This Month’s Newsletter

June 2018: R.E.S.P.E.C.T (post GDPR)

May was a month I am glad I will never have to live through again.  Becuase of GDPR. I lost days to its idiocies. You want examples? The recruiters who refused to recruit until I submitted a 25 page DPA (don’t ask) and privacy notice. Then carried on recruiting anyway because they were under so much paperwork they couldn’t validate any of it. The viewing facility that can’t stream my groups because the provider is American and the video data is not permitted to go outside the EC via USA data servers. For years I have run international telephone studies using Skype but for the same reason that is now illegal.

We’ll get past it – we always do. But my fear is that we’ll find ways to get around GDPR instead of taking on the sound principles at its heart. Which is respecting customers. In research a pure information business, that used to be protected by a code of professional conduct. Now it is cloaked beneath a dust sheet of bureaucracy which is going to add half a day’s admin to every project, undermines respondent anonymity and effectively means that those who participate in research are so well briefed that they are no longer normal customers. GDPR killed it. Let me reassure you I am working within the code. But I am also using every trick in the book to make sure that research is real and not a walk on the red carpet (your autograph please!) with popping flashbulbs every time we interview customers. End of rant!

Prove it! Putting evidence at the heart of everything

It has been an honour to be a shortlisting judge for the IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards. The Formula 1 of effectiveness, these awards have for nearly 40 years represented the pinnacle of how advertising works. There are now 1300+ case studies .of proven effectiveness. So it is a kind of lifetime achievement to be part of that body of very very senior planners, researchers and marketing people who decide who in 2018 cuts it and who does not. That’s the good part. What it meant was for 3 weeks reading between 8,000 and 12,000 words a day of closely reasoned argument, deciphering charts with impossibly small writing and sometimes no base sizes or sample information. Oh and econometric models.  In short, it has been a slog and a revelation!

I have one big regret. That I wasn’t forced to do this reading 30 years ago at the start of my career. Because wading through papers at this intensity has a cumulative effect. It normalises a culture of measurement. And I don’t mean the box-ticking which got me so cross about GDPR (see above!)  but the assumption that advertising must be measurable. And it’s effects should be identifiable separate from other marketing activity. That might seem impossible if you work with 1 or 2 clients who are obsessed with confidentiality, have no budget for research and want to count tweets and Facebook likes and call that evaluation. Evaluation becomes normal when you realise that big professional companies just do this and that measurement helps them make even more money. There is no one size that fits all. There isn’t a standard econometric model because communications is so diverse and marketing is working so many different ways. So I feel as if I have been doing the biggest workout of my life. And I can’t help feeling that if I had done that workout many years ago I would have been tougher on myself and others about how effective the work was and how much money it was making.  That’s all I am allowed to say – we shortlist in a few days and the final panel then starts work. Winners are announced in the autumn.


The mask of command – the behavioural biases of marketing

At the start of May, I attended the first UK Iiex Behavioural Marketing conference in BAFTA headquarters. Which among other things meant I got to sit in George Harrison’s chair for the day. Which was nice! One of the most interesting learnings was the suggestion by several marketers that finding the behavioural biasses of customers was all very well, but navigating the behavioural biasses of the marketing team was much more important.  Take the over-confidence bias. Where you think an ad is going to be so effective that you spend less on the budget than competitors. Or the confirmation bias where you tend to favour evidence that supports the beliefs you already hold.

Richard Shotton’s useful book the Choice Factory is chock full of these biasses. I am halfway through it and the Marketing Society has asked me to blog about which consumer biasses transfer most readily to the marketing department and make trouble! Another recent read I have found very useful has been Reni Eddo Lodge’s 2017 book Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race. Which takes entitlement apart, The idea that the way the majority (or people like me) experience the world is the same for everyone else. It is safer to assume that you are working through filters of entitlement and behavioural bias and to find colleagues who can challenge and correct such biasses. Call me if you want to explore these using a workshop!

In other news 

Ginny Valentine Research bravery award winners have been chosen.for 2018 by our distinguished judges. They will be announced on June 11th at the IIex conference in Atlanta – I’m very sorry I won’t be there.  The 50th year anniversary APG party is on June 14th – come and say hello if you are planning to go.  Tracey my fellow author is on the Cannes advertising jury and will we hope, have copies of 98% Pure Potato in PAPERBACK with her in Cannes  (May has been a very busy month). I am straight into a research project at the start of June but have capacity from the middle of the month. So do give me a call if you want me to do some planning work for you, some research, or workshops. And have a good month.

Check out the blog at Further and Faster or follow johngriffiths7 on twitter.

Designed by Matthew Pattman