Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Bill Harvey newsletter is back

Many of you will remember and may have subscribed to the newsletter I wrote from 1979 to 2000, which predicted many of today’s media/technology trends:  reality TV, audiences creating media, the proliferation of interactive screens, addressable commercials (1979), passive portable peoplemeters (1979), the privacy principles of full disclosure/consumer choice/anonymity before they became the ANA/AAAA/ARF CASIE Principles, forecast (1980) the 30-point share drop (90 to 60) for the big 3 networks 1980-1990, and coined the terms clickstream and clickthrough.

For the first few years the newsletter came out twice a month and was called MEDIA SCIENCE NEWSLETTER. J. Walter Thompson was the first subscriber. During that period we made some of our riskiest projections, including penetration levels for basic and pay cable and every other form of the New Electronic Media. Then Viacom chief Jewels Haimovitz reminded me years later how accurate those projections turned out to be. The press referred to me as a media futurist. The late and beloved reporter Ben Bodec tracked my progress in Media Decisions.

In those early days we were still very turned on by the idea of media optimization. After successfully conducting many optimizations across all media at Interpublic however we gradually became more and more interested in optimizing more than just the eyeball exposure of media. How about optimizing the whole marketing budget? Against Sales, not eyeballs?

I had seen the early marketing mix modeling work Herb Krugman did at Interpublic, and saw that if you could automate that, run it backwards, and quantify the objective function – ROI or Consumer Lifetime Value or stock price or whatever – you could find a way to collect or estimate all the data you needed, and optimize the whole shebang.

At that point in time the name of the newsletter changed to THE MARKETING PULSE. We brought to light important studies by Motivac in France, suggesting that passive peoplemeters were ready for rollout – shortly before Percy rolled them out in the US ahead of Arbitron. We revealed important findings that the press had ignored, such as Leslie Woods and Walter Reichel’s measurement of the effect of Recency on actual sales. We became more interested in sales measurement, consulted for ScanAmerica and analyzed its sales lift findings relative to TV in the pages of the newsletter. We reported that IRI had found incremental TV to be ROI-positive twice as often as incremental promotion – 40% of the time vs. 20%.

Some of you may recall that 30 years ago I founded a nonprofit organization, the Human Effectiveness Institute, with the aim of improving decision making by optimization of thought. THEI put out a book which was rewritten this century as FREEING CREATIVE EFFECTIVENESS.

The book became used as a course text at 35 universities including NYU and UCLA. On behalf of THEI I’ve provided workshops around the book to futurist groups within government and spoken about it at the World Future Society annual conference, on television and radio, on a panel with Bucky Fuller, and at West Point.

The idea of the “book” is that it breaks form with bookness, and by shattering expectations creates a mood conducive to mental optimization. The content is all about mental optimization and the resulting better decisions – decisions that work better in the real world. THEI is the publisher of this blog and therefore the topics of my new newsletter/blog will range far beyond media to include the important questions of the day, all of which rest on a foundational need for better decision making:

  • How does the US regain its competitive lead on the world market?
  • If times ahead will reduce actual spending power for most people, what less obvious changes will result?
  • Is it possible to put back even more meaning into our lives?
  • How do brands actually bond best with consumers?

The newsletter/blog will however stop referring to people as consumers, because that lens is counterproductive to the relationship brands wish to have with people.

Of course the topics you’d expect will always be covered:

  • How will cultural changes change the media and vice versa?
  • Different media create different measurable brain states
  • Programming gaps to be filled
  • Forecasts of changes in the media landscape
  • Nontraditional, experiential, and social marketing – best and worst practices – and what’s to come
  • At the cutting edge of marketing/media research
  • The optimization of effectiveness
  • Recommendations

I hope you’ll tell our mutual friends that the BH newsletter is back, or anyone you think might be interested in reading my “crazy” ideas again.  Thanks!

All the best, Bill