Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thank You So Much

Volume 4, Issue 23

Purple spiral fractal

Once, in a faraway, fertile and pleasant land, there lived a king who loved his children. He had a great many wives and so he had an even greater profusion of children. He loved them so much of course he spoiled every one, remembering them by name and knowing each as an individual. Each child grew up with the expectation of getting whatever they want, which caused them some disappointments as there are some things money can’t buy. But for the most part the kingdom was happy until Po came along.

Po’s mother was the king’s favorite and unfortunately, she died in childbirth. The king was disconsolate for a long time but never took it out on the boy. In fact, he lavished more upon Po than any child had ever gotten. Po was a beautiful and brave boy and devoted to his father. The king gave him whatever he wanted.

The problem was that Po quickly tired of each new thing and then wanted something else. Po began to wear a frown or bitter expression a lot of the time because he was bored, and disappointed that each new thing seemed like the whole world until he got it, at which point his attitude seemed to be saying, is that all there is to it?

The king was hurt by this because his world seemed to have shrunken down to a tunnel of making Po happy, as if that could let his lost wife know how much he would always love her. Now the kingdom was threatened not so much by a little boy who seemed never happy, but worse, by a king who never seemed happy any more either.

When Po was 12 he was already living in his own palace of his own design, with many sport chariots pulled by the most expensive imported horses. The king allowed him and his friends to carouse and eat opium and do whatever they wanted, which often inflicted accidental injury on innocent bystanders who could not complain without fear of death, as no one knew how far the king would go in his monomania for making Po lastingly happy, kings being kings.

When the king asked him what he wanted for his 13th birthday, which held kind of a special significance, Po declared that he wanted his own harem. The king was shocked but before he could recover, Po announced a second desire, that he would not marry the harem. This blew the king away entirely as kings always married their harem — it was tradition going back as far as time.

Nevertheless, the king once again did not hesitate to give Po whatever he wanted, and so Po got his harem. At least the land was civilized enough so that no one was forced into the harem, and Po had the innate decency to invite and not compel membership. Given that he would one day be king — this much was obvious — and he was handsome in a kind of sad way, there were many more applicants than Po accepted. In fact, news travelled and soon caravans of eager candidates were brought from faraway lands in all directions. And for a while, this new diversion seemed to do the trick, as there were new girls (sometimes grownup women) let into the harem every week, and newness was the only thing that had ever kept a smile on Po’s face.

But eventually, even this faded and Po reverted to his lifelong state of disappointment, unable to enjoy or even see the beauty around him. He treated his harem with indifference and hurt their feelings. The land resonated with unhappiness, it trickled down. One day the king realized how far he had let this go and was suddenly appalled. He had to do something different. His favorite wife’s son was having a bad life, the very last thing in the world he wanted to happen. It was up to him to find the solution.

One day, Po was kidnapped by a group of masked riders wearing clothing nobody had ever seen before. Armies were sent out looking for a very long time but he was never found. Po couldn’t believe what was happening. He was brave and fought but was outnumbered. He was treated roughly but never seriously hurt. That was because these were the most trusted of the king’s spies, brought back from foreign service on the most important mission of their lives.

Po’s existence was miserable. He missed good food, his harem, his father and friends, who now all seemed dearer to him than ever before. He missed having fun. He was imprisoned in a harsh dungeon and visited with indignities best left to the imagination. This life was truly horrible — he could not believe it was possible for this to be happening to him. He planned escape, revenge, and dreamed of return to his normal life. Oh, if he could only have his normal life back!

One day there was an attack and although Po could not see the action he knew there was fighting going on from the screams and crashing sounds. He thought he smelled fire and suddenly pictured himself burned alive. His mind nearly cracked.

But he was somehow rescued and saw that it was someone he knew, a member of the king’s guard, and then he saw dozens of guardsmen he knew, and realized that he was saved. Po hugged each of his rescuers and sincerely thanked them in a way that amazed the soldiers. Po had never been seen acting that way in his entire life.

When Po saw the King, disheveled from the fight (it was all an act of course), Po ran to him and hugged him in a way that he hadn’t in years. Tears flooded out of their eyes as they came together, really seeing each other as if for the first time.

Po was rarely unhappy again. His wives knew they were individually treasured when he offered to marry all of them in one big ceremony. People came from adjoining kingdoms and it was the biggest wedding in the world.

