Not so long ago, a special birthday took place. On the 6th of August 2011, the Internet celebrated 20 years of life. It could be argued that the Internet has changed everyone’s life, in one way or another. The benefits of the Internet are endless, and when you consider the countless number of businesses that have thrived online, the explosion of social networking and the huge number of news stories that came to life online before anywhere else, it’s easy to want to join in with the birthday celebrations.

Despite this, there is a more sinister side to the online world. In his recent book, the Shallows, Nicholas Carr urges caution to all who now consume online media on a daily basis. Carr argues that each media we consume has a more powerful impact on us than we think. Drawing on philosophy and neuroscience, Carr argues that the media we consume are so powerful, that they actually affect how our brains are wired.

Any neuroscientist will tell you that the brain is changing on a continual basis, adapting to our environment, so that we can go about our daily lives in the most efficient way possible. Everything we do has an effect – this is known as learning. Books, for example, not only tell stories, but also enable focused attention which encourages creativity through deeper thinking. The Internet, on the other hand, has a much different effect. Because of the ease of moving between sites and the endless amount of information available, the Internet is bringing about a loss of concentration and focus. Carr suggests that the Internet is making us think less.

I’m not so sure. I’d certainly doubt anyone working in media would argue that the Internet is making them think less. The seemingly endless number of ways to advertise online need to be given careful thought and consideration before a campaign is planned. The ways of reaching your target audience are vast, and include demographic, contextual and behavioural opportunities. Advertising online is transparent and accountable, so there are numerous ways of assessing how effective an online campaign is. This requires not only time, but also thought, and perhaps surprisingly, a level of creativity.

Beyond advertising, I’m not convinced that the Internet is making us lazy. In a previous post, the idea of the ‘cognitive surplus’ was discussed. People are no longer passively consuming media, but are interacting with brands and with others through opportunities provided online.

Books are still being read, TV is still being watched. The Internet plays a big role in all of our lives, and perhaps our brains are just finding a way of using it best.


Deal or No Deal

August 23, 2011

Like many people I get my daily delivery of City, Living Social and Groupon deals into my inbox, initially it was a thrill to see what I, the a-typical post-recession consumer could get at a 50-90% discount, however now, having had a few too many bad experiences I tend to err on the side of caution and my enthusiasm has slightly waned for these deals, all too often I skim and delete, unless somebody recommends or steers me back to the deal.

Recently my sister told me to get in quick, that I had an hour left to buy a fantastic deal on offer from the reputable online grocer, Chefs Garden Direct, a luxury hamper of goodies, at least a week’s shopping for €42, I succumbed to the deal but was slightly worried given that over 2,500 in Dublin had done the same thing.

I ‘m not writing this to complain or defamate any company but more to highlight what happened next…..CGD website went “off air”, their Facebook page closed down, as did their Twitter. After a few days the CBD website redirected to a single page saying that they were   desperately sorry that they had been mislead by Groupon and massacred with orders that they were struggling to find the capital to source all orders. However, in the meantime- the damage to the brand had already begun, social media has democratised society and given us a platform to speak which never existed before. Boards has a tirade of abuse from dis-satisfied Groupon customers, likewise when CBDs Facebook page reopened the circus that unravelled there was like a live episode of Eastenders. The spiteful comments got so out of hand that that many were deleted and blocked from the FB page, meanwhile on boards the board’s moderator had to be brought into control that page.

Looking at all this from a media perspective, one can’t help but feel that for many brands investing money in a traditional or more controlled environment may reap better results. Whilst the strategy behind Groupon is  “buzz” and gaining immediate exposure it does not  necessarily mean repeat customers. A media campaign  can be target specific, attract & target the customers that will give the business long term benefits and come back for more, not simply the “one deal wonders”. On another level, the staggering of media activity allows peaks and troughs in the business, which for the likes of retail/local/small businesses is extremely important allowing the necessary balance between man power and product. Such was the overwhelming response to the deal that CBD couldn’t cope with the level of orders, let alone their regular loyal customers. Lastly, essentially what we aim to with a brand is build them and define them, one has to wonder, is a brand  in danger of diluting  itself by associating  with hefty discounts in the region of 50-90%

Whilst, the proprietors of CGD perhaps should  have known the full extent of what they were committing to, one can’t help but have sympathy for a genuine local business who have established themselves in such a tough media environment. I genuinely hope that they come out the right side of this deal- and I’m willing to wait for my delivery!




Everybody Knows

August 15, 2011

So they’ve taken to the streets of London. Commentators across the world have been arguing the whys and why fors. The rage, the anger, what Marlon Brando called ‘the horror’ in Apocalypse Now.

To me it has brought to mind the Leonard Cohen song Everybody Knows:

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

It’s an age old problem of the haves and the have nots, and one that you could argue is ingrained into every day advertising services: the who, what, where and when of a Louis Vutton campaign is at a marked contrast to the standard Iceland campaign. Marketing speak of ABC1’s and C2DE’s are everyday conversations. Somewhere in all the communication clutter there is an ethical line between selling people what they want to reinforcing stereotypes and suppressing the less privileged (and yes I know advertising is only a small piece of a much larger jigsaw).

More and more, the power of the media is taking a central role in this broader debate. On the 3rd October 1951 Bobby Thomson hit a home run for the New York Giants that the Americans dubbed with typical understatement as the “Shot Heard ’round the World”. But you get the point, a cultural moment that transcends the ordinary and through the power of media (nascent TV and radio) resonated with a far broader audience. This power of media can often and often has been used for greater good as Bob Geldof showed the world back in the ‘80’s. Now here we are in 2011 and the role of media seems to be evolving into murkier, more sinister waters. The recent News of the World scandal and subsequent downfall showed that not everyone walks the ethical line with the same care and attention. In London, following on in the footsteps of Egypt and some other middle eastern countries, social media tools are the centre of attention: half purveyors of content, half deadly weapons. We didn’t need to be told but my word, these are powerful communications tools. So media has as crucial and as central a part in the shaping of cultural direction as it ever did in the 50’s and 80’s. Exciting time to be working in media. Look out for that ethical line.






6 years is a long time on the internet.

YouTube now gets 2 billion hits per day, and its growth has been a huge part of Google’s success in the past few years. They’re now monetizing more than 2 billion video views per week, and 70% of their traffic comes from outside the U.S. The future is bright; it’s the most viewed mobile website with 7.1 million unique views per month, and its now the world’s second largest search engine too.

Advertising on YouTube has evolved massively since it launched its first ad concept in 2006, and the quality of the current offering is being recognised by advertisers; 94 of Adage’s top 100 advertisers are advertising with YouTube.

Check out this infographic which tracks the life of YouTube so far:



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