Digital Strategy Innovation Summit

September 20, 2018

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve spent the past couple of days in Sydney:

  1. Sleeping in a capsule hotel,
  2. And doing nerdy things at the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit.

Capsule hotels, it turns out, are just glorified, high-tech hostels. Felt like I was in Aliens or The Fifth Element… Not sure if Mila or Sigourney ever wore thongs to the bathroom to avoid getting athlete’s foot though.

On the other hand, the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit definitely covered innovation, digital and strategy. Most of my digital and strategy skills are self-taught (peppered with a few great short courses here and there) so it was eye-opening, reinvigorating and inspiring to hear experienced strategists and innovators talk about things in my wheelhouse. And also comforting when it turns out that vague concepts in my heads are actually frameworks with fancy names.

Here are some quotes because everyone loves a quote:

  • “Digital is not a threat. It can be your answer. If you get Facebook really right, you have 500K marketing managers for your radio station.” – Linda Bracken, Former Head of Audience Strategy & Digital Design, ABC.
  • “Transformation is a subset of innovation. New technology is a symptom of human curiosity.” – Scott Ward, Founder, Digital Infusions.
  • “Machine learning is the high interest credit card of technical debt.” – Paul Tune, Machine Learning Engineer, Canva.
  • “Data only takes us so far. It shows us what’s happened in the past. Design thinking helps us figure out why things are happening.” – Scott Ward.
  • “Creating a product is easy. Selling a product is hard. You have to create something that people need rather than selling something you have.” >> Sadly did not catch this person’s name! Believe she was in marketing/comms strategy, and replaced someone who was ill so isn’t listed on the program.
  • “Don’t capture people’s data for no reason. Solve a problem, solve a beautiful problem.” – Jennifer Scott, GM Digital Transformation, ANZ.
  • The customer is in the centre.” – Rob Hango-Zada, Co-founder, Shippit.
  • “Creative disruption is the new business as usual.” – Scott Ward.
  • “Whenever you see customer friction, this is where change is going to happen.” – Jennifer Scott talking about waiting in line for a supermarket checkout, and then seeing what Amazon Go is doing in the US.
  • Not a direct quote, but Ali Adey (Head of Digital, Simon De Winter) and Kim Peirce (Founder, Babe Australia) talked about how they find micro-influencers to be more valuable than influencers for brands. While they have less followers, their audiences tend to be more niche and engaged. They’re also seen to be more authentic when endorsing brands because they aren’t already up to their eyeballs with brand deals.
  • “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable with uncertainty. We need to get excited about being uncomfortable with uncertainty.” Harmandeep Singh, former VP of Strategy and Innovation at Brady.
  • “Engagement is captivating interest for long enough that they give a shit.” – Rob Hango-Zada.

The recurring theme here was HUMANS.

Whether it’s customers for consumer-facing activity like marketing, sales, customer service and product innovation, or staff if we’re talking about processes, product development and digital transformations. A common sentiment across the board was that the best technology, processes, apps and ideas mean shit if they don’t fit the people. If you haven’t thought about how your team feel about something or how they are going to implement it, or you’re assuming blindly that people want your product, then you’re in trouble. (Side note – I have many, many thoughts about how this definitely still applies to creative industries like music. There’s much debate about writing music for yourself vs. writing music for the market, but that’s a giant blog post for another day.)

Story time. Back in my early twenties I worked in the diamond industry for a couple of years doing quality control and logistics. (Before you stalk me on LinkedIn, this job ain’t listed on my profile.)

My office was a very secure diamond vault, and I needed to get through five floor-to-ceiling fridge doors to get to it. Imagine the Get Smart credits – that was my morning walk into my office. It was also super cramped and so dark in the vault that I could barely read the tiny barcodes on my diamond bags.

The company paid a consultancy firm some hefty cash to help us improve productivity and therefore make more money. Some creepy dudes in suits came in for a few months, but not once did they actually talk to any lower level team members. Instead they went to lunch with upper management a few times, and then back with ‘business solutions’.

Their improvement for my role was to swap out my normal product trolley with a giant ‘high productivity’ trolley that did not fit into my bloody vault. I pointed this out to them, and they said they were 100% sure it fit because they checked the building’s blueprint. Turns out they didn’t think about the fact that a human needs to be able to fit WITH the trolley in the vault to put things on it, so I had to instead have my trolley outside the vault to do my work and walk double the distance every single time I retrieved a product. And also – no new lights.