As he settled into his old/new life, Po was often seen simply walking or sitting in his garden, or out in the woods, as if in heaven with the flowers and birds and ground animals. Then one day he expressed an earnest desire to learn from his father how to be a good king. The king was grateful to God for such a request, and of course he granted it. Everyone in the land was grateful to God that the land was again a happy one, each subject appreciating whatever he or she had, and aspiring to work hard enough and be good enough to perhaps be even happier — but that is another story.

Po is you and I. The king is the Universe. When you or I are not able to enjoy what we have because of some backfired trick of the mind, the Universe does what it has to do to make us able to appreciate again.

A word to the wise: continually cultivating a grateful attitude for what you have will eliminate the need for the Universe to provide even more painful lessons.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: "In Terms of ROI.It is in the free section of the website at Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

You Are The Universe: Imagine That is now available. Read an excerpt and watch my videos where I talk about the book.

The Spirit of Friendship

Volume 4, Issue 19

And the Future of Facebook

It started as a way for male college students to see the faces of the coeds so as to choose which ones to ask out on dates. Today it is as big as television in the lives of many people.

In my newsletter of things to come, when I was making my wild-eyed media predictions a long time ago (which all came true in one way or another), I thought Facebook would come through webcams first, and of course I never used the term Facebook. I saw it as “each person having their own television station” and cross-device promotion expert Richard Fusco despite his fondness for radio saw it that way too. That was the closest my mind could get to a picture of the interactivity and democratization I knew would be coming. Of course, my mind was constrained by the things I knew best, such as television.

When Facebook came out as a stock for public investment, the results were disappointing because despite enormous audience usage there was no credible revenue model. The early Internet pioneers were mostly anti-advertising and/or had ridiculously high estimates of what advertisers would pay. Google was determined never to allow advertising. They were all smart enough to pivot and learn the advertising ground rules fast once the handwriting was on the wall.

Back in the post-IPO early days I suggested to a friend highly placed at Facebook that Facebook advertising should not be advertising at all, but branded content. Brands would insert content that fit within Facebook’s mood, not selling their product but sponsoring entertainment and/or informative/useful content that users would like and be grateful for, translating to sales and loyalty for the brand. I showed my friend the 28 studies I had done proving this point. He said it was interesting but they already had a full plate of ideas they were testing.

Stan Silverman, one of the most effective direct marketers today, pointed out around the same time that regular ads would not be as effective in Facebook, since when people used Facebook it was not for shopping or thinking about products, but instead feeling good in the warmth of communicating with friends or just seeing what they were up to lately. Nonetheless “regular ads” is what transpired in Facebook.

Something else is happening to Facebook today. The way content is organized is changing. Facebook must by now realize that users are not at all happy about this. Posts from friends they were particularly following no longer appeared on their main page (Home or News Feed) but had to be found on a new page that had to be stumbled upon. This content feed (called Pages Feed) appears to be where the algorithms put content that has some soft-sell advertising-like purpose but is not paying Facebook anything for ads. One can imagine the meeting at Facebook in which it was decided to dis-incentivize these “freeloaders” and force them into paying for ads by shoving them in the back of the Facebook so to speak.

At that meeting someone might have warned that users don’t like changes unless they themselves have asked for them. Jonathan Steuer, whose renaissance mind springs instantly to the bottom line, reminds us that Microsoft has made much-despised changes at the pleasure of its software developers without considering the inconvenience to users of such changes. Jonathan has been loyal to Apple since the beginning and across all devices the Apple interface has been steady as a rock.

It remains to be seen whether Facebook will make a success of its current ad policy or evolve a new one. If it can show ROI of course the game is won Business-to-Business (BTB), although fans might not like the ad-driven changes. A true win/win would be to maintain the mood and spirit of the original Facebook, return quickly to the beloved format before too much time passes, show the world that this is a company whose leaders can admit mistakes because they are real people like the rest of us. That’s the spirit of the place. It’s a great spirit — the spirit of friendship. It could be a wonderful — even the premier — environment for brands bonding with consumers.

And it could lead the way into a future where advertising is more a matter of friendly brand content than the bombarding remnants of operant conditioning theory. I hope this prediction comes true.

Best to all,

Bill 

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: "In Terms of ROI." It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

You Are The Universe: Imagine That is now available. Read an excerpt and watch my videos where I talk about the book.

Come Out and Play

Volume 4, Issue 18

Being and Becoming

After all the rains, nature is happy that the sun has come up brightly. The talkative birds fill the ears as one awakens. Sunlight glinting off the river helps keep the eyes closed. The birds, squirrels and chipmunks gather outside waiting for Lalita to come out of the side deck door with food. Then when all humans are safely locked back in the house they waste no time in racing each other for the pans of seed. The first to get to the hanging birdfeeder is a large woodpecker who has learned how to arrange his body so that he can get the seed inside the tiny holes designed for much smaller birds.

