Digital Doughnut – with sprinkles and everything!

Great day today at Digital Doughnut event at the RGS in Kensington.  I missed the start and end due to diary clashes, but managed to see the bulk of it.

The theme was Inspiration: The Life Cycle of Ideas

My highlights from the day are …

Tom Ollerton from We are Social reminds us that in digital we need to start with the social conversation, listen to it; rather than rush off and develop content for the channel which doesn’t hit the spot.  His great examples were work with Evian and Wimbledon Wiggle as well as some Marmite work which by the end of it had created an underground cult.  Not a joke!

Matthew Patten from the Mayor’s Fund for London did a good advert for Roast in Borough Market.  Lovely place!  No, more seriously, he told us with humour and intelligence why we cannot squash ideas.  We need to invest in people who have ideas, and at the moment we’re not.  Banks, government, I hope you’re listening.  If you are reading this, search out the idea for micro charitable donation via transport – A Penny For London.  One thing he’s spot on about too: things are only inspired innovation in hindsight!

Andy Hinder from Steel channeled his inner Steve Jobs and encouraged us all to stay hungry, stay foolish.  (Let me tell you, quite a challenge for a lawyer!).  His analysis of left brain/right brain and how we create was really interesting.  Still much sense in Ogilvy’s cry to have unrestricted thinking.  Listening to Andy, I think we can all get a sense of how advertising is not about selling or buying, but about making something interesting, so that you want to find out more.  He reminds us of the origins of the Think Different campaign: what apple stood/stands for is that people with passion can change the world.  Well, I think we can all do a little bit of that, we don’t have to aim for the moon, just our own personal moon.  What we cannot let happen, according to Andy, is create environments where fear eats creativity.  Quite right: mix it up, get out of silos and do great things.

Ian MacArthur at Once We Were started his talk by telling us he’d fallen under a tube train yesterday and so we were sharing the first day of the rest of his life.  Blimey!  He passionately argued that for principles we should strive to live by: 1.  stay free to define differently, 2. remove the pressure to have ideas and ideas will be everywhere (e.g. the shower, right!) 3. it’s OK to innovate with confidence alone – don’t get caught up in internal politics and company rules and 4. understand and respect everyone’s creativity. Yes to all of those Ian!

Ian’s closing snippet was best: if we each have an apple and give the other that apple, each of us only walks away with one apple.  But if we each have an idea and give that idea to the other, we each walk away with two ideas.  Magic.

Eileen Brown of Amastra kicked ass as usual, opening with a storming assertion that most content is crap.  She might be right!  She skillfully led us through a reflection of the status quote which boils down to this: stop focusing on filling up ‘channels’ with ‘content’ that nobody reads. Instead, aim high, aim for quality, be creative. She encouraged us all to do a Skunkworks project.  I would tend to agree and have a little one brewing myself!  Ultimately, I agree with her view that it’s all about sticking your neck out – just remember to occasionally stick it back in too, I say.

Finally, my other take home was that the people I met all appreciated the value of early engagement of legal advice in the digital space.  Nice!🙂



Social media and the law (and a bit of Leveson, well, needs must …)

I was at Social Media and the Law 2012 today, which was a really great event.

First of all big thank you to Luisa Edwards from Google for managing the day so well – always nicer when a conference chair makes it fun instead of a relentless clock watch!  Also some really great comments about Google’s view of it all.

So, top snippets of the day:

– Madeline Moncrieff of The Guardian told us about Three Little Pigs and the line between editorial and everthing else, with a little bit of astro-turfing and sock-puppeting

– Max Sorensen of Lego told us about use (and abuse!) of Lego figures in social media and how they use trade marks to seek to protect themselves there

– Luc Delaney from Facebook showed us that actually really properly accurate data is a virtous thing – we need not be afraid (I wasn’t but you know, some people are!)

