Opinion | Features
- Ahead of tonight's launch of Freeview Plus, Mumbrella’s Nic Christensen looks at what the new HbbTV service will mean for broadcast rights, piracy, and the way advertisers serve up their content. It’s not every day that you get a TV sales boss like Nine’s Peter Wiltshire admitting the weaknesses of television as a medium. “It was one of the great achilles heels of broadcast television that it was one to many,” says Wiltshire who is group sales and marketing director for Nine. “For years we’ve been talking about how do you build a one to one platform in broadcast television. That channel was going to be the remote control, then the telephone, now it's a smartphone and we are reaching a point where the back channel becomes the TV itself.” Like many in the TV industry Wiltshire is spruiking the potential transformative changes today’s Freeview Plus launch could offer in the long term. For advertisers it means new data and product integration opportunities which have been out of reach until now. Television as a one to one medium The new data possibilities of HbbTV potentially make the old “scattergun” approach to television buying less relevant. Instead of clients buying an audience of say a million viewers in the hope a certain percentage are their target market, data analytics and the opportunity for integration and new brand content targeted to the specific viewer, with the opportunity to buy now, via the Freeview Plus red button come into play. “The red button on each channel will have a myriad of commercial opportunities,” says Liz Ross, general manager of Freeview. “That is where you will have commercial apps, for example, in Germany we have seen BMW sponsor a commercial application when they launched a new car. "We’ve also seen a big fashion retailer launch a dedicated fashion button before a big sale.” These opportunities have all the major commercial networks salivating at the advertising opportunities, with some like Seven and Ten already in talks with clients. But it is the potential to deliver tailored advertising, for example a luxury car manufacturer might buy television based on things like the postcode and the household’s demographics and wealth profile, that really has the free-to-air networks excited. “The data allows you to become a lot more personable about who you are talking to and talk to them and that is exactly what hybrid TV will give us,” says Kurt Burnette, chief revenue officer for Seven West Media. “It is a huge opportunity for our consumers and our advertisers and it allows us to get analytics around that viewing behaviour that we have never had before through the broadcast signal.” Former Myspace Australia boss and now Network Ten digital supremo Rebekah Horne agrees: “What you are talking about is if you are BMW and you have an ad on the television that you can have an integrated component in that ad - it might be hit a button to book a test drive or what have you. “It then means we are able to deliver audiences more contextually relevant experiences whether that's around content or advertising.” Tailoring integration Media buyers say they are optimistic about the potential of the technology improving the consumer experience of advertising too. Former US TV production house executive, and now head of business development at media agency MEC, Tim Flattery argues these changes will be good for advertiser and viewer alike. "Relevance, timing and accuracy are all things which increase the science behind TV buying and is good not only for the buyer but for the viewer," says Flattery, who in his previous role with Grainey Pictures, created content for cable and online TV networks. "One of the things I found being a Hulu customer for a year and a half in the United States was that I loved the way the system learnt my tastes and preferences and started serving me ads that were perfectly suited." [caption id="attachment_248751" align="alignright" width="234"] Some of the German advertiser microsites on Prosieben Click to enlarge.[/caption] Freeview's Ross goes one step further arguing that HbbTV offers advertiser integration opportunities far greater than traditional broadcast has had. "In Germany they have four multichannels and then 15 IPTV channels, but from a commercial point of view Paypal had sponsored one of those IPTV channels - so you have have a commercial advertiser who initiates a content opportunity." ZenithOptimedia boss Ian Perrin says such integrations are already available in Australia and there are potential risks for clients. "Integration is a huge opportunity but the reality is that you can already do that with say the Telstra set top box, but not many people are," says Perrin. "Access to (the channels) will be fantastic but we need to make sure our clients have the right content strategies. We don’t want to be producing a channel which no one will watch and that there is some genuinely interesting content there that people will go to." Perrin also warns the networks not to over-promise on the technology aspect. "We have been made a lot of promises in the past around the future of television," he says. "Obviously this technology is fantastic but it also involves the consumers catching up and using the technology. That will take a bit longer than we would all like." Nine's Wiltshire argues that all the free-to-air networks are being realistic in their expectations. "There is a significant amount of interest in that it is a new technology and a new opportunity for advertisers," he says before adding: "At the same I think everybody has their reality cap on and that says the numbers in the early stages will be extremely small and we would prefer to have a clean model in the early stages until we establish the technology from a consumer experience point of view." [caption id="attachment_248770" align="alignright" width="234"] A German example of a supercorner with the movie Thor. Click to enlarge.[/caption] One of the other elements the networks are pushing is the ability to serve ads within the catch up function of the HbbTV. In Germany the networks already have a number of options available to advertisers, including super corners, which cover the right hand corner of the screen as viewers scroll a catch up service. TV sales veteran Wiltshire argues the larger screen real estate offered on new HbbTV television sets will indeed be monetisable. "The fact is if we can serve them the right technology and the right opportunity in content connected experiences and advertisers can find compelling reasons for advertisers to hit the red button on their remote, then everyone wins out of that. "There is increased screen real estate as people upgrade and the next phase of televisions is in the 70-80 inch category and that screen real estate is enormous," he says. "For $6,000-$7,000 you can pick up something in the 70 inch range that is a very big panel and is a good enabler for a good connected HbbTV experience." Piracy and the digital rights challenges A major factor behind the free-to-air network push has been the rise of piracy and the general consumer trend towards time shifting shows and catch up TV options. At last week's investor briefing Nine CEO David Gyngell warned the network was already seeing audiences decline after 8.30pm. “You already see it in viewing habits past 8.30-9pm at night when people are doing all their catch up," said Gyngell. "They can’t find anything they’d like to watch and they’re doing their watching of stuff they recorded over the weekend. That’s when they start watching and what we are trying to be is a full service TV business.” The challenge here is traditionally networks have not always been thorough in ensuring they had the catch up TV rights to everything they broadcast. "The major problem with catch up services generally is that they foster an expectation that everything is available," says Chris Irvine commercial director at production house Essential Media and Entertainment. "The problem is that the rights needed to feed that service are pretty complex and sometimes they can’t be cleared and you have tolerate gaps in that catch up schedule... when you have an HbbTV service it is a game changer because viewers are going to go looking for anything that they have missed, and they will notice almost immediately if the functionality is compromised when the catch up rights aren’t available." Irvine argues this is one thing the networks have been lacking. "People want to keep carving up TV rights the way they have always done and the money and effort goes into handcuffing the technology and forcing it to adhere to this old fashioned criteria," he says. "The way the networks have sometimes been responding is to say 'look this is all too hard, leave it out of the catch up offering'. I’m just not sure with HbbTV that they are going to be able to do that." Seven general manager of group technical services Trevor Bird says they are aware of the problem: "We are concentrating on ensuring we do have the rights to as much content as possible so that there aren’t any gaps in our reverse electronic program guide. "We want to ensure that if people see it on broadcast television then they can see it on catch up." Likewise Nine says it will be exploiting the rights windows (often around 28 days post broadcast) to their full potential. "Every show has different rights windows and we will exploit that rights window to its full capability, but they are all different," says Rebecca Haagsma, director, Jumpin and digital operations at Nine Entertainment. "The great thing about HbbTV is that you can target catch up by area so as soon as broadcasts happen in Perth, Melbourne or Brisbane we will be able to run the catch up straight after that within the rights window." For media buyers such as Flattery, enabling such choice will be important to the success of the platform. "It gives people choice over their schedules and timings," he says. "The power of choice is what we want as human beings. It feeds to that positive media experience that we (as advertisers and consumers) have been looking for." To read yesterday's feature on the impact of HbbTV on the consumer experience click here.
