Welcome to Market Revolution's blog



Thank you for visiting Market Revolution's blog.

We live and work in exciting times - revolutionary times. Technology continues to recast the media industry.

The extraordinary advance of affordable personal digital technology and the stellar rise of social networks are both distrupting and transforming the media market making this a unique moment to be involved in the convergence sectors we focus on.

This is also our place to ruminate and comment on the world as we see it, we hope you enjoy and please join in.





Friday, 28 November 2008

Indie

Religion goes digital




A quick thought of the day to end the working week on.

Parishioners in Surrey will have a church sermon delivered directly to their email inboxes as it is given by an Anglican vicar.

The words spoken by the Rev John Kronenberg, vicar of Hinchley Wood, will be converted into text and sent to 100 church members' computers using SpinVox software. Sunday's sermon is being billed as a world first by St Christopher's Church.

It's good to see such broad acceptance of digital technology throughout society, and I am so hoping it will also be made available soon as a Godcast.

Independent - it was, but it's not now....

On the blog a couple of weeks ago (Nov 18th) I commented that the latest Slimfast round of redundancies at the Indy would lead to them being able to save cost by moving to smaller offices.

A prescient, and almost correct prediction, with news today that the Indy will be leaving Docklands to share Associated Newspaper's plush Kensington offices, so a smaller space in a much larger newspaper HQ.

In theory, this will allow them to share back office costs.

In practice, am I alone in thinking about Little Red Riding Hood? Poor innocent little Independent cosying up to the wolfish Daily Mail, all teeth, spittle and vitriol?

But what's in it for Associated? A few pennies for some spare office space in these recessionary times won't make that much of a difference. Or is a longer term strategy to attack The Times on two fronts in the pipeline?

It was Independent, but no longer. Remember this date, it's the day the dream finally died.

US Newspaper industry contracting at alarming rate


The newspaper industry in the U.S. continues to shrink at an alarming rate. According to the Newspaper Association of America,, total industry advertising (both print and online) in the third quarter was $8.9 billion, down 18 percent from the year before. The oniine portion of that was $750 million, down 3 percent. So far in the first three quarters of 2008, the industry’s total advertising revenues have shrunk by $5 billion to $27.8 billion.

Print advertising has been declining for ten straight quarters, but this marks only the second quarter that online advertising also went down. More concerning is that the overall rate of decline seems to be accelerating. Here is the percentage change in total newspaper advertising for the past five quarters:

3Q07: -7.4%
4Q07: -10.3%
1Q08: -12.85%
2Q08: -15.11%
3Q08: -18.11%

The fourth quarter will probably be worse.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Social Media and the business world

We've all heard lots and lots about social media and how it has become an indispensable part of marketers' armoury. We at Market Evolution are good example of this as we use social media techniques to enable a conversation with and between consumers for market research purposes.

But I for one have always been slightly confused by who is using what and what for?

Well help is at hand. A very helpful guy called Peter Kim has put together this useful directory of social media corporate users and uses. Thanks Peter

Click here to read

There's always one spoiling the fun for everyone else.....




A cheeky ad by the Sun gloating about Britain winning more medals than Australia at the Beijing Olympics, using a twist on the "Where the bloody hell are you?" campaign, has been banned by the ASA following a single complaint.

The regulator considered the word "bloody" to be a swearword and that it was "irresponsible" to reproduce in a medium where children could see it, and told The Sun not to use the word "bloody" on posters in the future.

3 things spring immediately to mind.

Bloody is used in headlines on the front page of several newspapers, which are available for purchase in newsagents, where many children have been spotted before buying sweets and chocolate, and newspapers are often to be found lying around in millions of households on a daily basis. I'm looking at the front page of today's Daily Mirror and Times newspapers, and I'd rather be explaining to my kids what "bloody" meant and the right and wrong context to use it in, than explaining what "Monster raped his two daughters" and "Rape father jailed over daughter's 9 children" meant.

