Tag Archives: ROI

The Spirit of America: A Dream

Original post August 14, 2014

I am seemingly on my back looking up. There are people all around me looking down at me. Are they doctors and nurses? Am I on an operating table? Am I all right?

They are talking to each other and I am trying to make out what they are saying. I’m also trying to form a clearer picture.

I can see what looks like clouds in the sky above their heads. Are we outside? Wait — are those clouds — or are they starclouds — clouds of stars in the night?

“The baby’s all right,” I hear a woman’s voice say. Suddenly I can see them — George Washington — Thomas Jefferson — Ben Franklin — Abigail Adams — Abe Lincoln… what is Abe doing there, part of me asks but I am too out of it and don’t understand what the problem is

The Founders — and Abe — looking down at me or at us, the baby they created — seem happy, not concerned, like they are playing a game — perhaps it is like a board game to them, which is why they are looking down as if at a table — perhaps a map is spread upon that table — from their perspective — a map on a board game?

Now they are actors and actresses after a show — talking, joking, softly laughing — still up there and me down here looking up — I see them taking off their makeup — underneath their “real” faces are being revealed. It’s hard for me to see — I see Abe Lincoln taking off his makeup but he doesn’t look that much different underneath, yet I know right away somehow that he is Abraham — the original Abraham.

What is the meaning, I wonder. Now I know I am dreaming — I stretch out my mind in their direction — up — the picture gets more diffuse but I am picking up words, meanings, intentions.

“We thought up checks and balances,” a male voice says, “we were so clever and creative — inspired —”

“It still went to central power, again, every time. It always goes there. It has to go there.”

“Why?”

“Physical superiority. Organized and armed groups will always dominate individuals.”

“Even if the organized and armed groups are us?”

“Yes. Even if they mean well.”

“What happens to individuals then? And the freedom of the individual? Isn’t that the whole point? Are we wasting our time?”

“Might as well. It goes on forever anyway.”

“I see the next move,” Washington says and I can see them again crowding him to see what he is doing on the board. “Let’s see if this does it — early 1990s —”

I get it that he is doing something that will result in a military weapons system being converted into a public utility — apparently intended to change the course of history on the planet — to somehow be an ultimate check and balance to allow the individual to stand up to the whole on an equal footing of respect, dignity, and freedom.

The ancient alarm goes off, taking me out of the dream straight into the usual reaction of seeing how quickly I can make the horrible klaxon stop. I am still half asleep but the dream is gone — I am remembering traces of it, fast fading. A red cardinal is on the railing of the upstairs side deck looking in at me, cocking his head inquisitively. I float downstairs to make coffee and while it is brewing I escape the din of bean grinding and go to my office to check in on my Internet emails.

The Internet. In the early 80s, consulting for the U.S. military on human effectiveness, I was invited to be on the ring, as it was called. The ring was Darpanet, brainchild of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Not so much a weapons system as a military communication, command and control system, although even then the uses for computer warfare were well understood. Darpanet would become the Internet. Tim Berners-Lee (a Brit) would make it the Internet we recognize today by inventing the World Wide Web. In the early 90s at the first meeting of W3C, Tim’s WWW Consortium, I was the one person invited from the ad industry, and promptly soiled the rug with my idea of anonymized privacy-protected ID numbers for each user and device to make targeting and measurement easier for advertisers. By the end of the meeting I was forgiven although it would take years to convince the majority that advertising had a place on the Web. Now Google, Apple, and Microsoft all are working on their own versions of what I proposed that day.

Nor is the Internet yet a public utility. Its status is still unique and not in an existing pigeonhole, hence the concerns over the erosion of net neutrality — in other words, not making equal speed available on the Internet to all users (pending their ability to afford highspeed service). Conferring public utility status officially, even if country by country, would protect net neutrality. Maybe someday someone will write a Bill Of Rights in which Internet access is a natural birthright.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog, In Terms of ROI at Media Village. Here is the link to my latest post.

 

Originally posted 2014-08-14 11:49:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Future Evolution of Marketing/Media Research – Revisited 2017

Original post April 19, 2011

What will happen next in the advertising industry’s important research wing? Where is it all going? What will be the face of advertising/media/BI (Business Intelligence) research/data science?