- With more Australian companies eyeing Asian expansion Matt McDougal looks at the particular challenges of establishing a brand in the Chinese market. We often mistakenly believe that globalisation means we all have the same tastes and consumer habits. In some cases perhaps this is true to a certain extent but never forget to localise. No brand should count on its international recognition to reach the Chinese population. Mattel, for example, paid a huge price when they belatedly realised Chinese girls did not attach the same importance to a Barbie doll compared to Western girls.Yes, for the most of us, Barbie is an uncontested icon and a reminder of our childhood but she is also a white, sexy doll that has nothing to do with what Chinese girls like. Again and again, brands pay the price for not doing their homework and understanding Chinese consumer tastes. Whether we are talking about large brands or smaller ones, digital marketing remains a smart choice of advertising in China. The Chinese netizen population is huge and continues to increase with 645 million in 2014 compared to 618 million in 2013. Other studies show that more than 75 percent of the netizen population accesses the Internet via mobile devices. These figures reveal that China is not only a paradise because of its huge population but because it offers great opportunities for advertising online. To ensure a strong online presence in China, brands should prioritise their local website, social media and a search engine optimisation strategy. Chinese consumers purchase brands they know and trust. They are tech savvy researchers and will look at peer reviews online before making purchase decisions. Always with their smartphone, they will regularly check comments and ads to make sure they are purchasing the right product. Your website is a core element of your brand strategy and the absence of one indicates a Company with no credibility. As with everything else, your website needs to be localised and this doesn’t merely entail adding Mandarin pages to a Western website. Why? Because Baidu (China’s most popular search engine) gives priority to Chinese content and a Western website with tabs in Chinese would definitely be penalised. It is therefore necessary to have a localised micro-site built from the ground up with Chinese browser habits, design/UX standards and your Chinese consumer’s persona in mind. Bear in mind that Chinese consumers tend to be skeptical about brands and would always trust fellow consumers over "official" reviews and ratings of products. In a nutshell reputation and customer-brand relationship management are key in China. Paid search (PPC) is a powerful tool in China, but again, it works differently than in the West. One major difference is the language structure. It has a fundamental consequence on the bidding for keywords and optimisation/structure of accounts. SEO is also quite different in China. The Baidu spider is quite different than the Google bot, and generally does not crawl deeper than three levels within website structures – sites that have thousands of pages that have been indexed on Google might only have hundreds that index on Baidu. The ranking algorithm is also different on Baidu. Many Western brands do not even have first page visibility. This issue is primarily due to a Google-centric SEO strategy that does not work on Baidu. Google in the post-Panda [the algorithm changes implemented by Google, not the cute bear] world is looking for 'content' when in many cases Baidu is looking for local inbound links. These differences interfere with the standard strategies a brand would go for normally. Western brands are aware that Facebook, Youtube, Twitter as well as Google or SnapChat has their local equivalents in China. However, Chinese users would rather post pictures on Moments (Personal wall on WeChat) than go on Instagram. Each Chinese app has its own unique functionality — there are also high volume niche social media platforms such as Qzone or Renren, which are used primarily by vast numbers of newly graduated students. Also very popular are Youku or Tudou (video-sharing sites equivalent to Youtube). Before entering the Chinese market and building any kind of strategy, brands have to consider and acknowledge the differences they will have to overcome in order to break into China. The sooner you understand this, the stronger your brand will be in China and the quicker you will see that ROI. Matt McDougal is the founder of digital marketing agency Digital Jungle
- Tomorrow sees the launch of Freeview Plus, the long-awaited industry hybrid broadcast/IPTV service. Ahead of the launch, Mumbrella’s Nic Christensen talked to Freeview and the five major TV networks, in this two part special, to look at how it might impact the medium and the wider industry. It's 2019 and 32-year-old Eve from Kirribilli in Sydney comes home late from work. As she settles on the sofa after a long day in the office she flicks on the TV, and realises she has missed the season premiere of her favourite US TV drama series. Years ago Eve could have caught up on her tablet or computer, but the major TV networks would have made her wait until the program had finished broadcasting and then a little time waiting for it to be made live online, as well as limiting her to their broadcast schedule. But in 2019 her HbbTV internet connected TV knows she’s coming in late to the show and asks her “do you want to watch this program from the start?” She hits yes and starts watching a streamed broadcast of the show from the beginning. And when the show is finished, rather than having to wait until next week for the next instalment, a prompt comes up asking if she would like to “binge” and watch the next couple of episodes. “Why not it's only 9pm?”, Eve thinks as she clicks yes. A pre-roll ad, that is targeted to her based on not only her viewing habits, demographic, gender but also her postcode of Kirribilli, plays. In 2019 traditional linear TV isn’t dead, thanks mainly to event TV and live sport, but the addition of hybrid broadcast broadband TV (HbbTV) has added a final piece to the catch up television puzzle. Well that’s the dream of Australia’s five free-to-air TV networks, and industry body Freeview Australia, anyway. The question is: can they make it a reality? HbbTV a ‘game changer' for Australian TV? In Australia both IPTV and catch up television itself is not new. As many as 200,000 Australian already subscribe to Netflix, indeed we lead the world in piracy, and that’s before you get to the myriad of IPTV options already confronting consumers with Apple TV, FetchTV, Presto, BBC iPlayer, Google Chromecast, Quickflix, not to mention the various disparate free-to-air network catch up offerings - ABC iView, SBS OnDemand, Plus7, Jumpin and Tenplay. [caption id="attachment_248230" align="alignright" width="170"] Liz Ross[/caption] With so much choice available the challenge was to create one aggregate platform for Australian TV similar to Hulu in the US. While there have been calls for such a service since at least 2011, the challenge has been getting Australia's free-to-air networks to work together. The person who took on this challenging task is Liz Ross, general manager of Freeview. “What we are doing is the first in the world,” Ross declares. “In all the other countries (such as Germany and France) they are all doing the HbbTV red button experience, which is channel by channel, but no one has provided an aggregated EPG (electronic program guide) where you can get to everybody’s catch up offering.” Central to Freeview Plus will be the red and green buttons that exist on most TV remotes already. Each time a consumer changes the channel on a HbbTV enabled television they will be presented in the left corner with an option to press the red or green button of their remote; the red will take them to that station’s IPTV catch up service (iView, OnDemand, Plus7, Jumpin or Tenplay), while the green will take them to the Freeview Plus electronic program guide (EPG). While EPGs are nothing new for millions of Australians, particularly those with a pay-TV service Foxtel, the Freeview Plus offering will represent a major change for many: firstly in that with one click of the red button on their remote it allow them to access the five different network catch up services; and secondly offering a variety of new features including featured content, recommendations, a search function and favourites. (Freeview demonstration video which will be played in stores to show consumers the technology.) After 50 years of being limited to the same linear broadcast patterns this represents a massive potential opportunity for Australia’s TV networks to allow viewers to tailor the services to them. “We are across 13 different platforms,” says Rebecca Heap, head of TV strategy and digital products for the ABC, who leads its iView offering, “and while we are on connected TVs, I think the thing we’ve been missing is that mass of viewing through the main television set.” This view is also shared by Network Seven, whose general manager of group technical services Trevor Bird adds: “The reason this is the missing piece in the catch up puzzle is that prior to this we only had the Plus7 (IPTV catch-up) service available on certain brands of TV sets that we may have collaborated with. “HbbTV provides us the ability to provide content to people in a very low friction way.” Getting market penetration The first challenge for Freeview and the TV networks will be getting the HbbTV televisions into the home of millions of Australians. The technical challenges involved in the rollout of HbbTV are extensive and freely acknowledged by Freeview’s Ross, who says they have done a lot of work in the area and hopes for 10 per cent penetration, around 800,000 households, by September 2015. She cites the German experience of HbbTV with Prosieben, which is now three years post launch and has around 30 per cent penetration, as a case study arguing most of its growth has come in the last two years. “When we’ve looked at the rate of growth in Germany it was a bit like smart phones,” says Ross. “You had the early adopters before it suddenly started taking off in years two and year three where it had steep growth because 100 per cent of the smart TVs (sold) were HbbTV.” Tomorrow’s launch is expected to see Freeview announce a modest list of certified TV manufacturers, while the first HbbTV set top box will not hit stores until October. [caption id="attachment_248332" align="alignright" width="200"] Prosieben case study from Germany. Click to enlarge.[/caption] Ross says that by Christmas the range will be more extensive, with a 32 inch HbbTV starting at under $600, while set top boxes could be around the $100 mark. There has also been strong interest from major retailers with the likes of Harvey Norman and The Good Guys in the process of extensive sales training with staff, and Freeview ensuring there is sales collateral and video demos in store from rollout. (Freeview training video which is being shown to sales staff in stores to help them show consumers the technology.) “Our announcement will include some of the largest manufacturers and while not everybody will be bringing products out on the same day they all have plans to have products coming out from September to Christmas," says Ross. “Going into Christmas there will be a big choice with many TVs saying Freeview Plus.” Ross also noted some manufacturers have said they would be pushing software upgrades out to some existing HbbTV enabled smart TVs already in homes. "I’m already aware of at least three manufacturers who will upgrade sets that have been sold over the last 6 to 12 months," she said. "That will affect quite a lot of receivers." But there will also be other technical challenges. For example, Freeview Plus won't be compatible with Foxtel's iQ offering meaning any of its 2.5m subscribers buying HbbTV sets or set top boxes will have to change inputs if they want to switch between their pay-TV services and the new free-to-air HbbTV offering. Foxtel will also later this year release iQ3 which is expected to challenge the free-to-air offering and provide its own enhanced IPTV offering. The pay-TV operator declined to be interviewed for this piece. Network Nine sales boss Peter Wiltshire says the networks are being realistic about how long it will take to get market penetration. “It’s a brilliant new technology and it will be a great enhancement to the viewing experience,” says Wiltshire. “But you have got some significant amount of time before penetration and any opportunity for consumers on any level of mass becomes reality.” Seven's technical boss Trevor Bird agrees, but says there is the potential for consumer uptake to surprise if the networks provide a strong content offering. “Australians buy about 2.5m TV sets in this country each year,” says Bird. “The evidence is 70 per cent of first smart TV sets which are in the main living room are actually hooked up and 40 per cent of secondary TV sets are actually hooked up. “In two years from now we will have a couple of million (HbbTV) TV sets in homes hooked up (to the web), and if we have a really great compelling offer and there is a lot of buzz about it and people really have to have this offer then penetration will be higher.” The content question Multicultural broadcaster SBS has taken a lead in HbbTV, choosing to launch its offering in June rather than wait for its fellow free-to-air rivals. The launch helped generate some free publicity for the smaller public broadcaster, but SBS manager of technology strategy and innovation Trevor Long says that wasn’t the reason for going early: “We launched in beta so we could get any technical feedback and continue our technical trials with manufacturers who are in the market. “The development of these apps has not been easy and we wanted to be sure that come Freeview Plus time we were comfortable that our viewer experience was going to be the best we could offer.” [caption id="attachment_248341" align="alignright" width="234"] Screen shot of Prosieben IPTV channels. Click to enlarge.