On comms design

communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.


New things happening

Some new things happening or about to happen:

1. I have succumbed to the general feeling and will be moving this blog to Wordpress although the first interaction with WP was a but scary - stay tuned for that

2. I have been on the hunt for new blogs of interest and... well, remember the times when I was complaining about no niche blogs ever showing up that were interesting. Well, I don't think they are new but I really like:
a. Shopping stories - fun filled stories about how it feels to be a shopper in Romania. Always wanted to write one of those and think that maybe the guys at this one should accept collaborations from all over the country.
b. Gentlemen. Dosar de stil masculin - which is a guide to male style covering the much needed basic of being a well dressed man in this country. I particularly like the URL - domni de Romania - you can't really find a lot of those around these days
c. Daily Cotcodac - which we all know and which got lots of awards and stuff and whose only fault I can find is that sometimes it shamelessly links to stories in blogs of friends which are not all that interesting :D

3. I have come accross at least two awesome ways in which the idea of newspaper is made to live on online.
- one is paper.li where I adeptly made this: Bogdana's own daily
- the other one is the more intricate and beautifully built NewspaperClub here, where you can make your very one newspaper - British style and even print it. And there is an endearing story behind the name of the engine which makes the paper: ARTHR :D

more to come...


True about social media

"And that Nike World Cup video (here) is not going to help.
With its millions of viral views, brand managers and creative directors worldwide are going to be viewing it as the gold standard.
Which is a huge mistake.
You see Nike is a Prom King brand. A brand people like because Nike’s discovered the secret sauce that makes people view them as “cool.” So they’ll want to pass around a Nike video because they get some sort of cool points for doing so.
Add the World Cup to that equation. Another Prom King brand, and, for anyone who remotely likes soccer, another source of cool. Factor in too the fact that the young male demo likes to share video, particularly video from brands that have a strong cool factor and you’ve got the perfect storm.
Which is not to take anything away from the actual video, which was exceedingly well done, but reality check: even a really bad Nike World Cup video would have gotten millions of hits. Having a really well done one probably doubled or even tripled what was destined to be a very large number.
The bigger problem, as I stated earlier, is that brands are going to start wanting “something like that Nike World Cup video... you know, the one with Homer Simpson in it.... it got 90 million viral hits.”
It’s the same speech an earlier generation of marketing and ad people got about the Apple 1984 spot.
But if you’re advertising corn chips or diapers or a cellphone service, you’re never going to get a Nike World Cup video. You’re just not cool enough. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing."

from here


The hardest year of my life

I turn 31 today and this past year has been, by far, the most difficult one I have ever had. I am a workaholic, so most of my joys and disappointments are generally related to my work. This past year has been a landmark for me professionally and as a human being.

A while back I said yes to a position I thought was the ultimate challenge in my career. I had never done management before and when I took it on - running a small agency I mean - I thought that it would be a piece of cake, especially since I seemed to be surrounded by a lot of people trying to help, and had a well of enthusiasm boiling inside of me, mainly generated by the novelty of the situation.

All this was happening in 2008, October, just as the financial crash came tumbling over Eastern Europe and made everything different. I was 30, I had never been in charge of anything other than my strategy presentations and my power point slides and my own flat and car. All of which I seemed to manage satisfactorily.

Being a manager has changed everything I though I knew and everything I though I knew about myself. I used to think that I was able to muster up endless resources of energy to finish up everything. I used to think that if something was not being done I could do it myself. I used to think that I could be very good at almost anything. Having to manage a team of people, revenue, salaries, clients, strategies sometimes gets pretty overwhelming and it took me a while to realize that some of the things I knew didn't really apply. The one constant realization is that dealing with failure is the most important skill one can develop in order to progress. Strangely enough though, I don't feel like writing I have learned a lot about teamwork and people skills and client management. I think all I knew about that before I became this new person largely still applies.

But I turn 31 today and if there is anything I have learned is that nothing works unless you keep it simple and have fun with it; and that the hardest thing to do is always, but always, remember that it will not work unless you stick by the two things said before.