First, the drivers:

  • Decision makers want speed
  • They want answers to burning questions that specify the recommended decision with compelling rationale – so their job of taking that position and defending it will involve as little personal risk as possible;
  • They want all the variables and types of evidence reduced to utter simplicity – as in a well-designed graphic dashboard;
  • If they have a dashboard, they love to be able to play what-ifs with the recommended solution and see what happens to the graph, so that they truly do have a key role in the decision that gets made;
  • They need to be able to get their heads above all the weeds and up to where they can actually have a master vision – but the weeds are growing like hydra – the weeds being the excess of nearly-relevant information.

In other words, as compared to when I started in the business and we were looking desperately for any scrap of information, and beating the heck out of it in terms of a high bar for validation, today all too often there is much too much information. One can have an assistant compile it all so one can scan it but that’s about it. No way to actually absorb the ever-growing heap.

This new reality engenders a new way of functioning that is always high risk (as evidenced by CMOs being replaced every 23 months on average) and in which one has to operate like the Hollywood gunslingers – on gut intuition. Or as in the Hollywood story, where Columbia Pictures co-founder and head Harry Cohn could read the quality of a film based on watching butts twitch in seats.

So in other capitals across the country and around the world we have all joined that methodology, except we compile even more quantitative information as back up and proof of whatever it is our butts twitch to.

So the drivers have led so far to a relatively undesirable condition of rationalized guesswork. The researcher tries to work within this environment and tries to uplift it. Given relative rank in organizations, the researcher usually fails in this nowadays (if absolute success is the bar) except it is relatively better than if the researcher was not pushing that envelope.

The job going forward is to achieve absolute success by overturning the current rationalized guesswork mode and bringing in scientific decision making. What we already pretend to be doing.

Next, the needs:

  • Creative people need the kind of information conducive to generating Big Ideas;
  • Creative pre-tests need to be fast, highly predictive of actual cash register ROI, diagnostically rich and appropriate to being able to make quick fixes that will drive up ROI;
  • On-air cash register measurements of Creative, without use of black box attribution methods, used to reallocate so as to run the most sales-effective Creative executions most if not all of the time;
  • Programming content needs the exact same kinds of pre-testing, except instead of brand advertiser ROI, the success metric is audience size weighted by the marketable CPM – once again devolving to a financial ROI equation;
  • Media (including in-store, CRM, place-based, social, and everything else) need to be measured in terms of how well they reach types of purchasers (heavy, disloyal, etc.) and how well they influence purchase behavior (this is even more important than measuring their reach overlaps since each one has to be bought separately);
  • Crossmedia reach overlaps and synergies need to be measured and validated, their changes tracked, and these information types baked in with all the other information so as to give the decision maker a simple integrated dashboard where real (empirical) unmodeled validated information has ultimate weight. And the modeling (marketing mix and all other forms) needed to fuse together everything for the decision maker is as validated and transparent (not black box) as possible, with so as to give modelling almost no weight in terms of which media vehicles to buy – whereas crossmedia overlaps and dollar ROI synergies are the most important factors in making the big planning allocations to media types. This unavoidable leaning of our weight on the modeling crutch is a soft spot to be studied and overcome;
  • All data and data fusion methods need to be validated against actual cash register ROI;
  • Data (and proposed decision) delivery from research to the line must be in the form of utter simplicity via dashboard where exec can play what-ifs and see how ROI forecast changes.

Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? That was a joke of course.

Finally, the prognostications:

I hate to disappoint, but these really are more like prescriptions. The industry has taken some of my prescriptions in the past, but mixed with a heavy dose of countervailing competitive marketplace forces, which tends to change the outcome a bit away from the admittedly utopian picture I had painted of what could be done. So how can I accurately prognosticate what really will happen?

Here’s instead what I think should happen.

Creatives

Researchers need to do a much better job stoking the fires of the big minds to produce Big Ideas. The advertising business is about producing Big Ideas for money. The rest is just implementation.