[/caption] HbbTV will eventually allow Networks to create separate internet-based channels in addition to their main channels. Germany's Prosieben has 15 channels covering fashion, automotive, DIY and other interest areas, all with massive commercial opportunities. In the run up to Freeview Plus launching the networks have been wary of signalling new IPTV channel offerings and certain functionalities, like the ability to download a show that is currently being broadcast, technologies which would further fragment traditional TV viewing audiences. So far only Seven has put its toe in the water announcing in January that it would, eventually, offer a health and lifestyle IPTV channel Healthy Me TV which is already live online. SBS’s Long says it's not the additional new channels that excite him most, but the potential HbbTV unlocks for existing programming, citing the engagement its viewers have with food programming. He adds: “If you are watching SBS on a Thursday night then we know you love food and if you press the red button rather than just taking you to our OnDemand app, with all of our offerings, we present to your food content, additional video content or even recipes on the screen. There could also be advertiser integration and sponsorship. “But when you press that button on a Wednesday night it’s different.” Freeview’s Ross argues all of this would give consumers much greater choice in content, while also unlocking lucrative advertising integration deals. “The supermarket that has Jamie Oliver could have a Jamie Oliver cooking channel,” she says. "It could be sponsored by the supermarket and all that sort of stuff is completely relevant. “It is conceivable that next year Nine could do an (HbbTV) app for The Block. Mitre10 could own it and could have special interactive things where you can make inquiries or get the shopping list for that renovation.” Selling Freeview Plus The key objective for the free-to-air television industry will be selling viewers and advertisers not only on the potential of HbbTV, but their ability to deliver market penetration and a compelling offering, redefining catch up and IPTV in Australia. It is no small task and first salvo in the campaign will begin next week with a 30 second television ad across all free-to-air channels promoting the arrival of “catch up in one place” and featuring a number of household names. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqBmTllDN1M “The promotional power that will be unleashed in the next few weeks and months is unprecedented,” warns Seven West revenue officer Kurt Burnette. However, the road to launch has been fraught with drama. As Mumbrella revealed in June, regional Seven affiliate Prime Media Group pulled out of the industy body Freeview, with the network arguing the low take up of smart TVs in regional areas was a sign the regional market is undeveloped and not ready for the Freeview Plus service. Freeview boss Ross played down the issue and suggestions they are behind a delay, which saw the launch moved from May to September, arguing the change of dates has mostly been to do with manufacturer and supplier issues. "(The tensions) have been widely exaggerated,” she says. “We told the market that we would be out by the end of the first half of 2014. Our friends at some of the newspapers like to say we are six months late - well actually we said we’d be out by June.” Ten’s chief digital officer Rebekah Horne says Freeview should be commended for getting all the major networks onboard. “Freeview has done a really good job of corralling all of the industry people and companies,” says Horne. “It is tremendously important and a shot in the arm for the industry that they have been able to work together” While Nine’s Wiltshire is more to the point: “We have a reputation for not getting along that well so if anything can improve that reputation this is probably a good step in the right direction.” ABC iView boss Heap says she is excited for what HbbTV could do for the future of both catch up and the wider industry. “The key thing is this is extremely exciting, and much awaited, for consumers - having it in the lounge room is going to be a bit of a game-changer for all our catch up services,” she says. SBS innovation boss Long agrees: “I reckon this is the one thing that will take catch up to the next level. Catch up is awesome but there is still a huge population that may have heard of it but won’t know where to get it. But if we can put it right in front of them - on their lounge where they normally watch television, that will change how we deliver and monetise our content.” Part two tomorrow will examine the impact of HbbTV on the advertiser experience and look at how the TV networks are aiming to capitalise on the both the revenue opportunities presented by Freeview Plus and in their fight against piracy.
- With several of Australia's biggest media accounts coming up for tender and many changing hands this year David Spasovic looks at what is causing so many client-agency relationships to fracture. A cursory glance at the recent stories, opinion pieces and comments in the trade press present an image of significant rumblings of discontent in our industry. A quick count of media relationships that are or have recently been reviewed is evidence of this - Woolworths, Federal Government, Lion, Diageo, Nestle and CBA are a few accounts that fall into this category. These guys add up to hundreds of millions of dollars of spending. Does this indicate there is a yawning gap between what clients are looking for and what agencies are providing? The strength of some of the comments posted on this site would suggest this is the case. I recently moved from a client-side role to take up an opportunity in a media agency. Whilst most of my career has been spent in media agencies, I feel after spending a few years on the client side I better appreciate what clients actually want and why. The client I worked for, Harvey Norman, is widely known for doing its media in-house. However, we did work with several external agency partners. This, combined with my past experience across several agencies allows me to compare and contrast what a client is looking for and what an agency delivers. Four key themes occur that are worth putting forward for discussion: 1. Clients don’t want to pitch but are often forced to There is a misconception that clients are endlessly fishing around for a better deal, for any agency that is better, cheaper and faster. Whilst some clients are obliged to tender on a periodic basis, the reality is that clients would prefer not to change agencies at all. Clients often move on because the trust they have in their agency to deliver on their needs has been diminished. It sounds simple but the best way to keep clients happy is to listen to them, understand what they want and do your damnedest to deliver on these needs. An agency that is not driven by their clients’ needs and is instead pushing another agenda can be spotted a mile off. This means being completely transparent with them, and taking ownership of mistakes when they occur, which is not always the case. 2. Appreciate that media is just one part of the puzzle I have worked for some great media agencies and had the pleasure to work with some amazingly talented people who come up with great ideas. However, if there was a weakness in the overall approach it was a lack of appreciation that the client’s world did not begin and end with its media agency. Media agencies have an important role to play but they are just one part of the puzzle. Agencies need to realise that there are other factors that influence a client’s decisions such as budget cuts or changes to marketing direction. Working collaboratively with a client in an effective team can be as important as what actual work is produced. 3. Failure is ok Media agencies have to accept that failure in some form is inevitable, and they need to more readily own their mistakes. It was on the client side that I was exposed to a completely different approach that I felt was much more honest and accepting of imperfection. If a media plan was a flop, we wouldn’t dwell on it. We wouldn’t try to ‘put lipstick on a pig’. We would accept that something didn’t work. Importantly, we would work out why it didn’t work, then document and communicate this. Then we would draw a line in the sand and move on. The amount of effort to take this approach was by far an easier path and allowed us to focus our energies on the next thing. I am a complete advocate for accountability and transparency, and I’m not saying that if a campaign didn’t work we’d ignore it. There was definitely reporting to be done. But I realised on the client side a lot less time and effort was allocated to package up something that was bad to look good, than there is on the media agency side. I think that some agencies get distracted by trying to look good when it’s more important to be honest and focus on the client’s business. It is amazing how being open and upfront about imperfections can help build a healthy, long-term relationship. 4. Embrace staff diversity I found on client side that the capabilities and the limitations of the staff were acknowledged and accepted. Agencies need to give more time to matching up the right people to the right account rather than taking a cookie-cutter approach. Of course, every agency claims to have the ‘best staff’ and ‘best training’, but best at what? Whilst there are a few exceptions, clients generally place a greater emphasis than agencies on putting their staff into roles that gets the best out of them. Taking this approach is quickly reflected in the quality of output and ‘value’ produced. At the end of the day, the game that we are in is to sell more stuff. On the client side my role was to help deliver sales. That was it. The fact I worked in the digital area to do this was almost secondary. The key stakeholders interest in what I did pretty much began and ended with wanting to know what digital channels drove best ROI. Most clients behave like this. Agencies influenced by factors other than driving their client sales can easily be spotted. Achieving a client’s business objectives needs to be seen to be more important to an agency than awards, parties, or number of clients they have. Trying to achieve this may occasionally lead to a cock-up and will definitely depend on great collaboration amongst different types of people. Clients are human and appreciate that no-one is perfect, but if they trust and believe in you then long-term, profitable relationships will ensue. David Spasovic is head of digital advertising at Nunn Media