People are important apparently. Talk to your humans. 😂

BIGSOUND: Edition Seven

September 12, 2018

Wot wot

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This year marked my seventh time up in Queensland for BIGSOUND. Here are some things that happened:
  • Ran a workshop with Bolster‘s Director Anthony Zaccaria on understanding data and being able to pull out actionable insights from a bunch of numbers.
  • Got attacked by a BIGSOUND monster. See above.
  • Finally watched No Mono live after months of hearing my friends gush about them. They were GREAT.
  • Went to watch No Mono’s second showcase, but accidentally walked through a Bin Juice set on the way and was blown away. Absolute music highlight of the whole conference. I didn’t end up catching No Mono again.
  • Asked a question at Darren Levin’s content panel, and then had a complete stranger in the loo afterwards tell me I had a lovely voice. (Not sure if she liked my question.)
  • This gem from Alex’s data panel, from the moderator Chris Carey: “Data only has an answer if you have a question to ask.” So figure out why you are looking at the data (what’s your artist’s top city, or the best retailer for record sales, or the top track this year, or good targeting ideas?) and then look at the data. Was fitting with the panel focusing on how there is so much bloody data available to us now, but people aren’t necessarily getting any extra value here. 
  • Got my own hotel room in a twist of fate because my roomie ended up breaking her ankle before flying up to Brisbane. Broken bones suck but privacy is pretty great.
  • The most incredible views from the Bolster boys’ hotel room.
  • Drunk conversations at the Eventbrite party comparing investing to advertising optimisation. (Give me a whisky and ask me about this.)
  • Heard a certain media person on a panel claim to simply take brands’ money and then bury their paid editorial with other content as their ‘native content strategy’… NB: person in question is not a Bolster employee, client or partner.
  • Pretty sure the Bolster espresso martinis were pure rocket fuel. See below.
  • Not getting completely sick! This is a BIGSOUND first for me. (I do feel not 100% and have been avoiding humans this week, but hey, this is still a big win.)

Bolster x BIGSOUND x Brisbane x…. Beverages 😏 #bigsound

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Creative Forecasting

August 16, 2018

Taking a break from our usual programming… with a podcast recommendation.

Like your standard advertising agency employee, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes with things such as productivity, creativity and forecasting. I listened to this great episode of HerMoney With Jean Chatzky with Adam Grant, and it had so many bloody gems. Here are a few standouts:

  • On creative forecasting: studies show that creatives can’t critically evaluate their own ideas because they love them too much. Creatives’ managers are too critical and underestimate the ideas. The group that was the most accurate with predicting success of a creative idea was actually peers.
  • If you don’t have the luxury of running your ideas past your contemporaries, Grant suggests writing at least 20 (or up to 200, wtf) possible solutions for your scenario. Then number them from your favourite to least. Weirdly, creative forecasting studies show that your second favourite item will usually be the most successful.
  • When it comes to innovation, it’s often better to be a fast follower than a pioneer. The iPod was not the first to market, but it soon became eponymous for the MP3 player. (Let it be known I’ve never owned an iPod. I went straight from a Sony Discman to Spotify because I had some kind of music tech coma for ten years.)
  • In a similar vein, MVPing is very important. Shipping a minimum viable product is better than labouring away for years to make a perfect product, and then suffer when you launch because the market is crowded. (The example Grant gives was Polaroid, but a past workplace springs to mind for me. I worked in a team where where my managers were mad about perfection, to the point that everything we did was re-worked so much that by the time it was ready, the project was completely irrelevant and not timely for our end users.)

I’ll stop now 😝 Just listen for yourself below.

(Side note, this is the best podcast I’ve listened to in my entire life. If you’re into personal finance, the psychology of money, saving tips, stock markets, investing or all of the above, check it out.)

BIGSOUND 2018

August 12, 2018

The final BIGSOUND 2018 announcement is here… and I’m super excited to be speaking this year! Just casually listed with other Ps like keynote speaker Paul Kelly and the incredible Patience Hodgson. #notfangirling

With Bolster, I’ll be doing a workshop on data, metrics and reporting. Specifically on understanding advertising and social media metrics, why you should care, and how to figure out if you actually did well. Metrics are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Different campaigns have different benchmarks to begin with, and even within a campaign, different ads, targeting or channels can be/should be used for different purposes. For instance, is this $1,000 you’re spending here to drive awareness to prospecting audiences, or to drive conversions to high intent users who already know about your product?

The workshop will be at The Judith Wright Centre on September 5 (day 2!). More details here!

