Hairdressing and Advertising …

I remember reading something somewhere (how is that for a citation …) that compared the advertising industry to the hairdressing industry. Obsessed with youth, obsessed with trends, and obsessed with meaningless awards.

I didn’t really agree with this but I got me thinking that there are many similarities between the two, not in a negative sense. Why did I think about this? Well … I am moving from Sydney to Melbourne and I was wondering who would cut my hair when I get there (yes, focusing on the big issues … I have curly hair and a challenging hairline so a good hairdresser is important to maintain the public illusion of basic presentability)

It’s easy to find a competent hairdresser. They’re everywhere. But a good hairdresser – very hard to find, and often hard to get an appointment.

Like agencies. There’s plenty of okay agencies in media and creative. Loads. More than a country our size could need. But there’s only a select amount of great ones.

Anyway – the ad world and the hairdressing world have a few striking similarities. Here’s the ones I think are most relevant. Yes, this is a bit light hearted and does make me think I really need a haircut, but there’s also some truth in it.

They are defined and differentiated by great people. The name on the door means nothing without great people within the business, on the floor, interacting and servicing clients. You gravitate to people you like and trust. You want to work with people you feel have your interests at heart. Relationships are important.

You’re only as good as your last job. You can’t be complacent and you need to realise you are always judged on your last project. 8 years of great service can be ruined with 2 bad projects.

Cost isn’t that important if the value is clear. Cost only becomes an issue when you don’t feel you are getting the service you deserve.

You can make solid revenue selling ancillary products. But you need to be careful you don’t lose focus on your core and obsess about incremental revenue

Good client direction is key. If you don’t tell the hairdresser what you want chances are you will get a lousy haircut. It’s the same with a campaign. Neither practicioner has ESP.

Don’t overextend your welcome. You wouldn’t see a hairdresser go into the tax advice world – despite the fact all their clients probably file tax returns. It’s the same with agencies who want to be everything to their clients (Yes sure, we can try to advise you on supply chain logistics). Just because you can offer something doesn’t mean you should

Your work is always on show. A crappy haircut exists for everyone to see (trust me …) … so does a crappy campaign and a crappy media buy. And people have a knack for remembering the bad.

It is assumed you can provide the basics. A hairdresser shouldn’t need to rollout their training and creds everytime they see a client. Neither should an agency. There’s a certain level of skill that is implied.

Ok I’m off to book a haircut. I can recommend Piet at Wildfire in Surry Hills if anyone is needing a trim.

What’s worse? Media consolidation or too many outlets reporting the same thing?

There has been a lot of discussion of late around the consolidation of media ownership and its implications for ‘free press’ in Australia and the rest of the world. News Limited looking to increase its stake in Foxtel and FoxSports is the most current example of this.

However right now I think that in many ways we have far too much media, too much media that effectively report on the same things, taken from the same sources, published at the same time.

There is no doubt media consolidation will most probably irreversibly damage true investigative reporting, given that pageview driven investment will make investigative, or any long form reporting, seem like a negative ROI outcome. However the same pageview dominated approach has resulted in too many media outlets effectively reporting the same thing.

My feeling is it sort of works like this. There are probably 5 credible outlets in each category that truly break news, influence opinion and set the agenda. And this is globally. Across most things people are interested in – ie, rock music, world news, movies, gossip, dance music, entertainment, business, finance, advertising, technology, fashion, basketball, AFL, NFL, EPL, cycling etc etc.

Then there are about 300 hanger-on publications that exist to effectively re-report the news and views published on these 2-3 sites. This is either done by wire companies re-reporting and selling the summaries, or its by writers/editors sitting on twitter and waiting to cut and paste.

You see evidence of this all the time. Pitchfork will report something about a hyped band. 30 mins later 30 other publications have reported the same thing. 2 hours later 100 have. A day later everyone has. It’s the same with business – the WSJ will report a proposed deal … then 30 mins later the article is paraphrased and published. It keeps going and going. Ultimately the winner is the site with the best SEO.