- As the government considers changes to national security legislation Keiran Hardy looks at what today's proposals would mean for the media if implemented, in a cross-posting from The Conversation. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) will publish its report on the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014 (Cth) sometime during this sitting of parliament. The bill, introduced in the last sitting of parliament, has attracted significant criticism for the potential impact of proposed offences on media outlets. The main fear, fuelled by the fallout from the WikiLeaks and Snowden affairs, is that journalists could be imprisoned for reporting intelligence abuses or mistakes revealed by a “whistleblowing” intelligence officer, even when doing so would be in the public interest. While the bill contains a wide range of proposed changes, these more specific concerns relate to the “special intelligence operations” (SIO) provisions. The proposed SIO regime would give ASIO officers civil and criminal immunity for acts done in the course of special undercover operations. These would be authorised by the Director-General or Deputy Director-General of Security. These powers are broadly based on the “controlled operations” regime for Australian Federal Police officers in the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), although an SIO could be authorised for a longer initial period and would not require intermittent renewal by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Provisions to fortify secrecy The key provision is a proposed Section 35P, which would insert a new disclosure offence into the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (Cth). This offence would provide a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment where a person discloses information, and that information relates to a special intelligence operation. An aggravated offence, punishable by ten years’ imprisonment, would apply where such a disclosure endangers health or safety or prejudices a SIO. The aggravated offence would also apply where the person intends such results. This is framed as an alternative so the prosecution would not need to prove such intent for the higher penalty to apply. Both offences would apply to any person, not just intelligence officers or government contractors. There is no exemption for information disclosed in the public interest. There is only one legal trick to reading these provisions; otherwise, they are as broad as they sound. The qualification is that the person must be reckless as to whether the information relates to an SIO – that is, the person must be aware of a “substantial risk” that the information relates to an SIO, and then decide to publish that information anyway. Given that the major concern is about journalists reporting on the conduct of intelligence agencies, it does not appear that this would be a difficult requirement for the prosecution to satisfy. The offences could certainly, therefore, apply to a whistleblower scenario where a journalist publishes classified information that he or she received from an intelligence officer. If that information related to an SIO, and the journalist was aware of a substantial risk that it related to an SIO, the journalist could face five years in prison. If disclosing that information endangered the safety of an ASIO officer involved in the undercover operation, such as by revealing some information about his or her identity, the journalist would face twice that penalty. In either case, the journalist need not intend to endanger health or safety for a serious criminal penalty to apply. A chilling effect on media freedom If enacted, the offences will likely have a significant chilling effect on the freedom of media outlets to publish information relating to Australia’s intelligence agencies. Many would argue that this is a positive and justifiable outcome with regard to WikiLeaks-style scenarios, where a journalist would be publishing classified information communicated to them illegally. But the proposed provisions will also have an impact more broadly on any journalists reporting on national security issues. Consider, for example, if a reporter was informed about dawn raids on the houses of terrorist suspects. They might decline to publish that information for fear they will be disclosing information that relates to an SIO. Much of the fear and concern about the SIO disclosure offences is therefore justified, although much confusion has surrounded the government’s proposed changes. This has hindered meaningful debate. The confusion is largely because Section 35P has been portrayed as part of a crackdown on intelligence whistleblowers, when this is really the justification for other proposed changes contained in the bill. Schedule 6 proposes to strengthen and modernise existing offences relating to the disclosure of information by intelligence officers. It would introduce new disclosure offences for copying or recording classified information. These proposed changes are the government’s core package to prevent intelligence whistleblowing and they would not apply to journalists, unless it could be shown that one entered into an “agreement or arrangement” with an intelligence agency. Powers are growing but not entirely new Section 35P poses a significant issue for freedom of the press. If enacted it will operate alongside the other disclosure offences in Schedule 6 of the bill, but it is designed more to ensure SIO secrecy than to prevent Snowden-style revelations. In this respect, Section 35P is more akin to the disclosure offences attached to ASIO’s questioning and detention warrant powers, or the AFP’s preventative detention order regime, than it is to these other anti-whistleblower measures. What this suggests is that criticisms of Section 35P are indeed warranted, but some of this criticism has been confused due to significant hype surrounding the WikiLeaks and Snowden affairs. There are already existing offences that could apply to journalists who retain or reveal information disclosed to them by intelligence officers. Under Section 79 of the Crimes Act, for example, a journalist could face seven years’ imprisonment for receiving classified information in circumstances that would constitute an act of espionage. Given the broad scope of espionage offences in Section 91.1 of the Criminal Code, this offence poses a real danger to journalists who report on information disclosed to them by intelligence officers. In this respect, Section 35P is exacerbating a danger posed to journalists by existing legislation, perhaps because that legislation was not drafted with WikiLeaks-style scenarios in mind. The proposed offence is not, however, a radical new attempt to restrict freedom of the press. This should not in any way reduce criticism of the government’s proposed changes – but recognition of this fact could help to shift the focus of public debate away from the heated debates on WikiLeaks and Snowden, and towards a more constructive dialogue. The challenge is how to frame appropriate offences and exemptions for disclosing national security information, especially where freedom of the press is at risk. Keiran Hardy is a PhD researcher at the faculty of law at UNSW Australia This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
- With publishers struggling to monetise digital and marketers unable to achieve cut through John McLean argues it's time to ditch banner ads and get collaborating. In a medium infatuated and necessitated by innovation, display advertising has been criminally bereft of it since it’s inception 20 years ago. The first banner ad appeared in Wired Magazine in 1994* and little has changed since around 2000 when rich media placements became more common due to better connection speeds. Still standard banners still have a maximum file size of 40k and for the most part are still developed in Flash. But broadband and the new mobile paradigm are finally forcing a shift and the dominant players are changing. [caption id="attachment_247696" align="aligncenter" width="468"] The first ever banner ad on Mashable[/caption] In so-called “traditional” channels, marketing attempts to modify behaviour (i.e. sell stuff) by entertaining, informing and engaging consumers. So too with digital media, however it is also uniquely interactive offering marketers the potential for deeper engagement and the opportunity to provide genuine utility. Only digital media can deliver such immersive brand experiences as BMW The Hire, Nike Fuel Band, Subservient Chicken, Decode Jay-Z and the rest. As they are, banner ads simply devalue the digital medium in the mind of marketers and consumers. Rather than providing engaging interactivity, Banner Ads were conceived to treat computer screens like billboards. Standard banners are simply resized print ads. Worse still, rich banner ads are used to disrupt users as they navigate the web with page takeovers, interstitials and pre-rolls et al -eeuugghh! At least you can grab a cup of tea when a TVC comes on, harder to avoid disruptive banners. Not surprisingly, we hate and actively avoid them. This phenomenon is called “banner blindness”; as evidenced in studies like this one that employed eye (heat) tracking to monitor where people look when visiting websites – everywhere but the banner. So... who cares?! Well, the problem is the disproportionate amount of marketing dollars spent on a medium that people hate and woefully under-performs. Success is often measured against ‘page impressions’ regardless of the fact that ads are often served out of view. “Clicks” are the only metric worth considering, yet a click rate of 0.01% is considered a success. Here are a few more stats that never cease to appall me: 1. An estimated 31 percent of ad impressions can’t be viewed by users. (Comscore) 2. 8 percent of Internet users account for 85 percent of clicks. (ComScore) 3. Up to 50 percent of clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental. (GoldSpot Media) 4. You’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad. (Solve Media) 5. 15 percent of people trust banner ads completely or somewhat,compared to 29 percent for TV ads. (eMarketer) 6. 34 percent don’t trust banner ads at all or much, compared to 26 percent for magazine ads. (eMarketer) These stats are from the US, but parallels can be inferred. The point is that I suspect a survey of Australian digital marketing budgets would reveal more money was spent on banner ad campaigns than more effective alternatives. This money is wasted and should be spent on formats and tactics that have a proven ROI, directly drive sales and engage the consumer. Publishers and media agencies beware, according to eMarketer growth in banner revenue is steadily declining and reliance on such revenue will need to be addressed if many businesses are to remain viable. Three quarters of Aussies access the internet via mobile devices (MagnaGlobal's report 'Unlocking the power of mobile') and according to influential tech analyst Mary Meeker, mobile internet usage will surpass desktop within a few years. Its not surprising then that Google is driving hard to innovate and dominate the mobile display media space. Google’s new ‘Engagement Ads’ extend beyond typical Rich Media units. They are indistinguishable from branded micro-sites, offering all the features, content and engaging interactivity that one could expect from a campaign site. As they are developed in HTML/CSS they can be served to all devices. Better formats also need to be placed contextually. Context (as well as content) is king and ads need to resonate with the content a consumer is engaging with. People are more likely to click on an ad to unlock a richer experience if the message is relevant to their interests and real time situation. Further, ads need to be targeted to individual consumers. Programmatic buying has had a clumsy start, but it will most certainly come of age. Re-targeting is just as important as initial targeting, if not more so. Presenting communications that are re-targeted against device, location and site searches are very effective. If a person is accessing content via a mobile device, then serving advertising based on their search terms, location, situation and that fact that they are indeed “mobile” will better facilitate “path-to-purchase”. Technologies such as Google Ad-sense can help deliver these outcomes. Finally, marketers should abandon the hopelessly impotent disruptive approach to advertising in favour of “native ad” strategies where branded content is integrated (not camouflaged) with other content. This allows users to be served ads relevant to them in an engaging manner that is neither deceptive nor accidental. Banner ads must die... and be reborn as a medium with which humans actually wish to engage. The industry needs to collaborate to innovate and evolve the space or players risk being superseded. If digital advertising is better aligned and targeted, it cannot help but be more effective (and sell more stuff). John McLean is general manager of Webling Interactive
- With Buzzfeed pushing to be recognised as a news site Ciaran Norris looks at why it matters for new online media outlets to be seen as serious.
Every morning on its News Breakfast show the ABC runs through the major stories on the front pages of the day’s newspapers, covering everything from the Sydney Morning Herald to The Age, the Daily Telegraph to The Mercury. But it has also, for some time, included the homepage of the Australian version of The Guardian which differs from the rest of the organisations included because it has no printed version.Whilst the idea that an organisation shouldn’t have to print words on to paper to be considered a news publisher isn’t exactly a radical one, it does raise some interesting questions about what does qualify as news media, who decides what qualifies and whether it matters.
Nielsen obviously agrees with the ABC that The Guardian counts as news media as it ranks the site in amongst other news organisations. However, Nielsen also categorises the local version of the Mail Online as a news site though the ABC doesn’t feature it. Something that both the ABC and Nielsen do appear to agree on though is that Buzzfeed isn’t a news organisation.
