Trend detection: there can only be two?

You can play with Twitter data all day and come up with all sorts of interesting conclusions.   As a social scientist, it is Pandora’s box.  Free research to an extent you couldn’t even dream about a decade ago.   But of course it is just Twitter.  Mainly U.S. and well….just Twitter.

Compare that to the amount of data Google has in order to detect trends.   Gazillions of web searches.   Gmail.   Google Maps.   And anything going on within at least half the smart phones in the world.  That’s more like it!  Other’s try and guess who your friends are, hell, Google knows if they are in your phone list and if you emailed them today.   You don’t need a particularly smart algorythm to figure out what stock to buy, which songs are on the rise, or which companies are doing a good job.    Google kindly gives us back some information on trends.  It is badly crippled of course, randomized or normalized or generally scrutinized to make sure it isn’t commercially usable .  And it is not quite real time of course.  More like a promotional vehicle.

Google knows what you are thinking.   Not because of some “1984” like surveillance scheme but because that amount and variety of data they have can bring pretty accurate results.   We know that they sell this know how, but it isn’t an official product.   Which I guess makes it illegal.   Maybe Edward Snowden will illuminate us on this topic, though it is secondary.

And where is Apple?   Maybe the only other company with a pretty complete understanding of the behaviour of a big chunk of people.   They don’t even give us any data.  They announce no initiative to use this data to make better products for their customers.  They just sit on the lid, like they sit on their cash pile.

With the amount of data flying around the internet, many other companies will come up with pretty accurate correllations between indicators sooner or later though.   It won’t be as complete as Google and it won’t be as tidy as Apple’s data.

But it will work.



Pimms, NewMediaAgencies and the Catch 22 in the world of advertising

There are two kinds of companies:   the ones that do multiple long meetings and the ones that don’t.   Advertising companies always specialized in the former.   The inspired me to start writing a book entitled “The ‘who gives a s**t?’ management analysis manual.”   I need a catchier title and the book is still at chapter 3.

As a consultant, you either meet the decision maker or not.   In media, the difference is enormous.  Two hours with a junior marketing person just to get the concept through.  Then, if you’re lucky and they aren’t too scared, you get another meeting with their superior.   Now you have to convince them that they will look good if they play along.   If all goes well, ie your idea is fantastic, they will organize yet another meeting where “the head of marketing might drop in”.   The Head of Marketing, didn’t get that title (or whatever different title they use to describe the job, depending on country and company) by being easy.    They pretend to be tough as nails, no matter how much they like the idea.   They make sure they take the idea, you have no guarantees and they do with it as they wish.    Whenever they feel is convenient for their current carreer path.

You get the idea.   And yes, it can get even more complicated.   The point is that the organization is wasting time, my time and theirs, and we often don’t get anywhere.   Because if there is a person on the top floor who gives a s**t, none of this usually gets as far as the top floor.

Enter the advertising agency.   They do useless meetings all the time with these same people.   They stay up late together pretending to work late when they need to.   They did the XYZ success story 1,2 or 5 years ago for this customer.  I can go on bashing advertising agencies ad nauseum.  Because they deserve it and because it is fun.   But it isn’t getting us anywhere.

New Media Digital Agencies are meant to be the answer.  They are leaner.  Faster.  More responsive.   Basically, they are cheaper.   Are they better?   Well, some of them understand Social Media a bit better than some big old ad agencies.   Some have bright ideas occasionally.   Some of them might have a more clear focus originally, usually from one of their founders.   And what do they do?   They act like the old agencies!   They try and do everything.   And they sit through those same old boring and pointless meetings.   Essentially, they are turning themselves into the big agencies they make fun of.   Catch 22.


It’s time to give a s**t.   It’s time for general managers to get directly involved in communication more.  And it’s about time I wrote that book.   Maybe I will do it the next time I cancel  a large account that is asking for yet another meeting…


PS  Pimms is in the title because a rather bad social media effort in one of it’s campaigns is what started this particular train of thought today.