So what I wish for myself this day is to always remember to not complicate things and have fun with whatever I am doing. Because only then, it all seems to work out fine.


Speaking about the Ro Internet user

I'll try to do a bit of that as part of Orange Online Meet-up. This coming Monday. As said here, with Orlando Nicoara and Ionut Oprea.

I want to watch


Digital changes gears

In my previous post I wrote about an editorial I had published today in which I was pondering on whether brand managers, and the fact that they largely seem ignorant of online has something to do with things other than stupidity, lack of interest etc etc. I said there may be some redemption in the thought that they actually have to deal with something they are not being actively trained for and that may take more of their time than they can afford to devote to a new medium.

I actually got to thinking about this while reading an interesting article about the take-over and integration of Businessweek into Bloomberg. What struck me was this particular paragraph:

"The rigid culture [Bloomberg's] extends to the work environment. News meetings are held at 7:30 a.m. Every writer has a “dashboard” where the metrics determining his compensation — any scoops, hits an article attracts — are tracked."

This feels very much like something we have to deal with now since online has become a priority. No longer are weekends safe or even workdays quiet after the TV beta tapes have been handed in. You need to track and monitor 24/7. Changes can be made in real time, everything is beta. No wonder then that everyone is under pressure, unable to catch up.

The article goes on:
"Employees swipe ID cards to enter and leave the building, and when an employee sends an internal e-mail message, the last time he clocked in or out appears next to his name. If he forgets his ID, “Forgotten Badge” appears next to every e-mail message he sends to co-workers that day — a tough fit for magazine journalists lucky to remember their wallets, let alone their building IDs."

So maybe we should all have a bit of understanding for this immense change we are going through :D
full article here

Al doilea editorial pe Digital IQads

este aici. l-am scris dupa ce m-am gandit mult si bine la frustrarea pe care o simtim fata de oamenii din marketing care "nu inteleg" online. Am incercat sa imi dau seama cum se vede povestea de pe partea cealalta a baricadei si daca nu cumva aceasta lipsa de "intelegere" tine de chestiuni mult mai practice gen lipsa de timp, lipsa de motivare la locul de munca etc etc.
mi-e greu sa cred ca ignoranta unor oameni este generata exclusiv de rea vointa. si in plus, lucrand cu clienti cum este L'Oreal sau Coca-Cola, am avut ocazia sa vad cat de benefica este prezenta unui brand manager dedicat activitatilor online.
Cred ca inceperea discutiei referitoare la nevoia de oameni specializati in cadrul departamentelor de marketing nu este una prematura acum si oricum, la cat de greu misca lucrurile la noi in tara, probabil ca o discutie acum se va materializa in ceva peste 5 ani. :D


Interesting read

Reviewed as "The main body of the book draws out all of the most cherished literary devices in writing and reexamines them for use in the short form. Dom urges writers to spend more time distilling the essence of meaning and emotion from their thoughts. Select tweets are used as examples, showing wonderful invocations of irony, sarcasm, suspense, awe, and humor. The mechanics of poetry are even explored in detail, with suggestions on how they can be applied to the short form." here

Facebook credits - the social network is trying for an economy of its own

If you're a non-gamer like me you will probably not have heard about FB credits, a form of in-network payment which lets you purchase virtual goods for the FB games and apps you like to interact with.
It seems that this system has been on for a while but it is so slim in spreading out that FB have recently had to consider a whole "promotional" program to get the ball rolling.

As I understand, in a nutshell, the way the credits worked was were much similar to what you would get if you signed up for Second Life about 4 years ago. At that time any new account used to get free land and some Linden Dollars to stimulate purchase of virtual goods. In very much the same fashion, if you're a FB user with a lot of games to play you could purchase FB credits with your credit card and then use them to get game add-ons or perks like cheats or extra energy or stuff like that. So, actually, FB was a financial intermediary between the app/game developers and yourself. [more on what you can use credits for here]

However, it seems that the credit craze has not caught on because recently FB announced some promotional stuff coming users' way in the line of credits. They will be giving out credits to get people used to using them and also allowing people to gain credits by simple on-network actions so without actually using credit card money to pay for the credits [read more here].