P.S. Bolster Co-Director Alex Zaccaria is also doing a panel on data, Creative Director Nicky Humphreys is on a design/branding panel, and Bolster Content Director/LNWY.co Editor Darren Levin will be speaking about content creation.

P.P.S. Also annual reminder that I have terrible eyesight so please say hi if you see me because I probably can’t see you.

One Of One

June 24, 2018

One of One is an incredible music blog started by three Melbourne women, with the purpose of shining a spotlight on the wonderful women in the music industry. I’ve been a reader for the past couple of years because it’s absolutely inspirational to see women in the music business kicking goals, especially those that I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past decade.

Sarah Hamilton (ahem, one of those said ladies I’ve had the pleasure of working with) interviewed me for the site last week. Have a read, laugh at my OTT Virgo method of dealing with stress and maybe find out a bit more about what I do all day at Bolster. Someone said my answer to the karaoke question was a cop out. 😏

(If the name One of One sounds familiar, I also went to their absolutely beautiful and empowering International Women’s Day Breakfast earlier this year. Read more about that here.)

YouTube Music

June 23, 2018

YouTube Music has been in Australia for a little while now, but Google just announced a whole revamped music platform recently. Bolster is actually working on a small part of the roll out marketing campaign on local soil, so Nicky (Bolster’s Creative Director) and I went to their YouTube Music launch party in Sydney earlier this week.

The new version of the streaming app is designed to put music discovery at the forefront, playing into the breadth of YouTube Music’s catalogue. More info on YTM here.

(Funny story. Our plane was super delayed so we only ended up being at the actual party for about an hour, but we still managed to say hi to some familiar faces plus watch Amy Shark and Vera Blue. *Shakes fist at Virgin.*)

Happy International Synth Day!

May 23, 2018

Happy International Synth Day from the Bolster team! P.S. Promise I did real work too.

Censorship? Or doing the right thing?

May 16, 2018

Spotify made world news last week with the announcement of their new Hate Content & Hateful Conduct policy:

We love that our platform is home to so much diversity because we believe in openness, tolerance, respect, and freedom of expression, and we want to promote those values through music on our platform.

However, we do not tolerate hate content on Spotify – content that expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.

The Swedish streaming platform has copped some serious heat over this. Surprising to me at first, but I can also see how.

Firstly, it’s truly wonderful to see a big multinational taking a stand and not celebrating shit stains. It absolutely sickens me that Chris Brown still has a career, and that popular convicted women haters are still held on a pedestal in the entertainment business. So many companies and businesses are too scared about the bottom line to be the first to make a stand on controversial issues. (But, of course, okay to do so after others have and are pat on the back. See: American big businesses revoking their NRA discounts, but only after the first few were applauded on social media.)

It feels like a huge victory to see Spotify removing content that incites violence, and not using their promotional tools like daily mixes and RapCaviar to further the careers of these ‘hateful’ individuals. This feels like a middle finger to a system that has failed so many of us, women like my friends and me who have tried to get help for sexual assault and misconduct IRL but seen absolutely zero action. But it also brings up so many questions:

  • Is it the place of the content provider to be the censor? Is that a job for curators and media outlets (e.g. the triple js and NMEs of the world)? Or does Spotify’s features (custom daily mixes, playlists with giant followings, similar artists suggestions) almost turn the DSP into a curator as well? And how is Spotify facing heat over this, when book publisher Simon & Schuster got good press for cancelling their deal with the very racist, lesbian-hating Milo Yiannopoulos?
  • And regardless of who is doing the censorship… where do we draw the line? Do we say holding women against their will in a cult-like sex dungeon is bad (R. Kelly) but flashing your genitals to a fellow performer is okay (Louis C.K.)? Or does it depend on how outraged Twitter is?
  • It just so happens that this policy matches my political views… what happens if a different content provider swings the other way? Say if a pro-NRA eBook service decides to remove all literature around gun control? Is that okay?
  • Should we, and can we even, separate art from the artist? (I’d say no. Author-centred view, anyone?)
  • No man is an island, and most pieces of musical work are not recorded and put up by a single person. Is it fair to remove Lostprophets’ music from Spotify because of Ian Watkins’ truly atrocious crimes? Even though the rest of the band have publicly denounced him and Watkins has been sentenced to 30 odd years behind bars?
  • What about official channels of punishment? If a person (famous or otherwise) commits a hate crime, should we leave this with the authorities to convict and sentence as appropriate? Why is it up to content providers to take action?
  • When does this become trial (or Spotify censorship) by media? The #MuteRKelly campaign definitely gave this a helping hand, in the same way that Weinstein being fired from his own company was very much because of the traction that the #MeToo movement had.
  • What about reform? If an artist commits a heinous crime, serves out the sentence, grows up, learns the errors of their ways… can they never ever release music again? Is this an old school and barbaric way of thinking?