Soon a squirrel is at a pan, darting occasionally at the five swirling jumping chipmunks intoxicated with the morning and trying to get a bite in edgewise. Finally one of the chipmunks steps out of character and, perhaps accidentally, bounds onto the squirrel and away again. The squirrel seems to need to think about this and retreats for his tree home to contemplate the unusual event.

All this fun stuff going on yet I realize I have woken up fixated once again on all the things I have to get done. The thing about knowing one’s Mission is that it’s great but it soon becomes an attachment like anything else. This is true even if the Mission is well-intended and unselfish. If looked at as an enormous challenge slope that one will not be happy leaving unfinished at the end of one’s life, it is obviously as much of an addiction as heroin.

Priorities. Our first priority in being here as the Universe looking through yet another unique peephole perspective, is to enjoy it. Let’s call that BEING.

Hourglass Nebula
Hourglass Nebula courtesy of www.NASA.gov

Second priority is to learn and evolve to higher levels of consciousness and states of being by watching the Universe’s clues. Let’s call that BECOMING.

Where in that construct does Mission fit? The Mission is to do one’s passion work, which is the chariot you ride in the BECOMING part of existence.

I realized that I was sacrificing the BEING part to the BECOMING part by my attitude of “no time for fun, better get down to work”.

Realizing all this did not automatically set me right again. What did was a sudden tiny delighted voice I heard that sounded like a woodland fairy spirit might, saying “Come and play with me!”

That brought my mood around. Then my eye was suddenly drawn to the little black wrought iron café table and chairs on the upper side deck, sparkling in a spotlight of sunlight through the trees. I went up with my laptop to sit in that pool of light and write this post.

As I went up the stairs, laptop in hand, I was in the mood to play. Writing this, I’m just enjoying myself. I hope you are too.

Best to all,

Bill 

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: "In Terms of ROI." It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

P.S. My wife Lalita and I will be attending "Footsteps of Mandela," an original musical production celebrating world peace, freedom and human dignity. We will be accompanied by our good friend Stan Satlin, the songwriter of several inspiring songs about the spirit of America that will be performed there. Footsteps of Mandela will be performed at Riverside Church in New York City on July 18 at 7 PM to benefit the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Footsteps of Mandela

Which Motivators Drive Our Most Frequent Choices?

Volume 4, Issue 16
June 26, 2014

Lessons from my day job

One of the benefits of my day job as a media researcher is that I gain valuable insight into what sorts of things I should create in the future to carry the messages of the Institute to as many people as are ready for it. My day job also enables me to do my ultimate passion work, which is to improve human effectiveness and thus happiness and/or fulfillment for the greatest number of people. The following post illustrates the synergy between my day job and my ultimate passion work.

The year: 1997. My company Next Century Media is working with John Hendrick’s innovative Discovery network and John Malone’s dominant cable operator TCI, installing addressable optimizer Opti*Mark into the National Digital Tech Center (NDTC) in Denver, for inclusion in the uplinking of dozens of TV networks to cable systems. This will make all the cable commercials potentially addressable to the set-top box (STB), will measure the STB, and offer program recommendations to subscribers on command.

The reasoning behind the program recommender is both to increase natural delight and also to give subscribers a cogent reason to feel better about their behaviors being tracked, albeit anonymously.

A technology favored at that time for recommendation engines — and still used today — is the collaborative filtering technique (CFT). It’s not the Netflix method of slicing down programs/movies into 78,000 tiny sliver genres, like Humphrey Bogart WWII movies of the 40s, and then counting the incidence of these subgenre choices within each subscriber’s individual record to make recommendations of other properties in the subgenre cluster that have not been watched yet through Netflix. CFT is the familiar “people who have bought this book also bought this other book”. NCM did not want to use CFT although it was ready to go off the shelf and cheap, not to mention accepted.

NCM wanted a method that would yield insight about people’s preferences, not just the facts of their observed choices.

Also, CFT takes a while to build a database and cannot give recommendations for a new show until there is some history of who watched it and who didn’t. With the importance of new shows to TV ad planners and programmers there was no way to live with CFT’s delay. So NCM created a keyword-driven system (today like so many other things called Bayesian). We compiled 1500 or so different words that are used to describe TV programs, ads and movies — screen content. Some of this came from work I had done consulting for the launches of cable networks, some had been from movie work I did with studios, and some was the result of many researchers pooling their knowledge.