Earlier this year Buzzfeed questioned its categorisation by Nielsen; rather than being listed as a news site it is listed in the “search engines, portals and communities” category. Simon Crerar, Buzzfeed Australia’s editor, was quoted by Mumbrella as saying:
We consider ourselves a news and entertainment company in the same way that NineMSN, News.com.au and the Mail Online have a mix between hard news and entertainment content. That is very much what we do too.Crerar suggested that if Buzzfeed had been so categorised, it would have featured in the top ten news sites, alongside both The Guardian and Mail Online. As to why he would want to be considered a news outlet, The Australian suggested it might be so that Buzzfeed could charge higher advertising rates. Whilst it may once have been true that publishers could charge a premium because they reported news (presumably in the days when news could be easily classified), those days have mostly passed. In reality “news”, whether on TV or in print, was simply a vehicle that could be more or less guaranteed to deliver consistently large audiences, and prices were set accordingly; the audiences held the value, not the type of content they happened to be consuming, but because the products or programmes were the best proxies for those audiences, they commanded the big dollars. However, this is no longer the case. The scale of the audiences that can be found on sites such as Facebook or YouTube dwarf any traditional media outlet, whilst premiums are now more likely to be paid for integration, context and data. Why then do we continue to argue about what does or doesn’t constitute a news organisation? Maybe it’s because the best of these actually set the news agenda, rather than just reporting it. The concept of “agenda setting” goes back to research in the US from 1968, but it has been proven on numerous occasions since, perhaps most recently when an editorial in the New York Times calling for the legalisation of marijuana in the US led to a huge amount of coverage for an opinion which isn’t really that surprising. There’s a compelling argument that this is because of the New York Times’ authority. But with Buzzfeed recently announcing that it has raised $50m in funding, which it plans to spend on enhancing its news offering amongst other things, having also recently announced that it would be creating a new, separate app for its ‘hard news’, it will be interesting to see whether such authority remains the preserve of the old guard. You can already see pillars of traditional media companies striking out at what they view to be unworthy comparisons with digital peers but as analyst turned one-man publishing company Ben Thompson pointed out: • Mainstream media has long made the vast majority of its money on Buzzfeed-like content. Think the style section, real estate, entertainment, etc. The news sections provided legitimacy for the publication as a whole, but were money-losers on their own. • It turns out Buzzfeed is almost certainly exactly the same! Buzzfeed drives tremendous engagement for advertisers with their native advertising in particular, but Buzzfeed cannot charge rates anywhere close to, say,nytimes.com even if the actual content being advertised against isn't that different. It turns out that branding matters to advertisers as well. And so, the push to legitimize Buzzfeed. Where this leaves us all is still unclear, though we do know that someone needs to pay for this content, though we can’t agree in what form that payment should come. But it is this last example, that really makes the point – Ben Thompson hasn’t only been blogging for a few years, but I now choose to pay to receive the content he writes (it’s why you will need to subscribe to read the article that quotes are taken from). To me, it’s as valuable as the opinion and analysis to be found in the New York Times, AFR or Economist to name but a few. And what this really tells us is that the only people who will end up defining “what is news” are those who choose to read, watch or listen to it. Ciaran Norris is chief digital officer at Mindshare
- In this cross-posting from The Conversation Michael Cowling asks whether the recent controversy over the Facebook Messenger app shows people have reached the limit of what information they're willing to give away to companies. The recent furore about the Facebook Messenger app has unearthed an interesting question: how far are we willing to allow our privacy to be pushed for our social connections? In the case of the Facebook Messenger app, the answer appears to be: “Not as far as Facebook thinks.” For those who are not yet on Facebook (yes, there are some), the social media giant has been asking all users who want to continue sending messages to their Facebook friends on their mobile devices to download a Facebook Messenger app. Facebook is preparing to stop the chat feature on its main Facebook app. The Messenger app has been available for a while but only recently became compulsory. Uproar over app permissions Beyond the complaints about adding another app to the mix, the real controversy emerged when new downloaders discovered that the app, especially on Android, was asking for a whole raft of permissions. These included the ability to read your SMS messages, read your phone call log and access the photo roll on your device. This seeming intrusion into the privacy of users sent people into an uproar on the internet. An article from the Huffington Post on the dangers of Facebook app permissions went viral this month. There were plenty of follow-up articles on the situation from the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, famous rumour-debunking site Snopes.com and, ironically, statuses and rants shared ad infinitum on Facebook itself. Even now, the fallout continues, with many one-star reviews of the app appearing on the Apple app store. Articles continue to appear on many tech sites reassuring users that downloading the app does not give any more permission than many other apps (including the main Facebook app itself). Facebook tries to ease concerns For the record, Facebook maintains that it hasn’t done anything wrong and that the permissions that have been requested are standard practice for many apps, both theirs and those of others. Believe what you will, but of course this then raises the more interesting question: how far are we willing for our privacy to be pushed in this digital age? Remember that many of these complaints about the Messenger app are coming from the same cohort of people who regularly share details of their lives, such as photos and event invitations, on Facebook. Even as the social media platform changes and people get frustrated with how Facebook is controlling our lives, people continue to use the site as a social tool. Who reads privacy policies anyway? It’s clear that we want to have our cake and eat it too. A study from Carnegie Mellon University in the US suggested that if we were to read the privacy policies of every web service we use just once in a year, it would take a full month of our work time. Instead, we rely on blind trust and obscurity (“surely they don’t care about me”) to get through these situations. Perhaps this is why people are so upset with the Messenger app; it exposes terms that we all agreed to but would prefer to remain blissfully unaware of. Of course, some recent stories have come to light that suggest our fears aren’t totally unfounded. For instance, the revelation that Facebook conducted an experiment on the news feed of thousands of its users shows the company has no qualms about using our data. Or the more recent story by Wired of the journalist who committed to “Like” everything on Facebook for two days, only to find his friends slowly pushed out of his news feed and replaced with corporate sponsorship and left/right-wing political opinion. The true cost of connecting online These articles are beginning to show the dark side of social networking. A new movie by director Jason Reitman promises to do even more, showing how people are connected but also conflicted about their social life. The movie, Men, Women & Children, follows the digital life of several different participants as they navigate the digital world of the 21st century. So, what to do? The internet and social networking allow us to remain connected, but it comes at a price to our privacy, which some are apparently not willing to pay, or at least not willing to acknowledge. Perhaps the problem will solve itself, as digital native children replace their digital immigrant parents in the world of the 21st century, and our expected level of privacy changes. Or perhaps we will all tire of Facebook and social networking, move away form such platforms and no longer have this issue. But more likely one day somebody will realise that just as the industrial age needed regulation on roads and manufacturing, so too does the information age need regulation on the use of information. And when that day comes, perhaps we all need to stop relying on blind trust and take the time out of our year to read the new privacy legislation. Michael Cowling is senior lecturer and discipline leader of mobile computing and applications at Central Queensland University This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
- Instant messaging is the new digital battle ground. Daniel Young looks at what impact this battle might have for the traditional social networks. The social media landscape is changing, again, and the new players are demanding brands shift their mindset - from being human to getting personal. Mobile Instant Messaging (IM) apps like WeChat, Snapchat and LINE are growing fast. They’re platforms that facilitate real-time chat and content sharing and their adoption is outstripping the likes of Facebook and Twitter. And the new wave of social media is being led by a strategically important buyer demographic - teens and young adults - attracted to a natively mobile, private and personal way to freely communicate and share with friends. The IM players are evolving into genuine mobile platforms with rapidly growing user numbers that are a real threat to ‘traditional’ social networks hence Facebook’s proposed $19bn acquisition of WhatsApp, and its attempt to snag Snapchat. The competitive and financial risk for brands that have invested heavily in the social networks is that IM adoption will translate into a full-blown migration as the masses shift their allegiances to fresher and more personal technologies. So, how big is this trend? The numbers are staggering. According to Business Insider Intelligence, the four largest IM apps, combined, will soon pass the total user numbers of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn in terms of millions of monthly active users. Taco Bell, GE, FC Barcelona, Dunkin’ Donuts and MTV have already established a presence (or at least run campaigns) in the world of IM to complement existing social and content marketing plays. Established social networking models are changing. Facebook, for example, is losing its appeal among younger demographics (at least anecdotally) so we can expect many more brands to at least test if not transition, to the new kids on the block. It will be challenging. The race to keep connected with a fast moving demographic in the IM world presents some complex and challenging obstacles to marketers – at risk are billions of dollars in budgets chasing what have become moving targets. 1. It’s complex - There are more than 50 social messaging apps that have had more than a million downloads on Google Play. The leading players are WeChat (600m), WhatsApp (500m), LINE (400m), Viber and Facebook Messenger (both 200m), Kakao Talk (140m), Snapchat (100m) and Kik. More recent entrants include Tango, Fling, Whisper, Slingshot, Bolt, and Sobrr. This presents a challenge – which is the right platform for your brand? 2. It’s under researched The ‘which platform’ problem is compounded by the fact that IM is under researched. The private and distributed nature of the technology means that analytics are in short supply. Third party research is also sparse, which makes planning difficult. The established players are going to have to move very quickly to keep pace with the market shifts. 3. It requires another social mind shift for brands Social media has made brand communication more human but social networks still allow for an impersonal one-to-many approach echoing traditional ad supported media. IM services facilitate one-to-one or one-to-few messaging. Brands will need to be human and personal. This almost certainly will prompt changes to existing social media business models and services. It will be a matter of how quickly they can adapt. 4. There are few commonalities between services Social networks broadly follow a similar pattern – follow, post, comment and share. This is not the case with IM. Each platform brings its own nuance and functionality. There will be new IM apps entering the market, further fragmenting audiences while increasing the pressure on the “traditional” social media to innovate or recalibrate their offerings to find new and older audiences. 5. Not all IM platforms are brand ready WeChat and LINE are the most advanced platforms from a brand marketing perspective. Both companies provide Official Accounts and virtual products that brands pay to offer to their subscribers. WeChat has recently launched a self-service advertising platform. It is an exception. But competitors are likely to follow with their own versions in order to avoid being left in the slipstream of rapidly changing technologies. Here are a few suggestions if you’re a marketer looking to take yet another social leap. 1. Work with agency partners to assess the benefits of different IM platforms 2. Use existing social channels and offline research to learn about your customers’ IM usage 3. Learn from brands and influencers who are already present on your preferred platform 4. Involve multiple viewpoints and think creatively about your IM presence 5. Test and learn from different approaches to special offers, content, news, contests The social marketing movement is founded on the idea that consumers want to have relationships with brands. Perhaps the biggest take out for marketers when looking at the social trend towards IM is the insight that humans have relationships with other humans, not brands. Daniel Young is general manager of independent agency Brightpoint Digital.
