t do any of this is because I am not the storyteller.

You are.

Storyteller implies power; the dominant force driving a narrative. Alas, I am not that dominant force. Once upon a time, I was: if you wanted to hear the end of this story, you had to listen patiently as I told it. Now you, the reader of the story, decides where the narrative goes, and how (or even if) it finishes.

Narrative is now on demand.

As Douglass Rushkoff discusses in his new book ‘Present Shock’, we have experienced narrative collapse. I haven’t read this book. Nor will I. I will instead Google the book and read only the information I find most interesting. I may buy the book, perhaps only to display it on my desk at work as a token of my cerebral nature. Mr. Rushkoff may have written this book, but I am still the storyteller.

Consider Game of Thrones. On the surface, a piece of classic storytelling. But we don’t navigate the Game of Thrones world as if it were a story we were being passively told. We are in full control of how the narrative is exposed to us.

I may watch half an episode, the highlights clip, or a whole season in one sitting. Meanwhile, with a second screen, I’m navigating my own Game of Thrones story. I’m watching the Sean Bean death reel on YouTube. I’m posting it to Facebook.. Now I’m trolling the comments section with questions about how to pronounce his name.  I’m reading a chapter from the eBook. Now I’m Googling where to skip to in the episode for the ‘juicy’ bits.

Basically, I’m diverging and chattering away through the whole story… instead of sitting patiently, and quietly listening. And when the story finishes, production ceases, and George R. R. Martin puts down his pen, it’s still not over.

Because I read Game of Thrones fan fiction.

The stories that most engage us now, no longer have a beginning, a middle or an end. And if they do, these are incidental to the true emotional value we get from them.

So as a brand, you shouldn’t be telling a story. Here are five things you should be doing instead:

  • Give up trying to control your audience. You are not telling the story.
  • Collapse your narrative. Forget about beginning, middle and end. It begins where they choose. The middle is infinite. And the Internet has no dead ends.
  • Be a world maker. A world is an environment with structure and rules, but ultimately offers the freedom to act within them. Think World of Warcraft, Facebook, Game of Thrones. You don’t own or control this world. Access is the new ownership; whoever is engaging with your world, owns it.
  • Know your context. Your world is not the only one they are engaging with. They are combining yours with everything else they can consume, hence one of the most immediate forms of meme: the pop culture mash up. It might not always be with things you expect – it could be anything you share the zeitgeist with.
  • Feed your fragments. Fragments are all the pieces of your world, strewn throughout the cloud. They could be products, paid advocates, users, mentions, both brand and user generated content. Any of these can act as “rabbit holes” (entries into the world), “mushrooms” (invigorating content consumed along the way) or “golden apples” (rewards for participation). Any fragment should be all three of these things. The more fragments storytellers touch, the deeper their story runs.

And if you’re an agency: don’t present to clients in story form. Let your audience control the journey – they’re used to it.

This post by DT strategists Sam Mackisack and Alex Wood first appeared on DT’s excellent blog.