One day the late Gerry Despain, who led the dozen software developers working on this, came to me and said he wanted to drop over 1200 of the keywords. I was aghast because test viewers were thanking us more than 9 to 1 in favor of the recommendations the system was producing. He said, “You don’t understand. I just want to drop the ones that do not predict set-top box data.” I saw that he was right and approved the efficiency move.

Later it gradually dawned on me the utter enormity of what had just transpired. We had stumbled on 250-300 words that DO predict the choices people make as to what to watch and what not to watch. Nowadays, in finally having the time to continue that line of development, we are calling those golden terms DrivertagsTM (DtagsTM for short) because the modern screenworld name for such descriptors is “metatags” — and because these 250-300 metatags are the first we know of that actually do appear to describe inner motivational states that predict real world behavior. Specifically, what we choose to watch on screens.

This would be merely a very important discovery in one group of businesses in the private sector. However, if we zoom out, we see that today’s civilization on Earth is in the process of becoming totally dominated by screen content. This is the latest evolution of the information acceleration process we call Acceleritis™, which my theory attributes to the advent of written language.

The primary devices with screens on which there is content, used by most of us in civilization today, are the computer, TV set, tablet, and mobile phone. People with enough money (or enough credit) are making sure they have at least one of each. Monied households with large families are accumulating screens perhaps faster than anyone in the household can count or cares to. Moreover, by any researcher’s count, the average person now spends more than half their waking hours with eyes on these screens.

The Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI) will be working with ScreenSavants, the private sector startup licensing NCM’s IP in this area, to make applications of learning to our Mission of increasing human effectiveness. We’ll be studying how specific DTags identify viewers more prone to Observer state or Flow state. We’ll be networking with interested academics including people who are working in nearby inquiries such as explaining the attraction of viewers to specific characters, deriving psychological insight from natural language utterances, linking screen content to higher values, semantic mapping, and all forms of related psycholinguistics. One reason for doing this is simply to understand — pure science. The other is for practical application to the mission of THEI, improving human effectiveness. We’ll report our progress here.

For a first example, consider the following graph. What does it mean?
graph on DriverTags

The easiest way to explain a graph is to explain what one datapoint means. In the upper left you’ll see “Situation #2”. That is a particular DTag — and 9 out of 10 top-rated situation comedies have that DTag. None of the cancelled sitcoms have that DTag. Now look at the lower left and you’ll see “Value #50” — 8 out of 10 cancelled sitcoms have that DTag, but only 1 of the top 10 rated sitcoms has it.

If I were investing $2.5 million per average new TV series pilot I would love to know which DTags are vital to success and which drive failure. That is the business reason for all this.

For psychology, given that the biggest use of time in our civilization is screen usage, discovering the motivators of this preponderant activity yields considerable new insight into what motivates people in our culture today. That’s the science reason for it.

The attachment of DTags to TV shows happened long before the analysis of ratings and cancellations. The same DTags that worked in 1997 are still working in 2014. On the inside we haven’t changed so much.

This is the kind of science I personally get to do that is part of my passion work. I’m a very lucky guy.

The gratitude attitude and admission that the Universe may indeed be sentient are the causes I attribute to such great luck. Hope you are very lucky too!

All my best,

Bill

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: “In Terms of ROI.” It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

My new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That is now available. Read an excerpt and watch my videos where I talk about the book.

Latest Lessons from Erwin Ephron

Volume 4, Issue 15

This last Monday I was presented with the Erwin Ephron Demystification Award by the Advertising Research Foundation. Naturally, I was tipped off in advance, and had organized my thoughts about what I would say.

Bill Harvey receives The ARF's first Erwin Ephron Demystification Award - June 9, 2014
Bill Harvey, recipient of the first Erwin Ephron Demystification
Award, with Gayle Fuguitt, CEO and President of the ARF.

(On the subject of acceptance speeches my mind always goes back to Sally Fields’ Oscar acceptance speech in which she emoted “You… like me!”)

For those of you who did not know Erwin, who passed on some months ago, he was one of the thought leaders of the advertising industry, known best for his ability to express himself so that not only did everyone understand him, his arguments were inarguable. He was also a great friend and mentor of mine. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had so many great mentors. The Universe sure has treated me nice since I acknowledged its sentience.

For those of you who weren’t there on Monday, here’s approximately what I said, with some unintentional omissions and a couple of new thoughts as I write this:

Thanks ARF, everyone involved, for this award. Thanks Erwin for teaching me how to demystify a little bit. I’m working at it. No one can do it like you could, buddy.