A single complaint is therefore sufficient to allow the ASA to ponder whether the sensibilities of the nation have been offended? 48 million people aged 16 or over in the UK, and a single complaint suffices? That's got to be nonsense surely. I find Gordon Brown offensive, so if he ever appears on a piece of Labour Party marketing communication, does that mean I can get him banned from future use?

Finally, it's The Sun. And it made me smile. Which is pretty good going in today's gloomy world.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Frank talking from Roger Alton, Editor of the Independent

I'm never slow to praise frank talking, as I've felt for a while now that those who are bluffing their way through life always try hardest to hide behind a veil of unnecessary management speak and overly complicated presentation charts.

On MediaGuardian today, a great piece from Roger Alton, about the perilous state of the Independent, particularly after putting the price up to £1 and losing 16% of daily circulation year-on-year. Here is the link to the original article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/nov/24/independent-alton-price-rise

Two things to comment on. In the same way that bears like the woods, and the Pope likes to encourage lots of children, raising the cover price of any newspaper will lose sale - it's only the magnitude of the loss that is up for debate. If the paper is good enough, and provides sufficient perceived value for the additional pennies, then the losses can be minimal. In the case of the Independent, it looks like it's a bridge too far, and will only get worse given the additional editorial job-cuts in the pipeline.

Mr Alton's quote is priceless though, and hats off for plain talking....

"Asked if he regretted the decision to raise the Independent's cover price in September, he said: "Take a wild guess! We were aware of the risks when we did it and the ice cold winds of the recession have increased to gale force more or less from that day.

From the bottom of the market to charge the most was always very risky. It's made us very vulnerable.

If I could do anything to reverse [the ensuing circulation fall], literally anything - I'd saw off my right fucking forearm - I would."

I'd have guessed at a 10% plus decline from a move to a cover price of £1 without any consumer research, based purely on 11 years of cover price movement in the UK market. This does illustrate the value of market research coupled with experience when it comes to making serious commercial decisions. Do it blindly, and repent at your leisure, giving you ample time to self-flagellate with one or both of your hands.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Behind the numbers, we must not forget the people

I haven't worked through recessionary times like these before, having weathered the storm of the early 1990s inside a particularly cosy Ivory Tower, emerging blinking into a commercial world that was just beginning to find its feet again.

Reading the financial pages today, the view from the UK and the US is both interesting and alarming. Having bailed out the financial sector, the US is facing the triple whammy of the 3 largest car manufacturers holding out the begging bowl for federal cash to save themselves, with Ford, GM and Chrysler bosses appearing on Capitol Hill to try and secure a rescue package before they run out of money to pay the bills. A nice irony pointed out by Congressman Sherman was that they had all flown in by corporate jets to ask for cash, but this shouldn't mask the human cost of hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk if the big 3 are allowed to go under.

When MG Rover went under a few years back, the knock on effect on smaller suppliers further down the food chain was devastating in the West Midlands region. Imagining the knock-on effect if the Big 3 went down in the US should force a deal of some sort through one would hope.

Back in the UK, Mini are taking a month off from production in December, and Honda have announced a 2 month mothball for production in Swindon next year. With airfields across the country doubling up as car parks for unwanted new cars, this shouldn't be surprising, but somehow it still is. Jaguar are also asking for £1bn in interim loan finance, as Tata, their parent company struggles to finance the debt incurred to buy the luxury brands a couple of years ago.

On the other side of the pond, Citigroup shares have taken a battering this week, down 23% on Wednesday, 26% on Thursday and 20% on Friday, despite announcing a further 50,000 job cuts globally earlier in the week. Confidence, or lack of it, seems to be driving the share price down, as the fundamental financial health of the business is apparently reasonable. Though what this means anymore is debatable, the rules of the game have changed so much in the last few months that the pen and the word are indeed mightier than the sword. Confidence in the markets is everything, and without it, not even the mightiest financial institutions are safe. Again, the human cost if Citigroup implodes would be immense.