– We had a spirited discussion about the issues present in the current drafting of the Defamation Bill (and many thanks Emma Jelley from Google for putting a real world spin onto this from an intermediary perspective)

– Mark Bearfoot from Coca Cola showed us what a brand can really achieve when it fully embraces social media, including bringing the fans who kick great stuff off in house

– David Evans from the ICO got to rant about cookies for a bit but actually speak about wider issues for a change (much to Dave’s relief, I suspect!)

Given that it’s also L Day, Prof Ian Walden did a really great summary of Leveson’s report/press conference:

– self regulation > policed by Ofcom > with a sharper damages regime > but an uptick for good behaviour

Who needs 2000 pages? 

What’s my take on the day?  I think that we’re really starting to see the benefits of the business of social media, and that’s a good thing.  What we need to be careful of now is that it’s not over regulated and that our creativity isn’t chilled.  Some concerns around Leveson’s exemplary damages suggestion and if they’d play out differently for a blogger than for a journo, but we’ll see.  Genuinely feel like Leveson danced around the Internet.  Shame because I think it’s here to stay.


Google gets spanked for ignoring cookie settings to the tune of 22.5 million dollars. Ouch!

So it’s happened.  Google got spanked to the tune of $22.5 million dollars for monitoring the behaviour of people using Safari browsers notwithstanding browser settings (i.e. user instructions) that did not permit it. 

Think this just matters State side?  Think again.  The cookies stuff which came into force last year (but which people only paid attention to this year because of the ICO’s officially blessed one year enforcement hiatus) prescribes that this sort of stuff isn’t on here too.

Look, data protection, at it’s most basic, is not rocket science: know what you are doing, tell them what you are doing and do what you have told them you are doing.  Simples.

Ultimately data protection is about trust.  If we’re all more transparent, there is more trust, there is more confidence in online business.  That is good for us as human being and the online economy.

So please, for the good of the Interweb, keep away from the funny business!


Facebook first public results – don’t be a Grinch

Late last night – in fact while I was merrily consuming some nice wine in the garden bar at The Sanderson, Facebook’s first set of public results were published.

It’s really not a bad effort despite what many in the press are focussing on.

The high level picture is that revenue is up, hitting 1.18 billion dollars. That is a business success, whichever way you cut it.

 There will be many Facebook ‘Grinches’ that linger on the two key negatives (margin down from 53% to 43% and that costs and expenses up by almost 300%) but their schadenfreude would be entirely misplaced. Margin will for the moment be trickier because there is less space on mobile to view ads.  Costs and expenses are obviously up because of payments arising out of employee share schemes and the IPO.

 I see the results very positively and in the context of the Internet market as a whole.  Everyone is using Facebook, everyone is going mobile in terms of how they connect with their friends and how they consume information and content.  Facebook has become a utility in our daily lives and now it’s really about how Facebook executes on that.

 The results reveal some positive data that Facebook is heading in the right direction, in particular there are impressive statistics on return on investment in advertising, which 49% of audited campaigns returning 5 x spend.  This is impressive. Alongside that Facebook continues to innovate for users, for example, purchasing Instagram, launching Facebook Exchange – all steps towards success and growth.

 So, the upshot of Facebook’s first set of public results is this.  Like!


Freedom to skip ads – could it be a human right?

I love ads, let’s just get this straight right away. I used to think the Apple Think Different ads were my all time classic, but I have to say that the recent Guardian Three Pigs has blown that off the number one slot.

But not all ads are that engaging. And sometimes you are just in a hurry, right …

And skipping ads was the very thing that made me fall in love with the idea of TiVo even before I could have one on this side of the pond. Free will – yay!