By the Creatives I don’t just mean writers and art directors. Everyone is a Creative, to the extent that they are allowed to come up with and share Big Ideas. In some organizations, people are disempowered by not having their Big Ideas taken seriously – but these organizations are becoming more and more rare. Thank God.

Research presentation to Creatives – the people who need to make big planning decisions – has been, well, wanting – that’s probably the kindest word I can use.

People who make planning level decisions need all the information they can get about the people at the other end of the communications process whom we are trying to influence. Right now they do get quite a bit. It does generate more insight than probably at any time in the past, including the phase of Motivational research. But it’s not yet enough, and it’s not absorbable and stimulating enough to the writers and art directors.

Instead of dashboards for the writers and artists, something like a ripomatic is used nowadays – both in selling new business and in pumping the Creative people. A ripomatic (or feelomatic, etc.) is a succession of clips – mostly video, a few still, with music – that tell the Creative about the target audience. One thing that could be added is the ability to drill down on one image or idea and get more information in the same emotive form on that facet of the picture – as in some of the early branching video CD-ROMs that IBM, BBC, British Telecom and others produced to show where video could go someday. There might be a dial where the Creative can slow down or speed up the images. And touchscreen or voice command to indicate what to drill down on.

Neuroscience should be able to show a picture of the target audience that is even more conducive to Big Ideas. Findings from neuroscience could be presented in the same video format to inspire the Creative – all findings can be pumped in through the Creative form of the same dashboard idea. Just to have a name I call it the Clashboard – the dashboard for Creative, which is branching video rather than Flash pages that remain static until one plays what-ifs.

The underlying historical reason for both the dashboard and the Clashboard is information overload. People in the advertising industry are no exception – we get even more information than the average person, and the average person is deluged. My book Freeing Creative Effectiveness is all about breaking out of EOP (Emergency Oversimplfication Procedure), the condition that sets in when there is too much information – desperate shortcutting such as rationalized guesswork.

By focusing the eyes on a dashboard or Clashboard that is comprehensive and yet utterly simple, the mind can also begin to focus. All the information is in one place. No distraction thinking of where can I get this piece of missing information – it is all there.

My best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at Media Village, Myers new site. Here is the link to my latest post.

What Is America’s True Mission?

Originally posted October 20, 2015

What is it that we are striving to achieve as a nation, our Purpose on Earth?

What is our nation's mission on Earth?

What did Tom Paine expect of us, or George Washington?

If we do not know our purpose then no matter what good we may achieve on the face of the Earth, we will be rudderless inside. We won’t know where we’re going or how we want to get there or who can best lead us there. We will be guided by the plan du jour. Any good we do will be random, grasping at straws of tactical opportunity to head toward the seeming good at that moment without a clear picture of the totality of our decisions. We have seen throughout history that who or what at first seems good turns out to be not as good as we thought.

If we lose sight of our purpose, the nation will be contributing little to the spiritual nourishment of its citizens. Yes, spiritual. The words that led to our nation’s birth are spiritual words: Liberty, Equality, Justice. These words, chosen by our Founders, refer to and evoke states of spiritual sensitivity in which we are swept up into something larger than our personal self, open to the duty we owe others and the Universe or God, whatever we conceive Him or Her to be. Many of us envy these ideals but consider them pragmatically irrelevant in our actual moment-to-moment Acceleritis™-driven lives.

The ideals of Liberty, Equality and Justice must be nurtured as part of our heritage if we are to remain a nation focused on such high ideals. It behooves us in this and any other election cycle to support those who will fight to keep these ideals at the forefront of their decision making.

If we want to continue to be that inspired nation, then it is time to tap into the tide of positive emotion that can energize creative thought and enable right action together.

So let’s consider again — what is our true mission as a nation?

Mainstream thinking seems best summed up by Bret Stephens in a 2014 Wall Street Journal essay, “If the world’s leading liberal-democratic nation doesn’t assume its role as world policeman, the world’s rogues will try to fill the breach, often in league with one another.”

The US has long accepted the mantle of the world’s policeman — protecting the weak from aggressors. What if that isn’t the main point of our existence?