It means information moves quickly. Even fake info. A few months back Mess&Noise made a story up about Jet releasing a best of which acknowledged the Pitchfork review of their second album on the cover, complete with mocked up fake Amazon listing. Within about 30 mins another Australian music site had reported it, citing the same Amazon page. Problem was the story was complete bullshit.

Anyway – a competitive media ownership landscape is really only good for everyone if it creates diversity. If everyone is reporting the same stuff, wouldn’t it just be easier to consolidate these 300 odd music sites into 2-3? Or these 100 business/finance sites into 4 or 5? Do we really need 1,000 different websites reporting on Kim Kardashian’s Twitter feed … or do we just need the Twitter feed?

In most of these cases we are oversupplied, and advertisers and users would benefit by consolidation. Advertisers would have access to a larger audience and less transaction points, and users would benefit from more successful media companies who could invest more into content creation.

Right now, media is so competitive it is becoming hard for anyone to really invest in content beyond what they’re doing. All that is creating is more of the same, more cheap content driven by reporting others quickly. Much of the money that could be going into creating content is going into SEO to index the content.

Right now media is over supplied. Especially online. We have too much choice but too little quality. Imagine what would happen if the publications that really broke news and drove discussion managed to see the majority of traffic their work created, instead of bottom feeders re-reporting them and taking the SEO juice?  I’d imagine we’d see overall an improvement in quality and ultimately more choice.

Fantastic Delites – A PR fail worth a mention

Woke up to this email from a kind reader who had a video to share with me. Something crazy had happened and he just happened to be in the crowd and wanted me to be across it. Amazing!

I clicked the link and it takes me to a “viral video” for Fantastic Delites snacks. Hrm okay. The video is neither hilarious nor do I really think most people would enjoy it enough to sit through it. 

Weirdly it was sent to my work email – of which there is no mention on this blog.

Email below. Surely there has to be better ways of promoting these ‘viral videos’ than this … try harder guys.


I’ve been visiting Talking Digital for a few months now and really like it! I’m reaching out to you because of a video on youtube that I thought your other readers may enjoy. It’s a video of a crazy vending machine put in a mall in Australia that gets people to do hilarious things in order to get a snack for free.

The neat part of this story is I actually am in the crowd in part of the clip, so I’m pretty excited about it all! It was pretty crazy I happened upon a big group of people surrounding the machine and random dancing haha.

The video can be viewed here:

Hope you post,
Name removed

Well mate, you got your wish. I did post it.


Herald Sun Supercoach – a revenue trade off?

Those who know me well know that I am a bit of a tragic for Herald Sun’s AFL Supercoach. It hooks me in every year and since 2007 I have put together a team. When I was at Mindshare Melbourne we put together a league, and despite many of us moving into different roles the Mindshare league remains a pretty competitive one. My best effort was making the preliminary finals once (I think it was 2009).

Anyway – this isn’t about my Supercoach team. But it did inspire this post.

My team, Shepherd’s Pies, is currently 11th in the Mindshare league. 5 wins. 5 losses. Not bad, not great. The thing with Supercoach is it plays to 3 areas of weakness. 1/ Footy. The more the better for me. 2/ Competition. I want to win, I want the bragging rights. 3/ Sports analysis. Some of us like to read stats and pretend we’re football analysts.

Placing 11th doesn’t sit well with me. This season each player (of which there are over 330,000) gets 24 trades for their teams. These 24 trades need to last 24 rounds. Trades are the most valuable commodity in Supercoach and the strategy around trading is generally what separates medicore from great.

At round 12 I have 3 trades left. 12 more rounds of footy left and I have 3 trades to last me. It’s a disaster. But it got me thinking. I am surely not the only guy in this situation. Actually … I’d say there are probably another 150,000 people in a similar situation staring down the barrel of another poor season.