It seems to me like the next logical step: FB might have imagined that users will jump at the opportunity to buy gaming goods but in reality they may have overestimated the traction FB games have had so far. Compared to SL or WOW, FB games are still baby games and, at least until Mafia Wars and Farmville showed up, had little potential of getting people wild and digging deep in their pockets for money. The FB profile also, in Romania at least, is not hard core gamers but rather socializing freaks.
so, I personally cannot wait to see how this new credit initiative is going to work. I would have added credits for making profile crazier looking and boosting your social status on the network. somehow it feels that's that FB is about in Romania.

Digital industry - chilly days

Last Friday a couple of the people running digital agencies met with a UK planner to discuss the options of putting together a sort of knowledge camp for digital. It was like back in the old days with planners' meetings only this time it was supposed to be focused on digital.

It was funny to watch how, being the young pups that we are, we looked at this as both a threat and and opportunity. An opportunity because it would give us a chance to go after new business maybe in the portfolios of other agencies present, and a threat because it would mean sharing knowledge which we think is proprietary and makes us hold on to our clients. Overall the meeting was sad and inconsequential because we were all heads of agencies and all we cared about were procedural issues and "industry" problems as opposed to being really concerned with the systemic lack of know-how that the industry suffers from.

I cannot blame us however. In times of affluence, everyone is focusing on expanding knowledge, on finding out better and smarter ways to create and innovate. In dire straights, we focus on survival, and, being the bureaucratic people that we are, for us survival comes from making rules. Other people, in times of need, become inventive and get smart. With Romanians it seems that in times of need we start imposing regulations [just look at what the government is doing].
i'm not saying this is a bad thing. I personally do not have a solution at this time, but that meeting just felt sad. Because nobody was there to talk about how we can become smarter as an industry. everyone was out to protect his slice of the pie....
I hate this effing financial crisis :(


Romania's publishers decide to set display standards

I am not entirely sure what this means, but some of the top publishing conglomerates online in Romania have put out a three points standard system for display on their websites. This means that they will start "evaluating" the display they accept on their websites. It will serve to increase the quality of display they get, and thus, enhance results for clients and agencies alike.

From what I understand the consesnus is that publishers will refuse CPC payment when the campaign is clearly brand awareness or brand building driven. CPT payment will be enforced in this case. I also understand that the publishers will evaluate display submitted and decide whether it qualifies for CPC, CPA, CPL or CPT. Plus, ads will get run of network or run of category treatment exclusively in order to ensure targeting more clearly and better results for the client.

Well, to me, it seems like a great initiative for an industry which has managed to bury display almost completely through the very work of some of its agency heads who, avowedly, despise display and consider it a menial form or promotion BUT... :D some questions do remain:

- it's pretty hard to evaluate display creative anyway, banners are small, they move fast etc. Who will be the ultimate decision maker in what gets CPC or CPT treatment? Can we get some basic guidelines, you guys :D (like simple one liners "always say click here, never use flashing arrows or always use flashing arrows)

- does this mean that publishers will become involved in telling agencies what works or not? will this be done transparently? or, like agencies sometimes get with ad serving companies, where the creative is simply rejected without explanations.
If this is not the case, I expect to see an incremental ballooning in revenue for in-house publisher agencies - which caught some wings last year but eventually almost died out.

- if run of category is mandatory what prevents publishers from spawning a host of "category-friendly" mini websites which then will attract top dollar without the actual traffic numbers solely on the basis of affinity?

I think this idea by the publishers gives agencies a great opportunity to go to the clients and make some points about the use and misuse of display. I also think that we will finally see campaigns that will HAVE to be made with at least some guidelines covered (like, for Pete's sake, have a landing page that requires some form of response and then track it!) and that maybe we will stop trying to bury what has so far been the largest source of revenue for publishers. In the meantime however it would be nice if I could get some answers to the above.