Interestingly, the last conversation I had with Erwin sort of presaged that there would be an Erwin Ephron Demystification Award. I was in a hotel room in Manhattan and my cell rang. It was him. He said that he and I still had some unfinished work to do together with the ARF. He said that the keyword is simplicity, that we need to get back to the basics of brand building (sales and long-term brand equity), and resist the attractiveness of all the new things that distract us from getting the brand to be more successful by making wise creative and media decisions. He expressed concern about how much time we spend reading or talking about new technologies. He didn’t object to including new stuff in the conversation, he just didn’t want us to go goggle-eyed and indecisive and to spend all our time that way. He knew how much hard work it takes to make brands succeed better.

I’ve been applying his advice. I have people editing my ravings to help me demystify more (hopefully). There are large blocks of time in which I refuse to even glance at email and instead focus on the biggest priorities. I studied Erwin’s book, Media Planning – From Recency to Engagement, again for more clues. Of course, I love his first chapter, since he wrote it about me. How can you not love a friend who does that? But it was in his second chapter, on page 8, where I found that any brand can gain 5% to 10% more cost effectiveness by geotargeting. It’s still true. Five to ten percent is a lot considering that typical mature brand domestic growth is almost zero percent. Back to basics. With partners, I’m developing hyperlocal automation partly inspired by Erwin. Actually we are not claiming 5-10% but only a minimum of 2%. Not to revise the master, but he wrote that a while ago when mature brands were still growing domestically. Today the game is a lot harder. What is really needed goes beyond what media and creative people can do. What is really needed is new product development focused on healthy sustainable environmentally-friendly and animal-friendly products more than on advertising to fuel a new growth cycle.

Let me leave you with a tip as to how to be next to win the Erwin Ephron Demystification Award. Write something that de-confuses us, something simple yet profound. Take the mystery out of something we are grappling with. Or at least, help us organize our confusion.

Thanks again to all!

The ARF is a great organization that nurtures the actual and potential brilliant scientists in the industry. Marketing science is every much a science as behavioral economics, and the two are interlocking fields of psychology.

Wishing you all great joy at your work!

Bill

PS — In my Myers blog (link below takes you to the most recent post in that series) I will soon publish a supplement to this post focusing on the technical comments I made, which are of interest to marketers and possibly of less interest to most people.

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

My new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That is now available.

Resiliency, Situational Awareness, Mission, and Positive Emotion

Volume 4, Issue 14

The word “resiliency” has risen in usage within the U.S. military. It means the ability to quickly spring back from traumatizing experiences and function at Flow state levels. This connotes a degree of toughness, mental toughness. A physical weakling with low resistance to pain might nevertheless have enough mental toughness to be more resilient than a battle-hardened athlete with high resistance to pain.

Mental toughness means enough non-attachment to not be enslaved by attachment. Slavery to attachment to this life can make one act in a cowardly fashion, as can slavery to attachment to the opinions of you held by those who know of you. Mind Magic spends a chapter on methods to clean out these slaveries, increasing mental toughness and resiliency.

As slavery to attachment is lessened, the Observer state emerges from the layers of internal distraction and conservation-of-energy-driven avoidance of giving attention internally, which prevailed in the reign of our various slaveries.

The air forces of the world use the term “situational awareness” to essentially mean the same thing I mean by “Observer state”. However they are not as interested in understanding the process and heightening it as much as I am. The term is applied to those fighter pilots who during a three-dimensional dogfight maintain a sense of where everybody is and the vector on which they are traveling. To do that requires at least Observer state and in the most situationally aware fighter pilots, Flow state.

The emotional state of the individual moving from the slaveries into these higher states is at first a relief from negative emotion. There may then be a period of emotionlessness that makes one feel as if one’s compass has been lost. What, then, am I here for, the individual may ask, now that the false drivers of attachment have been vitiated.

I wrote You Are The Universe: Imagine That for everybody but especially for people who have yet to realize their greatest passion in life, for whom slavery to attachment at least makes each day a drama, albeit grueling. Liberation from the slaveries is replaced by a vacuum if one is not focused on a Mission to deliver one’s gifts to others in the highest way possible. The book explains how to find your sense of Mission and understand the context in which you are part of a larger whole in a true scientific and yet spiritually inspiring way — so that each day may be not only vibrantly dramatic but also filled with positive emotion.

May your day be filled with both vibrant drama and positive emotion!

Bill

My new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That is now available.

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.