- In the wake of the decision by retailer Woolworths to retain Carat as its media agency, Mumbrella's Nic Christensen asks if the much-maligned pitch for the $240m account is a case study in how clients should not treat their agencies. It's funny how history has a habit of repeating itself, but you'd like to think the marketing world would occasionally learn a trick or two. Some of the decisions in the process which led to the decision by Woolworths to keep its mammoth media account at Carat certainly make you wonder what goes through the minds of some clients when they pitch. The article to the right is from an edition of B&T several years ago, with the Advertiser Federation of Australia slamming Coles for running a pitch in the middle of its sale to Wesfarmers. There's a fairly simple lesson in the story. At a time of major corporate upheaval, don't pitch. Fast forward six or seven years and its Woolworths that this time at the centre of pitch "debacle", and while the names involved have changed, the issues around clients managing their processes better and treating agencies with respect are largely identical. Before I get into the pitch, let me start by saying I have no problem with the decision of Woolies to leave the business at Carat. That agency has worked hard and has clearly made a series of promises and a series of major leadership changes in an attempt to retain that business. However, the way the pitch has been handled has left a bad taste in the mouth of many of those involved. What began as a straightforward process in February and was supposed to be "over by Easter" rolled on and on for many months. There were changes to key decision makers, like the appointment in March of supermarkets CMO Tony Philips from Coles, with conspiracy theories suggesting he would award the contract for just a year. The pitch soon dissolved into an internecine internal political war between Phillips and the retailer's head of media Helen Lecopoulos, which left the industry as bystanders while the two sides argued over the result. A result where at the end of it, bar several hundred thousand dollars wasted by the agencies willing to step up and bid for the business, nothing materially changed. How did this happen? Well let's wind the clock back for a minute. Woolworths had been expected to pitch the media account since late last year. The first official confirmation that something was in the air was the appointment of Helen Lecopoulos, who departed McDonald’s for a new role as head of media. Three months later agencies were briefed and the pitch was formally called with the original line up seeing Carat and three others, OMD, MediaCom and Starcom Mediavest hoping to pick up the account. Starcom Mediavest would later pull out as it focused on the many other new business opportunities that were in the market in the first half of the year. The first curve ball arrived its March when it filtered out that Woolworths, one of the most demanding and all-consuming clients in town wanted to look at smaller "strategic agencies" with Match Media, Bohemia and Ikon originally on the list. This fitted with how Woolworths had been briefing agencies on how they wanted more "strategic leadership" on the media account. However, many in the industry questioned how a relationship with one of the big buying agencies and an independent providing additional strategic assistance (presumably on parts of the business) might work. Interestingly today's statement by Woolworths did not mention the appointment of an independent media agency. The second curve ball was the appointment of Phillips, which was the point many feel the pitch should have been called off by the client. The supermarket side of the business represents around half of the $240m media account, and while he was only one part of a voting panel in the process, Mumbrella understands Phillips strongly opposed any shift in media agency, arguing it should stay with Carat. As a side note this is the first time Carat has actually been handed the business, as it was previously won by sister Dentsu Aegis media agency Mitchell & Partners, and quietly transferred across after the retirement of patriarch Harold Mitchell last August. As a new CMO it is understandable that Phillips, who was also inheriting a brand new creative agency as Leo Burnett unexpectedly took over the account from Droga5, would be reluctant to have further changes as he bedded into the role. But it appears this position was at odds with Lecopoulos who is thought to have strongly favoured OMD, an agency she has worked with in the past at McDonald's and Telstra. Sources have described to me how there was "no love lost" between the two, particularly after The Australian, which rarely write about media pitches, ran a news story suggesting that the business would stay with Carat for one year, with Phillips wanting to later move the business to the IPG Mediabrands stable, which he has had a long relationship with as UM is the agency for Coles. Woolworths hastily issued a denial that there had been any change to the pitch, and said that the contract would be for three years, which has been borne out by today's announcements. However a number of sources have noted it includes a 30 day termination notice should Woolworths decide it is unhappy at any time. Since The Australian's article in May the last few months have seen the agencies, who did no less than four stages to pitch, waiting and waiting as Woolworths debated what it wanted to do. For many of the agencies involved the cost of the process is hundreds of thousands of dollars. While there was talk that Woolworths would compensate agencies for part of the cost, any such payment is likely to be largely token. In today's fragmented and complicated media and marketing environment clients need good agencies to do work for them and deliver good results. Implicit in that is respect for the agencies, and recognition that each agency has more than one client. I've criticised before the constant new business chase some media agencies are on, and they have to accept some responsibility. But there is also an onus on clients to recognise that when they pitch this puts a burden on agencies and often diverts major resources from existing clients. This means that the process should be fast, efficient and if there is major turmoil be it a sale, or a change of a key decision maker, then the process should be called off. Otherwise we're clearly learning nothing. Nic Christensen is deputy editor of Mumbrella.
- In this cross-posting from The Conversation science astronomer Michael J. I. Brown shares his experiences in debating with and challenging online trolls.
I often like to discuss science online and I’m also rather partial to topics that promote lively discussion, such as climate change, crime statistics and (perhaps surprisingly) the big bang. This inevitably brings out the trolls.
“Don’t feed the trolls” is sound advice, but I’ve ignored it on occasion – including on The Conversation and Twitter – and I’ve been rewarded. Not that I’ve changed the minds of any trolls, nor have I expected to.
But I have received an education in the tactics many trolls use. These tactics are common not just to trolls but to bloggers, journalists and politicians who attack science, from climate to cancer research.
Some techniques are comically simple. Emotionally charged, yet evidence free, accusations of scams, fraud and cover-ups are common. While they mostly lack credibility, such accusations may be effective at polarising debate and reducing understanding.
And I wish I had a dollar each time a scientifically incompetent ideologue claimed science is a religion. The chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, Maurice Newman, trotted out that old chestnut in The Australian last week. Australia’s Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, was less than impressed by Newman’s use of that tactic.
Unfortunately there are too many tactics to discuss in just one article (sorry Gish Gallop and Strawman), so I will focus on just a few that I’ve encountered online and in the media recently.
Internet trolls know who their experts are. There are thousands of professors scattered across academia, so it isn’t surprising that a few contrarians can be found. In online discussions I’ve been told of the contrarian views of “respected” professors from Harvard, MIT and Princeton.
Back in The Conversation’s early days I even copped abuse for not being at Princeton, by someone who was clearly unfamiliar with both science and my employment history. It was a useful lesson that vitriol is often disconnected from knowledge and expertise.
At times expert opinion is totally misrepresented, often with remarkable confidence.
Responding to one of my Conversation articles, the Australian Financial Review’s Mark Lawson distorted the findings of CSIRO’s John Church on sea levels.
Even after I confirmed with Church that Lawson had got the science wrong, Lawson wouldn’t back down.
Such distortions aren’t limited to online debates. In the Australian, Maurice Newman warned about imminent global cooling and cited Professor Mike Lockwood’s research as evidence.
But Lockwood himself stated last year that Solar variability this century may reduce warming by “between 0.06 and 0.1 degrees Celsius, a very small fraction of the warming we’re due to experience as a result of human activity”.
Newman’s claims were debunked, by his expert, before he even wrote his article.
Sometimes experts are quoted correctly, but they happen to disagree with the vast majority of their equally qualified (or more qualified) colleagues. How do the scientifically illiterate select this minority of experts?
I’ve asked trolls this question a few times and, funnily enough, they cannot provide good answers. To be blunt, they are choosing experts based on agreeable conclusions rather than scientific rigour, and this problem extends well beyond online debates.
Earlier this month, Senator Eric Abetz controversially seemed to link abortions with breast cancer on The Project.
While Abetz distanced himself from these claims, his media statement doesn’t dispute them and talks up the expertise of Dr Angela Lanfranchi, who does link abortions with breast cancer.
Abetz does not have expertise in medical research, so why did he give Dr Lanfranchi’s views similar or more weight than those of most doctors, including the Australian Medical Association’s president Brian Owler, who say there is no clear link between abortion and breast cancer?
If Abetz cannot evaluate the medical research data and methods, is his choice largely based on Dr Lanfranchi’s conclusions? Why won’t he accept the views of most medical professionals, who can evaluate the relevant evidence?
Abetz may be doctor shopping, not for a desired diagnosis or drug, but for an desired expert opinion. And just as doctor shopping can result in the wrong diagnosis, doctor shopping for opinions gives you misleading conclusions.
Often attacks on science employ logic so flawed that it would be laughable in everyday life. If I said my car was blue, and thus no cars are red, you would be unimpressed. And yet when non-experts discuss science, such flawed logic is often employed.
Carbon dioxide emissions are leading to rapid climate change now, and gradual natural climate change has also taken place over aeons. There’s no reason for natural and anthropogenic climate change to be mutually exclusive, and yet climate change deniers frequently use natural climate change in an attempt to disprove anthropogenic global warming.