Finally, what to say about Woolworths? For too long now, a brand in chaos, with no clear consumer proposition and massive product ranges displayed in chaotic shelving. The commercial situation is clear - without a rescue deal being agreed with the bank syndicate providing the existing debt mountain, the business will be out of cash before Christmas and likely to be in administration before the month is out. The human cost is also clear, 30,000 staff in 840 stores face a Christmas without a job to return to.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Our predictions for newspapers in 2009 and beyond

Cheery news to end the working week with the publication of a report from Enders Analysis into the ad market for the next 5 years.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/nov/21/advertising-pressandpublishing

The UK print ad market will be the worst hit of all media sectors in 2009, down 21%, with newspaper display ads down 22% and classifieds down about 19%. Growth will not return to the print ad market until some time after 2013.

Next year digital media revenue growth will crash to just 2.1%, a long way off from previous years of explosive growth.

So, if the soothsayers have read their tea leaves correctly, it's going to be an even tougher couple of years for the newspaper sector than previously feared. We've been tracking the on-going job losses in the sector over the last week or so, with this week seeing Trinity Mirror announce a pay freeze and disappearing bonus double whamming, and the Irish times announcing 60 job losses as the situation worsens across the Irish Sea.

What does it actually mean though? Our predictions for the next 2 years are as follows.......

Costs will continue to be cut, and anything not nailed down will be jettisoned as newspapers pare expenditure to the bone.

Digital is not going to make up for the double digit drops in print ad revenue, and digital teams will also be cut back.

Functions that traditionally have been held in-house will begin to be outsourced throughout 2009.

Agencies who can offer decent revenue opportunities will be best positioned to help build new revenue opportunities from existing audiences.

At least one national newspaper will disappear from newsagents by the end of 2009.

Newspapers with courage and vision, who invest time in proper commercial partnerships with smart agencies will reap the benefits in the short term, there will still be money to be made out of audiences, but the days of sitting back and taking display and classified advertising bookings have gone for good.

Newspapers will survive, as strong brands with loyal audiences can always be profitable, but skilled management is essential.

It's going to be an interesting year.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Great Disappearing ad revenue and headcount reduction....... Part 3

The long running Slimfast diet at the Independent titles in London looks to be continuing, with reports today that another 90 jobs are being cut from the already pared to the bone business.

With reports of the monthly losses varying from £1million to £2million, it's a newspaper with serious financial problems, which can only be increasing in severity with ad revenues down by 20-30% at its larger circulating competitive newspaper rivals.

The only positive to take from this is that with commercial office space costs dropping equally quickly, the inevitable downsizing from the waterside Canary Wharf HQ into a smaller and cosier office floor elsewhere, will be a positive contribution to the cost-cutting exercise.

"The Independent - it is, are you" - was an iconic brand campaign which made individual readers feel that they were being spoken to on a one-to-one basis. At the current rate of progress, it's getting close to being that in reality. Will the last person to leave please turn out the lights?

Saturday, 15 November 2008

and now for something lighter

For all you sophisticated marketers out there take a minute to read about a new and increasing powerful media.............

Consider taking JenaĆ© up on her offer to wear your startup shirt and talk about your company for a day. It’s $75, and she posts videos on her site, YouTube, Seesmic and Viddler, posts pictures on Flickr and tweets about it all as well.

You have to send her the shirt two weeks in advance, and afterwards she gives it away.

'It consists of me being your walking advertisement as I wear your company shirt and showcase anything else you send me. I spread the news via Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Viddler, Seesmic and my website, showcasing who you are, what you do, and how others can do business with you. For each, I create a showcase video where right on the show, I open your package, talk about your company, then wear your shirt and spread the news. The day after the company is showcased, it will be listed under our shirt & swag graveyard where others can buy the paraphernalia I showcased.'


Tempted?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

"The great disappearing ad revenue and headcount adventure - Part 2"

It didn't take as long as I thought it would do for "TGDARAHA" to return, a matter of only 45 minutes.....