They’ve rolled out the reporting button already (check it out below) and have removed R. Kelly’s music from all their curated playlists. A slew of suggestions for other ‘hateful’ individuals have been rolling in and it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here.

As Spotify themselves noted:

These are complicated issues… We’ll make some mistakes, we’ll learn from them.

 

Screenshot_20180516-221506_Spotify

Past Paige Advice & CHANGES

May 15, 2018

Googled myself today (yes, truly) to find out what year I was on a panel for Face The Music, and came across this blast-from-the-past article that the wonderful Mel Lewis wrote for FasterLouder.

It’s a little breakdown of the advice that Jaymz Clements (my former Beat Mag editor), Rebekah Campbell, Alicia Moreau, Dylan Liddy and dished out, including:

When Cho receives a press release, she wants to see a “call to action” and an effort on the bands part to make the publicist’s job easier. Clear indication of contact details, links to concise collections of information and media (photographs, music etc), the offer to forward better pics, more albums, posters, what have you, all go a long way. Communication about your event should be tailored into two streams: direct communication (to your existing fanbase getting them on board to support the event) and indirect communication (aimed at media outlets who you are hoping to secure publicity support from). She added that bands constantly leave marketing to the last minute, or don’t factor it in at all.

Eight years later and this advice still completely makes sense! And so many artists, promoters and festivals still get this wrong.

On the topic of Face The Music… very excited to be working on The Push‘s new music industry event, CHANGES. The Bolster team have been working hard on the shit hot website and gorgeous video assets, and I’m working on the digital advertising side of things. See you in July!

F8 Announcements

May 10, 2018

Facebook introduced some pretty swanky new features at its ninth F8 conference last week. Watch Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote below, or torture yourself with hours of other official event footage here.

Or just Google ‘Facebook F8 announcements’ to see what media outlets are saying, because we all know brevity is not one of Facebook’s strengths.

Here are some random thoughts about just a handful of this year’s announcements.

FACEBOOK MESSENGER TRANSLATIONS

This is actually pretty incredible. Facebook is rolling out chat translations in its messenger app. We can literally chat to anyone in the world (who has Facebook Messenger, a charged phone, an internet connection, thumbs to write something inane etc. etc.).

I’m actually surprised this is the first time a big tech company has done this. I also wonder if Zuckerberg has heard about the Tower of Babel.

SMARTER BOTS

Facebook has also promised to improve its messenger bots by integrating its NLP (natural language processing) into the app to help bots understand what us mere humans are trying to ask.

Should have seen me try to unsuccessfully schedule in reminders on Blink the Bee a few weeks ago. For the love of god, JUST REMIND ME TO CALL MY GRANDMOTHER ON WEEKENDS.

INSTAGRAM VIDEO CHATS

Right now you can actually send a short video message via Instagram Stories directly to someone. But it’s kind of weird. Do this to me and you will only ever get a text reply back.

Anyway, Instagram is encroaching on Snapchat’s territory even further by rolling out vid chats on their platform too.  Sliding into someone’s DMs just got a hell of a lot riskier. 😏

3D PHOTOS

Not sure how this will actually play out, but this feature will mash up 2D photos with Facebook’s VR and 3D photo technology to integrate your old photos into real life. I think.

Facebook’s take on people superimposing or photographing iconic album covers with their original locations?

SHARING NEW CONTENT ONTO INSTA STORIES

This one has me pretty excited. You can share content from Spotify (read: all the hot songs I’m enjoying rn), GoPro and Soundcloud straight into Instagram stories.

Screenshot_20180510-222812_Instagram

CLEAR HISTORY

Facebook also announced a ‘clear history‘ feature, its equivalent of deleting your history on a web browser. This was definitely a proactive step in light of its data woes, and it’ll be interesting to see the average consumer’s take on this. Better content and advertising on your news feed vs. privacy. You pick.

FACEBOOK DATING

And finally, can we talk about Facebook’s dating feature? It’ll let you be ‘open’ to connecting friends of friends. My friends have attractive friends who are not yet my friends. Keen.

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