Unfortunately our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, employed similar broken logic after the 2013 bushfires:
Australia has had fires and floods since the beginning of time. We’ve had much bigger floods and fires than the ones we’ve recently experienced. You can hardly say they were the result of anthropic [sic] global warming.Bushfires are a natural part of the Australian environment but that does not exclude climate change altering the frequency and intensity of those fires. Indeed, the Forest Fire Danger Index has been increasing across Australia since the 1970s. Why the Prime Minister would employ such flawed logic, and contradict scientific research, is puzzling. Galileo The Italian scientist and astronomer Galileo Galilei was infamously persecuted by the politically powerful Catholic Church because of his promotion of the sun-centred solar system. While Galileo suffered house arrest, his views ultimately triumphed because they were supported by observation, while the Church’s stance relied on theology. The Galileo Gambit is a debating technique that perverts this history to defend nonsense. Criticisms by the vast majority of scientists are equated with the opinions of 17th Century clergy, while a minority promoting pseudoscience are equated with Galileo. Ironically the Galileo Gambit is often employed by those who have no scientific expertise and strong ideological reasons for attacking science. And its use isn’t restricted to online debates. Bizarrely, even the politically powerful and well connected are partial to the Galileo Gambit. Maurice Newman (once again) rejects the consensus view of climate scientists and, when questioned on his rejection of the science, his (perhaps predictable) response was:
Well, Galileo was virtually on his own.Newman’s use of a tactic of trolls and cranks is worthy of criticism. The triumph of Galileo’s views were a result of his capacity to develop scientific ideas and test them via observation. Newman, and many of those who attack science, notably lack this ability. Michael J. I. Brown is an ARC Future Fellow and senior lecturer at Monash University This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
- Using big data to look at past trends is not the best way to work out what your customers want, argues Peter Swan of the UNSW Australia Business School in this cross-posting from The Conversation. A passer-by happens upon a drunk searching for a lost wallet under a streetlight. With nothing in plain sight, the passer-by asks “Where did you drop your wallet?”. “Over there,” gestures the drunk across the street, “but I’m looking here because this is where the light is.” We often look for answers in the easiest place and not necessarily where the answer is to be found. As marketing moves from subjective art toward objective, data-driven science, are we seeing the emergence of a streetlight effect? Are even the very best big-data driven practises guilty of asking the wrong questions of the wrong data? Wrong from the start Most companies turn to analytics when early growth starts to slow. The familiar refrain, “Let’s make better use of our existing data”, heralds the onset of maturity, This when the early days of triple and double-digit growth are well and truly past. Initial questions asked of big data are typically, “Who are our best customers?” and “Which products are most profitable?” It soon becomes clear that performance differs by region, season and a host of other factors. So, it’s not long before we want to know, “How do quarterly sales in region A compare with region B, on products X, Y, and Z?” Next comes propensity to respond (PTR) modelling, used to classify prospects for acquisition, cross sell, churn, or fraud. Where they exist, single customer views enable an entire family of PTR models used to determine next best actions. Competing marketing priorities soon warrant marketing mix modelling, to estimate the value of advertising spends across different channels. This naturally leads to attribution modelling, to estimate how each channel contributes to the final sale. The current holy grail of big-data driven marketing is to offer in real time the most likely product, at the most likely price, to the most likely customer, at the most likely time, via the most likely channel. The past doesn’t always help predict the future But does big data and analysis make sense in the first place? Like the drunk under the streetlight, have we been seduced into looking for the answers where it is easiest? Namely, in the data we gathered from past sales to previous customers. Is this relevant for understanding future sales to future customers? Nothing in the customer data gathered, or in the way it is presently being analysed, addresses the fundamental consumer desire. This to find the best available combination of price and product at the lowest search cost. All that segmenting and clustering and PTR scoring leaves our future consumers cold, stranded, outnumbered – feeling besieged and beset upon. Consumers are bounded rational humans optimised over generations for “fight or flight” and not for solving the multidimensional optimisation problem that is rational consumer choice. Tasked with buying a car, my siblings, with common genetic and environmental influences, will likely arrive at different consumption choices to mine. If those closest to me exhibit different preferences, then why are these “previous customer” strangers with no common nature or nurture to me being used to suggest products for me? Why model the choices of thousands of people I don’t know, and who don’t know me, in an effort to suggest products to me? No consumer identifies with the clusters or segments thrown up by maximum likelihood models. In fact this type of modelling belies the constant state of flux wrought by Adam Smith’s invisible hand, and writ large in every single consumption choice. It is a complex and rapidly changing world we inhabit with little known by these analytical models about a customer’s current preferences and circumstances. The circumstances of markets, like those of individuals, can change in an instant. Products sell out, forcing consumers to choose from what’s available or to wait. Products stagnate. Promotions and discounts alter the relative attractiveness of one product compared with another, stimulating sales of one and depressing sales of another. Individual finances wax and wane as personal circumstances alter. Each and every purchase decision is a moveable feast. Even simple choices become rapidly complicated. It is little wonder consumers throw their hands up and head for the safe harbour of brand, or convenience, or availability. Focus on ‘small data’ instead The data we should be analysing − small data − is product attributes and prices which change over time. This is the data consumers – your customers and your competitors’ customers – are using when choosing. To the extent of their ability, each consumer is assessing, comparing and evaluating the products and services on offer. These are bundles of attributes with their corresponding “shadow prices”. Trading this attribute off against that, trying to identify the best combination of attributes with their shadow prices to suit oneself. Taking into account one’s own dynamically altering preferences over the attributes and one’s own changeable circumstances. What you should be doing is maximising the “willingness to pay”, that is the “consumer surplus”, of your potential customers. They will then tend to choose your product in preference to that of your competitors, depending on the bundle of attributes provided by your product. Analysing customer data to minimise the error of estimation, isn’t helping your customers to solve their problems – it is proliferating them. The manifold combinations and permutations are adding to the burden, not lightening the load. Customers will pay you with their custom, for simply reducing their search costs. Faced as they are with overwhelming choice, customers want up-to-date, reliable, valid and trustworthy recommendations. These embody their own personal preferences and budgets, both of which are instantly available. A version of this article first appeared on BusinessThink. Peter Swan is a founder of Choice Engine and owns patent rights, and is a professor of finance at the UNSW Australia Business School. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
- This has been a bad week for the newspaper industry, says Mumbrella's Tim Burrowes
As far as Australian newspapers go, this has been a most disillusioning week. I love 'em - but jeez, they make it hard.
Take last Friday. That was when it emerged that a designer on News Corp's The Daily Telegraph had casually appropriated the image of a victim of a terrorist atrocity in order to poke fun at rival Fairfax columnist Mike Carlton.
[caption id="attachment_244270" align="alignright" width="100"] Disney: attacked[/caption]
Then there was the weekend, when News Corp's The Australian decided it didn't like the way self regulatory body The Australian Press Council (declaration of interest: we're a member) was handling a complaint, so ignored the procedures it had signed up to, breached confidentiality and declared it had no confidence in chairman Julian Disney. (That's the point of having an independent press watchdog, by the way: sometimes their decisions go against you.)
I know it can be easy to knock News Corp, or its individual papers. And like all big organisations, they're capable of good and bad. I've loved The Tele's campaigning stance on major issues like the western Sydney development (and I choose to buy it just about every day), and the half century presence of The Oz has added to serious national debate.
But I know not everybody sees it that way.
Every morning I pick up the papers from my local supermarket to read over coffee at my local hipster bakery before going to work. It's a favourite part of the day.
The attitude of the staff at that supermarket selling me those papers is informative about what the public (or at least those in my latte-sipping corner of the world) think. Twice now, when one of the staff has been training a colleague serving me, he's reminded them to congratulate customers who only buy Fairfax papers and berate those who buy News Corp titles. He's kind of joking - but he's not.
Now I must admit, at the moment it's a bit too easy to know where he's coming from. I spent the rest of the weekend reading the brilliant Nick Davies book Hack Attack about the phone hacking conspiracy at News Corp's News of the World in the UK.
It's so compelling, I found myself staying up til four in the morning to finish it.
Despite the fact that this was a single culture in a single newsroom, it's hard for the reader to like the company at the end of that book. Given the many good people News Corp employs, I'm sure I'll get over that feeling, but wow, that book makes the News of the World staff seem evil.
And Fairfax depresses me for other reasons.
I've just finished Ben Hills' book on Fairfax, Stop The Presses. I had thought that I didn't have it in me to read yet another book about the decline of a once great publisher. But Hills found new ways of telling an old but sad tale.
And indeed the best of Fairfax was on display at The Kennedy Awards last Friday night. This celebration of NSW journalism was rightly dominated by Adele Ferguson of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age with her brilliant investigation into the shitbags in Commonwealth Bank's financial planning team.
When it comes to the ethos of independent journalism, put me on Team Fairfax.
Yet Hills captured the contradiction in his book - often brilliant journalists let down by bad and self-interested management over the years. As they said about the British infantry in World War One, lions led by donkeys.
Which brings me to Monday morning.
Now, I live in the centre of Sydney. I'm as urban as it's possible to be.
Yet at this major supermarket in the centre of Sydney, there were no Fairfax newspapers. They simply hadn't been delivered.
The newsagent in the same shopping centre complex informed me they'd inexplicably received just one copy of Fairfax's Australian Financial Review that day, and it had already been sold. Some days they just don't arrive at all, he said. (To be honest, he didn't seem that bothered - the queue for lotto tickets was pretty healthy at the time.)
So here we have Australia's last best hope of keeping News Corp honest unable to do the one thing it's been in the business of for the last 173 years - reliably delivering its newspapers to places that sell it in the centre of Australia's biggest city.
On a Monday, the day the AFR and The Australian publish their media sections, this was frustrating.
It was also a depressing reminder of what life might be like when there's only one major newspaper publisher left.
Then I came to work, where EMMA - Enhanced Media Metrics Australia - had released its numbers. It marked the one year anniversary since this metric - commissioned and paid for by Australia's print publishers - launched.
And without a hint of a smile, the data was claiming that while print circulation might be down, readership was soaring.
Then on Tuesday came the turn of the measurement company which EMMA appears to have been set up to knock off - Roy Morgan Research. It tried to launch an eye-bleeding new metric claiming to link audience spend with individual magazine titles. It felt about as scientific as creationism.
But the biscuit was thoroughly taken on Thursday.
That was when Fairfax Media revealed its annual financial figures, which on the face of it showed some stabilisation.