We have the opportunity now (as always) to choose our own destiny. Let’s as a nation agree on what it is. And let’s start the dialogue, here and now.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at Media Village, Myers new site. Here is the link to my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-10-20 11:31:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

How a Subtle Shift Can Be Useful

Originally posted May 5, 2015latest Great Being post

The peachy-purple-gold sunset reflects with pink iridescence on the wet sand where the sea recedes from its last sally onto the beach. Soundlessly a squadron of hunting pelicans glides past my writing hand. These two-day escapes to the seashore reinvigorate my excitement at life.

beautiful sunset on the beach

Simply clearing the decks of our mind and its latest obsessions, stepping back as the Observer and seeing the richness there is to be observed around us, we can attain peace anywhere.

When I was very young, somehow I became inspired by the notion that a slight shift in the way I look at things could have enormous effect. Now decades later, the number of times I have applied this principle must be in the millions, firmly installing it in my neurons, making it second nature for me to shift my point of view.

What I’ve learned

The thinking part of the mind and the feeling part both represent potential obstacles of different kinds.

The feelings do not want nor seek solutions. Specialized in expressing themselves, the feelings therefore wish to simply find more and better, increasingly dramatic, ways of expressing whatever they are feeling at the moment, kind of an inertial momentum (i.e. an object in motion tends to remain in motion kind of thing).

Reasoning with the feelings, using thinking to change unwanted feelings, is not inherently a strong strategy. Telling oneself to feel joy, and that happiness is a choice, so go ahead and make that choice, be strong, be positive — this sometimes worked for me, because I liked the idea of being indomitable and of not allowing anything to have power over me or my mood. At other times some part of me is clearly relishing wallowing in sulking, rage, guilt, anxiety, or whatever, as if a part of me is coming from a separate reality and visiting here on a trip specifically for the experience of such an operatic-size dramatic expression of emotion.

The strategy that works best for me is more intuitive, neither straight thinking nor straight feeling. It is through the intuition that we can make a creative and altogether indiscernible slight shift in the way we look at things, which will both fill us with the happy anticipation of effecting positive change, and enlighten us with light cast in from a new angle to reveal amazing insights.

Engaging the intuition this way has first a positive impact on hope and secondly a positive impact on curiosity. I find myself looking around in my mind for the perspective that will create the shift. I start from the assumption that my thinking mind accepts: there will always be an angle on the situation that will bring relief. So far, that prediction has always come true.

Finding that mental switch inside that leads to this subtle shift in feelings may not be so easy the first time you try it. Keep practicing.

Wishing you all a strong and agile new mind muscle, giving you the ability to seek and grasp the hidden gearshift to indomitable happiness.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers called “In Terms of ROI“. Here is my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-05-05 07:50:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Do what you’re moved to do.

Originally posted April 28, 2015latest Great Being post

One of the challenges of our current reality is the pervasive condition we call Acceleritis™ wherein we feel we never have enough time to do all the things we feel we ought to do.

Don't overthink it.

Do you feel like you are always behind and have too much to do? Do you speed up your actions to the point of increasing errors that require fixing (which then slows you down and makes you feel even more behind with no apparent hope of ever catching up)?

You are not alone! We have a natural drive for closure, and the seeming impossibility of ever reaching closure on everything the mind desires closure on makes us uneasy at most times — but we have gotten used to that feeling.

During your work day or at play, are you often not sure what to do next? Try to not overthink it…

Do what most inspires you at that moment. Why? Because the chances are higher that you’ll be doing it in the Flow state, which never occurs when you are doing something because you should do it. I call that “doing it to get it out of the way”. Flow state only occurs when you are enjoying what you are doing, and doing it solely or mainly for its enjoyment.

If you’re in the grip of Acceleritis and therefore not in the Observer state, you may not know what inspires you more, X or Y or Z. The solution here is to just let your body go and watch what it does. The body often makes decisions before the mind is consciously aware of making the decision.

Don’t be driven by email/text/social media.