Haymarket has just cut 50 jobs across the business.

Though in better news for staff, mediaguardian is reporting that NI has rebuffed a truce offer from DMGT over the London freesheet wars. Any truce would undoubtedly have led to further job losses.

This said, given how bad the ad market is for paid titles, let alone free newspapers, it can only be a matter of time before there is some sort of consolidation or deal between NI and DMGT. Can't it?

Our first part in a hopefully not too regular series - "The great disappearing ad revenue and headcount adventure - Part 1"

Every day brings further raised eyebrows in our office, and I'm sure in many others across media-land.

A quick summary of media news in the last 48 hours:

CondeNet - slashing jobs across the board to deal with the slackening of digital revenue growth.

Johnston Press - 15% decline in ad revenues for the first 10 months of 2008, with 50% fall in property advertising.

DMGT - cutting 300 of what were previously the safest jobs in newspapers.

Time Out - cutting 8% of staff (OK, this is only 13 people, but it's another indicator that all advertising revenue is shrinking).

Trinity Mirror - 20% decline in underlying group advertising revenues since June, and further cost cutting planned for 2009, also showing similar near 50% decline in property advertising.

The latest NRS figures are released tomorrow, which will provide further ammunition for many newspaper execs to load up the guns and find a dark corner to sit in, as the figures will reflect the ongoing circulation decline for almost all titles and show readership levels falling in tandem (though slightly lagging) with circulation.

It's not going to be a happy Xmas in most of media-land I fear, but in times of darkness, plan for the return of the light. It's a cyclical business and always has been. Digital may have masked the traditional curve, but you can bet your last Government owned bank dollar that the good times will return at some point. Those businesses with the intelligence and balls to back investment now, and plan smartly for the future, will be best positioned to ride out the storm.

For the rest, take solace (either in quantum or smaller measures) that it could be worse, you could be an estate agent. Remember them? Annoying branded cars driven by idiots with scant respect for other road users. As I type, someone, somewhere, is probably setting up a memorial or fundraising concert in support of this former industry sector.....

Monday, 10 November 2008

New age of austerity marketing

As the economic environment worsens it seems that marketers are rushing to re position their brands.

It's no longer acceptable (or sensible) to be flash.

Spending on expensive items (even for those that can afford it) is OUT!

Affordable and sensible is IN............

Great piece in the New York Times that captures this new paradigm very well

Barack Obama - what his victory means to me

Here at Market Evolution we keep away from politics preferring to focus on consumers etc. However please allow us one small political foray. The Barack Obama election victory seems worthy of a comment. But rather than comment directly we wanted to share with you a very personal account from a colleague living in New York city:

Friends --

I know this election of ours has almost felt like an election of
yours but I suspect you believed more in your minds what we have felt
in our hearts, that a rejection of change would have hastened
America's demise. But that hasn't happened and I wanted to give you a
taste of what it feels like and sounds like to be in New York
tonight. It's half past one and the streets are crowded with people,
three deep on the sidewalk. New Yorkers have climbed on their roofs
and on to their fire escapes, there's dancing on the streets, dancing
in front of cars. There's the ceaseless noise of cheering, even -
suddenly - bagpipes playing. Tonight, we even forgive the bagpipes.
Every few seconds comes the blare of another car horn and more
screams of Obama, of Yes We Can, more whoops of utter joy.

I've been here, on and off, for more than 19 years through two
Clinton victories, big wins for the Yankees and Knicks, a dozen or
more New Year's Eves and nothing has been like this, nothing has come
even close. This is the sound of a city set free for the first time
since September 11, 2001. This is us exhaling at last. For eight
years, New York has felt like another country. What counted for
America has been owned by others and governed for others. Everything
the Bush Administration did with its exclusionary policies, its
bigotry and intolerance, its religious fascism, its economic
arrogance was done to us, not for us. Obama can't solve everything
but he has already made the greatest city in the nation feel like it
belongs to America again and he has made someone who has only been an
American for 5 years feel like he belongs for the first time. Up to
now, my belief in citizenship had been shaken by a question about
what kind of country I had joined. By showing us the best of all our
selves, Barack Obama has silenced that doubt not just for me or for
us in New York, but for millions of Americans who can have faith in
America again.