The four top executives had been given big rises in their packages - about $2.4m. Bigger, according to the journalists' union, than the total amount offered to the 600 journos in the company's metropolitan newsrooms.
My colleague Nic Christensen asked Fairfax for a comment. Fairfax's spin consultant Sue Cato, who advised "no comment".
General counsel Gail Hambly (enjoying a total rise of $300,000, taking her up to a package of $1.063m) had her own views:
“Of course the aggressive response is that the increases are all incentive based- ie the management was prepared to back itself to achieve set targets- something the journalists are refusing to do. There were NO base pay increases.”We know this because Cato accidentally forwarded the email chain to The Australian. It's worth at this point examining what Hambly - along with CEO Greg Hywood; Allen Williams, MD of the Australian publishing media division and chief financial officer David Housego - are actually backing themselves on. The information is in the annual report. Turns out that all four of them have the same KPIs. And one of those KPIs is reducing cost. Which in large part has been achieved by firing journalists and photographers, and making printers redundant by shutting the presses at Tullamarine and Chullora. (Or "cost reduction targets" as the report more benignly puts it.) [caption id="attachment_244947" align="aligncenter" width="468"] Fairfax executive incentive plan | Source: ASX[/caption] In Hambly's case this directly makes up 10 per cent of her incentive. So, I guess she's $37,500 better off thanks in part to all that crying in the lift Ben Hills wrote about. I'm sure those people working for her will be delighted she backed herself. Luckily only five per cent of her incentive was made up of increasing the company's revenue. I see it actually fell below $2bn for the first time in many years. Lucky for her she didn't back herself more there. And luckily, all four still got some bonuses against revenue despite it going down. Incidentally, those cost savings were worth $144,000 to Hywood, $99,000 to Housego and $46,500 to Williams. That's without counting the additional dollars they got against their profit targets. [caption id="attachment_244951" align="aligncenter" width="468"] Fairfax executive incentive plan targets | Source: ASX[/caption] The observant reader of the report might also notice that the company has also just had its second worst profits result in the last five years. I'm not convinced that the turnaround is as complete as it tries to suggest. Funnily enough all the buzzwords about content marketing and building the events business in the previous report were barely covered this time around. [caption id="attachment_244955" align="aligncenter" width="468"] Source: ASX[/caption] Those staff mulling over how to react to their zero per cent pay rise offer may also like to reflect that the total pay for the top four rose by 58 per cent last year - from $4.1m to $6.5m. [caption id="attachment_244953" align="aligncenter" width="468"] Fairfax management remuneration | Source: ASX[/caption] Not by the way that I would claim myself able to do any better job. Hywood is playing the hand he has been dealt, with the board he has got, as well as anybody could reasonably be expected to. But the us-and-them nature of the "backing ourselves" comment points to a big divide between management and workers. Particularly when incentives are so skewed towards firing people. Which brings me to today. And the quarterly newspaper sales figures, released this morning. And to be honest, these make me feel sad rather than angry. Print sales are still going down across the board, and digital numbers are going up nowhere near fast enough to make up the shortfall. We get a bit more of of a picture from the fact that Fairfax revealed its paywall revenues yesterday - $24m. Given that The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are claiming digital subs of 255,000 across the two titles (and they won't say any more what afr.com.au gets) this suggests each subscription is worth less than $2 per week. That's not even a single edition of the paper. And the growth curves are far too flat to suggest this will improve fast enough to offset the print declines. Which is less than encouraging. In truth, I bought the papers as usual today, and I'll go on buying them tomorrow. There's still a lot to love about them - and the people who produce them. But when you find out what their bosses really think - and that "backing yourself" is hitting your bonus targets - it's really hard to like the people they work for.
- Tim Burrowes is content director of Mumbrella
- After the tragic news of Robin Williams' death after a struggle with depression Oli Shawyer shares the story of his battle with the black dog, and how talking about it helped him beat it. The news of Robin Williams rocked me to my core yesterday. I didn’t know the man personally but there is something so profoundly tragic about a comedian, someone whose job it is to make us laugh every day, suffering so intensely. To be fair, it’s a testament to how fucked up depression really is – that it can somewhat delude a man beloved by so many people, into deciding that he is better off dead. By now, you would know that Robin Williams has committed suicide. And whilst I could never do him the service justified, I’m not actually here to talk about him. I’m here to talk about depression and anxiety within our industry. Ultimately an industry in which success is based very much on the opinion of external audiences, incredible time pressures, almost unbearable workloads, and predominately extroverted social beings that have substantial reputations to uphold. An industry where we individually work so hard to constantly please so many others, whilst all at the same time forgetting about ourselves as we take constant hits to our confidence, our ability, our character. It’s incredibly difficult not to take it personally. So where is this going... I’ve been working in the industry for almost seven years and I was first diagnosed with severe depression and extremely severe anxiety approximately four years ago. It’s fair to say I was quite a mess and in desperate need for help. I used to sit on the train in to work crying as I stared out the window – trying to convince myself that everything was going to be ok – that I could get through the day. I used to look at everyone else through my sunglasses and wish I was them. They smiled. They laughed. They didn’t smile. They didn’t laugh. I didn’t care – I just figured they were better off than I was. I’d sit in work meetings and my mind would panic incessantly. To try and cope with the moment, I used to dig my fingers into my legs, my arms, my body – inciting enough pain to distract myself and avoid bursting into tears in front of everyone. This would happen every single day for weeks at a time. I felt as low as I think I could ever go. I just wanted to disappear. I didn’t know how to stop my mind from racing. I no longer had any control over my thoughts and I had somehow developed an ability to take a truly trivial topic, and in the same draw of breath, allow it to transform into a monster of self-destruction. From “Am I prepared for this meeting” to “these people in the meeting don’t like me” to “I don’t like me”. I refused to tell anyone what was going on, and in fact hid from everyone to avoid having to do so. I made a solid effort of destroying a number of personal and professional relationships and I’d done a pretty decent job of pretty much throwing away my future in advertising. It was also at this time that I literally ‘ran away’ from my new role at an established advertising agency, to check myself into the nearest GP. From there I was immediately referred to a psychologist and have since worked every day at beating every aspect of this debilitating illness. For so long I thought I was alone. I thought that I could handle this all by myself. It took me far too long to actively seek help because I was stubborn. I was naïve and I was so scared of what people would say. And that is exactly why I write today – to tell you, to remind you, to somewhat assure you. You are never alone. You don’t need to handle this by yourself. You don’t have to wait until it’s too late to get help. And most importantly – no one is ever going to judge you. Whilst everyone is different, having an ear to talk to is one of the most effective ways to work through this. Whilst there are a number of other incredible tools which I used through organisations such as Beyondblue, nothing worked better for me than educating myself, learning about it and talking to people about it. And I hope to continue doing so. If you think you have any of the symptoms of depression or anxiety, don’t keep it to yourself. Just as importantly, if one of your co-workers or friends may be struggling, let them know you’re there. Surely we all can’t be that busy that we can’t stop, drop everything and genuinely ask how they are doing. Embrace depression and anxiety and own it. Because the moment you do, is the moment you start learning how to deal with it, and the moment things get just a little bit easier. After all, “you’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” RIP Robin Williams. For help and support call BeyondBlue on 1300 22 46 36 or visit www.beyondblue.org.au Oli Shawyer is management partner at Behaviour Change Partners
- In this cross-posting from The Conversation Nicholas Sheppard of Victoria University explores what measures have so far been tried, and failed, to stop copyright infringement and piracy.
There’s been a bit of talk recently about getting internet service providers (ISPs) involved in the enforcement of copyright law. The federal Attorney-General and Minister for Communications recently released an Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper in the belief that "even where an ISP does not have a direct power to prevent a person from doing a particular infringing act, there still may be reasonable steps that can be taken by the ISP to discourage or reduce online copyright infringement".
Exactly what might be “reasonable steps” and how they might be funded are among the subjects up for discussion. Critics fear that it means turning ISPs into copyright police.
Before evaluating any new steps, it’s worth recalling digital copyright measures that have been implemented before – to see what worked, and what didn’t.
Software makers struggled with illegal copying of software long before the media industry came up against the internet. Beginning in the 1980s, software makers developed a variety of schemes seeking to prevent people from making copies of software without paying the original software maker.
By the 1990s, digital audio technology had progressed such that listeners were able to make high-quality copies of music. Like the software industry before it, the music industry turned to technology that sought to prevent CDs being used with copying devices.
Since CDs were not originally designed to prevent copying, most schemes violated the original CD specification in some way. This meant that copy-protected CDs could be unreliable and even damaging.
In the most infamous case, Sony’s Extended Copy Protection system was found to install a “rootkit” – a hidden piece of software usually associated with viruses – on computers.
A digital watermark is a signal inserted into a media file that cannot be heard or seen by humans, but can be recovered by a computer.
Watermarks were supposed to prevent or deter copyright infringement in various ways, but the nearest they came to commercial implementation was through the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI).
SDMI went on hiatus in 2001, citing a lack of agreement on the suitability of the available technologies. Watermarking technology probably just didn’t work well enough: watermarks were either too easy to remove, or too audible to listeners.
Digital rights management
Digital rights management (DRM) schemes allow sellers of media files to associate those files with a licence, which sets out what the buyer can and can’t do with their purchases. In principle, DRM schemes have several advantages over simply dictating to users that they shall not make copies:
- sellers can implement business models that aren’t based on the old sell-one-copy model. It is possible to write licences that support subscription models, freemium models, viral models and others
- licences can permit certain legitimate uses of copying, such as copying a file from a media collection to a portable player
- media players could be built to support licensing from the ground up instead of trying to retrofit an existing technology.
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