But what’s happened to our free will? Seems to me that it’s under threat. I have a Virgin Media TiVo enabled box which I quite like. But the concepet of having the freedom to *skip* ads is not part of my experience. Actually, the irritation of watching them in fast forward is imposed on me. It’s always been a little bit irritating, but I see now that it’s getting a bit more coverage States side. See this article from The Register about the spat between Dish and film/TV industry:

How can we have got to a position where intellectual property and contracts are being used like this? I get the business of revenue generating as much as the next lawyer, but seriously guys, they are my eyeballs and if I want to hop, skip and jump over the ads, just let me.  Shouldn’t my eyeballs have a human being type right to say “no thank you” just like I can opt out of receiving email spam and cookies?

FT Digital Media conference day 2 – we are all in chains

Sorry for the delay in writing this – had an evening event yesterday, so a bit short on time.

Anyway, the themes from day 2 are these:

– Channel 4 has got the bit between its teeth and is really going for the digital/social/content overlap space and will have a new ‘channel’ called 47 (four seven, not forty-seven …) essentially replaying the stuff with the biggest buzz reactively. Superb.

– the idea that TV channels will evaporate is bonkers, but there will clearly be some which are much stronger than others and the others will need to innovate massively to fight for their digital space

– brand owners are understanding how to connect digitally better, not all push, etc

– amazing stats on the Shazzaming of adverts (e.g. ROI on Superbowl stuff). Incredible.

– Disney did a good session, but I thought a little defensive and reticent, given the mood as a whole of the conference. Much dodging on Ultraviolet … come on Mickey, man up!

– Havass guy did a splendid slot on showing how generational interpretation of the media shift we now find outselves in is probably starker than we all thought: millenials do actually believe that business has be good not just talk good

– the scrap for hearts and minds and business models is settling down in music and shifting to ebooks – not a surprise that, I’ve been muttering about that for a while now (cue a nice moment with a physical book handed over in chains to represent how ebooks work)

– just to mutter on about that a bit more: EBOOKS SHOULD BE FREE (AS IN SPEECH, NOT BEER)

– fab snippet from Dreamworks on how you manage and engage with technology and creative talent in the same business: about understanding communication and immediately acting on disfunctionality, but also about creating an envioronment where people feel it’s ok to actually take a big risk

– technology is finally there to enable digital advertising to digital purchasing across devices – finally we are seeing uptick in the impulse buying thing

– mobile advertising is at a tipping point and we are about to see massive growth

– we shouldn’t see ‘social’ as an end in itself, but ask what role it can play in advertising in general

– privacy sneaked out a bit more today, but we are where we are on that: humans understand it better, advertisers understand it better, and even the lawyers are calming down (oh, ever so slightly …)

– the most growing theme though, is the overalay of using technology to collect the money on impulse purchases

Big thank you to FT for a great event and it was nice to meet some like minded people too.

So, until next year, Happy Digital

FT Digital Media Conference – four screens and a Joan Collins

Jimmy Wales, what a legend in his own lunchtime.

To sum up today, in true cryptic style:

– there are four screens now and we need to treat them all the same (but slightly differently)

– data rocks, it’s not the new financial services, it’s the new rock and roll

– privacy matters, but there was no great freaking out (and some quite positive sounds about the Goog’s 60 into 1)

– Megaupload was very naughty indeed

– what the users want, winning on the ease of use, will produce the magic services

– people don’t see a rush to free, but there needs to be a lot more science behind charging (whether that’s premium or micro)

– an underlying tone of worry about being reliant on one platform … you know who

– we haven’t cracked mobile ads yet, but we’re working on it

– quite quiet on open source/creative commons

Over and out!

PS – Joan Collins is a cocktail – tasty and thanks FT Live launch party for those🙂

Let’s go a bit off message and enjoy the powder instead

I have always thought it’s mighty important to be passionate about my work and have a passion that’s outside of my work. So, here’s a video from the great guys at Patagonia that makes me really smile …

Patagonia is a great company and it’s a business founded on doing the right thing. If you’ve not read Yvon’s book called Let My People Go Surfing, click the link, buy it and read it – it is *the* best business book out there, hands down.

Happy watching, happy reading – and happy shredding!

PS – More next week as TED’s just finished this week.