And now I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Campaign for clarity of writing - Part One

This from Marketing Week:

"Integrated Voice of the Customer Architecture

World class companies have recognized significant value of connecting the Voice of the Customer (VOC) to downstream business results, and upstream to Voice of the Employee and to other key enablers. Maritz is a thought leader in designing and constructing Integrated VOC Architectures that integrate all of a company's VOC touch points and link them to financial and other business results, as well as to upstream enablers.

Clients partnering with Maritz benefit from best practice approaches gleaned from over 30 years of experience in Customer Experience work as well as cutting-edge advances in the state of the art of linkage modeling, convergent analysis, and business blueprinting."

There has to be a better way to write this text, without using the type of language and jargon that just smacks of "in-the-club-ism". For me, it's using language to preserve an air of mystique and commercial bafflement, to justify a large invoice. Clarity of thought should translate to clarity of writing, and clarity of implementation and results.

Maybe I'm wrong. What do you think?

Trade marketing, the innocent casualties

Thanks to MediaGuardian for bringing the latest battle in the coffee wars to our attention.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2008/nov/04/newsinternational-pressandpublishing

The in-store Starbucks deal for The Times was a groundbreaking piece of trade marketing deal making back in 2004 which has since spawned a multitude of imitators.

A genuine sales driver with the print newspaper available in-store when customers had time to buy and read it, the deal recently crumbled in unclear circumstances, with the vacuum left by The Times being filled by The Guardian.

Now the in-Wapping Starbucks franchises, previously providing subsidised Lattes to the overworked NI staff, have been replaced by a rival, as NI completes the divorce from the US coffee giant.

There's a lot of coffee drunk at Wapping, it would be interesting to see how much money Starbucks made out of the locations on an annual basis. Bet you a £1 they hadn't included this calculation in any discussions about the future of the wider in-store deal......

The Independent - predicting the future

The ongoing share-buying struggle between Denis O'Brien and Sir Anthony O'Reilly over Independent News & Media has been featured on the blog at various points over the last 18 months or so. D O'B is now the second largest shareholder, and is approaching the c30% ownership levels which would automatically trigger a takeover situation.

In essence, Sir A O'R has built the business up globally, but media interest has recently centred on the perenially loss making UK Independent titles. The rest of the empire is subject to the same market depressions seen everywhere, but are in much ruder health than the London based titles. D O'B is not impressed with the continued investment in the London losses, and wants to force a sale, and maybe even remove A O'R from the helm.

This situation is moving ever closer to a conclusion though as the credit crisis continues, as the £1.1 billion INM borrowings start to weigh down the overall group. Six months from now, £200 million of bond needs to be redeemed, which is prompting speculation of disposals to generate cash.

With the estimated £10m+ losses annually, the Independent (UK) titles aren't going to be raising cash for the group if they are disposed of. Talks to save further cost by merging back room functions with rival publishers are apparently ongoing, but even this smacks of rearranging deckchairs while the iceberg moves ever closer. With a cover price of £1 and full rate sales of only 128,738 in September, there's not much going for the Indy titles.

Would you buy them? On the plus side, a nice brand with a niche audience, but not niche enough to attract decent ad rates. On the negative side, a commercial model that promises to break even one day, but never achieves it. Our view, a step too far from a purely commercial basis.

The Independent may be the headline in the media coverage of INM and D O'B, but it's a distraction. The real battle here is on re-financing the debt without selling the family silver to do so. Interesting 6 months ahead for the Group as a whole. The big question is on who you would put your money on to come through 2009 on top, on Sir Anthony, or D O'B?