It has become all too easy to become driven by incoming email, texts, Tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts — meaning you don’t decide what to do next, you react to the ubiquitous digital input stream. This goes on all day and you become a willing slave to others’ priorities rather than your own. Instead, practice setting aside a time each day to deal with and catch up with emails and texts and whatever else is queuing up. This puts you in charge of what you do for the better part of your day.

Create a practice to step away from the to-do list.

What works best for me is meditation — where the mind observes itself, watching thoughts as they come and go. I find this is the most effective way to allow assimilation and closure of the most salient “anti-closures” bugging my mind subconsciously at any given point in time.

Like trying to remember a name, meditation does not work by “trying to do it”, it works by letting go of everything going on inside, and continuing to let go of thoughts/feelings/ images/hunches as they arise, watching them float away (or whatever imagery works best for you). From this effortless place comes clarity that often moves you closer to closure.

Next time you are overwhelmed, step back, and do what you are moved to do!

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers called “In Terms of ROI“. Here is my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-04-28 11:53:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

How Did We Become So Distracted?

Originally posted March 10, 2015latest Great Being post

We live at a discontinuous point in history.

Most of us know that the human race started evolving from primates, coming down out of trees over 1,000,000 years ago, but it’s only been the last 200,000 years that we’ve been homo sapiens.

We’ve written things down for only 6,000 years out of those million years so we have no written record of what went on before those roughly 6,000 years.

Key Survival Characteristic

My hypothesis as a social scientist is that in the last 6,000 years, written language changed the way we use our minds.

It actually started with the cave paintings, some 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, using symbolism — we started to be able to look at abstract symbols to represent things like animals that we were going to be hunting.

When we moved to written language, we could see the language — the granular bits of information. Pictures don’t have chunks to them like words do.

Though nowhere near digital yet, we started to get into granular chunk thinking as soon as we got into written language.

This development marked the beginning of a revolution in the way we use our minds, and this has been accelerating for the last 6,000 years.

We started inventing things — first tools, then weapons and then media — and all of those things have contributed to the fact that we now every day are subjected to a deluge of stimuli that exceeds our ability to answer all the questions arising in our mind second-to-second.

We get into a habit of just sweeping things aside. “I’m never gonna answer all this stuff. I won’t try to answer all this stuff. I won’t even try to answer the basic question of what is life, what is the meaning of all this, what is my purpose? It’s just too many questions. I can’t answer them.” I call this condition Acceleritis™.

We see things like increasing ADD and ADHD and we see people who are supposed to be running big countries acting like high-school kids and not getting anything done.

This deluge of stimuli all the time is not good for any of us. In the face of the hugely distracting environment of Acceleritis, we are being distracted from Flow state, which I believe is our natural state and which occurred a lot more before 6,000 years ago.

This is why I consider psychotechnology, which prepares people with techniques to stay focused through complexity, to be so important. No matter who we are, the quality of our life depends upon our effectiveness in meeting challenges, whether as a parent, an executive, an athlete or a world leader.

Shutting out distractions

Most all of the techniques I use to increase focus and creativity are included in my book, Mind Magic, and I also share them here in this blog space — techniques like mindfulness, meditation, self-awareness and letting go of attachment. Learning to become the observer more often and not getting caught up or reeled in by all of these distractions, we can find greater clarity and reach Flow state more often. Learning to stay focused in an ever increasingly distracting world, we can ultimately increase our creativity and improve our decision making.

Best to all,

Bill

I will be presenting at the ARF’s Audience Measurement 2016 conference in New York three times on Monday and Tuesday, June 13 and 14. On Monday the 13th first at 8AM, Dave Morgan CEO of Simulmedia and I will be showing how much improvement in purchaser reach can be generated in a television campaign using data science and set top box data. Later the same day at 11:20AM, I’ll be sharing secrets of building ROI optimization into crossmedia and creative planning. Then on Tuesday the 14th at Noon, James Fennessy CEO of SMI and I will be revealing the actual media spending shifts taking place and what they are doing to ROI. More information.

Follow my regular blog contribution at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers called “In Terms of ROI“. Here is my latest post.  

Originally posted 2015-03-10 12:24:38. Republished by Blog Post Promoter