So … I was thinking. Imagine I could buy trades? Imagine the Herald Sun allowed me to buy a maximum of 4 trades per season at a cost of, say … $50 a trade.

Would I hand over the money?

Right now, yes. I’m in 11th place, 1 game out of the finals and 4 extra trades could be the difference between glory and shame. The Commercial Director in me thought – “someone like me could be worth an untapped extra $200 per year for the Herald Sun.”

My feeling is that, of the 330,000 odd Supercoach players, approximately 65,000 are passionate about it, or 20% of the competition. My gut tells me these 65,000 people would consider buying a trade if they could.

Let’s say 20,000 of them bought just 1 trade at $50 per trade … this would generate incremental revenue to the Herald Sun of $1m PA.

If 20,000 bought the 4 trades, that could generate $4m PA.

Not a bad result for putting a bit of extra code and some transaction capabilities on the Supercoach site.

$50 for me is an amount that feels right. You need to have invested significant time and effort into your team to consider a $50 cost to buy a trade. If it was $5 my feeling is most people would do it and it would impact the game. But $50 provides a barrier, but is also something you would consider if you’d spent, say 10-20 hours over the year carefully managing your Supercoach team.

Is it in the spirit of the game? Hard to say. But many online games adopt similar strategies where the user has to pay for an advantage. Perhaps it would add to Supercoach, making it an even more accurate representation of professional sport?

Extra revenue PA of $1m+ is something no business wouldn’t look at especially within minimal costs incurred. Even News Ltd.

Why doesn’t Twitter have local AU advertising sales?

For the past 12 months, Twitter’s Australian usage has remained around 2m people per month. That’s 2m people – not 2m unique browsers – and that’s consistent (plus or minus 5% either way) since mid 2011 (according to Nielsen).

And the user engagement is decent. 6+ visits per month, almost 30 mins spent on the site per month. (source, again Nielsen)

Add mobile traffic and the third party clients (Hootsuite etc) and the number is probably closer to 2.5m, maybe 3m.

So … here is this platform doing very solid, consistent numbers in Australia. It has a lot of data on its users and even now still has a tonne of hype. Combine that with its relatively sluggish US revenue (in comparison to its current valuation) and Australia’s relatively high yield when it comes to digital advertising (far higher than the US and the majority of Europe) and it’s odd that Twitter hasn’t done what Facebook has done in Australia and set up a sales only office. Continue reading

Talking Digital Q&A #11: Alan Kohler

You normally see Alan Kohler on the news. He has been a staple on the ABC’s 7pm bulletin for years, giving over 1m Australian’s their finance and business info every weeknight. He’s also on Inside Business every Sunday and has been the pre-eminent business journalist in Australia for the better part of the last 4 decades – via the AFR, The Age, SMH and on his own Business Spectator publication.

Lately, Kohler has been making the news. Reports of Fairfax and News jostling for acquisition of the Kohler led AIBM have been coming thick and fast. This week, it’s News that’s being reported to be in the lead at a rumoured $30m+ valuation. Continue reading

Talking Digital Q&A #10: Simon Joyce, CEO MCM Entertainment Group. “Content remains king and technology is now queen”

2012 has been a strong year for MCM. It has enjoyed solid growth across its core take40 and HotHits properties, and earlier this year added VEVO to its portfolio for the Australian market. These digital assets, combined with MCM’s radio properties (such as My Generation) and digital platform services (such as Movideo and Igloo), place MCM in a unique position in terms of possessing cross platform media products with national footprint both in broadcast and digital.

Talking Digital spoke to MCM Entertainment CEO Simon Joyce about where business is heading for the group.

TD: MCM has made some of the larger financial committments to online video of any of the media companies in Australia over the past 5 years … would you say the development of the video space revenue wise has been slower than anticipated for all of us, and where do you see the next 3-5 years going? Continue reading