A week of London agency visits

Last month this year’s newly foreign recruited Future Media students repacked their bags for a three-day trip to the hub of British advertising and where it all happens: London. Six very different agencies, from award winning giants to small independent start-ups, had generously invited us to visit them and see for ourselves what agency life is all about.


With every student coming from a different background and prsuing a more creative or more strategic career, our opinions varied as we tried to define our key take-way of this trip.


Nelson Barnica, Honduras

“15 students, 6 agencies, 3 days and 1 take-away…sounds like the intro to a reality show. At the end of the 3 days we all survived (pun intended), and I think everybody got something out of it, be it positive or negative. In my case, my key take-away was a reassurance that I made the right decision for my career path but also left one thing clear: if I want to be in advertising and in the UK, I have to work, work and work at it but also have fun.”


Eva Witschi, Switzerland

“The four days we spent in London were intensive and interesting. On the one hand, it was very insightful to see how these different agencies work; be it their methodologies, the work they produce or the atmosphere in their office. On the other hand, we got a glimpse of the advertising market in the UK. Of course, we have only seen a handful of agencies, which is in no way representative, but for me it was interesting to see the difference between Switzerland and the UK. Seeing as the UK advertising industry is one of the most creative and renowned in the world, London week has definitely encouraged me to stay here for a while.”


Halldís Guðmundsdóttir, Iceland

“After our agency visits in London I learned a lot about how agencies work and I enjoyed seeing some of the projects each agency had done and hearing about the development of the idea and work; how long the whole process took, how many people worked on each project, how it was executed etc. Visiting these agencies kind of made me want to take courses that would help me get more into the tech world and understand it better, since it is clearly the present and future in agencies.“


Han Xiao, China

“Throughout the whole week, I realised that advertising and marketing are significantly dependent on each other. The fancy and interesting creative commercials audiences watch on TV are based on a lot of research, data and evidence. To be able to work in the advertising industry doesn’t only require creative thinking, but also logical analysis and the use of methodologies to reach the most essential audiences and position for brand. In this case, I think the one takeaway I value the most is the importance of research behind every campaign.”


Halinh Truong, Germany

“If I had to describe London week in one word, it would be “inspirational“. Every single agency took their time to welcome us into their world and I was overwhelmed by their great stories, passion and the love they put into each project. What inspired me the most was their ability to turn simple data into successful campaigns. AMVBBDO and Red Bee Creative, for example, impressed me with their willingness to go beyond the pale and take campaigns to the next level. Found, as a digital performance agency, gave us so many useful and interesting insights and Seenit welcomed us with their young and fresh spirit. Getting behind-the-scenes of it all, definitely fuelled my passion for the creative industry.”


Bianca Pryce, England

“Agency week was very insightful – visiting some of the agencies reinforced the importance of having a strong grasp of the clients’ brand. Although obvious this ensures consistency since the creative process doesn’t stop. Consistency is the key to the success of a brand and creates longevity. One thing that resonated with me personally was that it’s ok to use failures as leverage to re-create an idea or access opportunities. Both Ed of Seenit and Luke from Found touched on this; I will certainly bear this in mind as I pursue my career.”


Kaurwakki Gautam, India

“The importance of having the right work environment was one of my key take-aways. Lambie-Nairn for example told us that they value all-inclusiveness in creative brainstorming sessions, from the admin to the strategy department. They believe everyone’s creative opinion can spark a successful campaign. Freedom is one of the necessary elements to creative thinking.  Certainly, spending more than a few days with an agency would be extremely useful as it would give us the opportunity to be a part of inspirational ideas. And for me personally, this would be a dream come true.”


Alejandro Lopez Manzanera, Spain

“The London Week was a very interesting experience that I would recommend to anyone. All the agency and company visits helped me to get a glimpse of how things are done in advertising here in Britain. These agencies are at the cutting-edge compared to their Spanish branches and learning more about their methodologies was really illustrative. I’m looking forward for our next agency visit, hoping to see a more Mast of Science approach on them to help me in deciding my path.”


Marie Adeyelure, Nigeria

“My one takeaway was that the ‘BIG IDEA’ doesn’t just happen; it’s a result of some serious research and strategy gathered and executed using strategic methodology to drill down to what is really important. Every agency we visited had its own specific methodology which it used to  produce the creative execution of ideas that blow us away when they’re rolled out in TV ads, social media and experiential marketing campaigns. One thing was clear; while good creative work looks like magic to the viewer, there’s a science to it.”


Yasmin Ibrahim, Somalia

“It was very interesting to see how these big agencies work… well some more than others!! My two favourite agencies that we visited were FOUND and Seenit. FOUND gave a very informative presentation in what they do and why- I noticed that smaller agencies have more passion towards what they’re doing and I really liked that. My main take of the whole trip is that if I had the opportunity to choose between working in a big or small agency, I would pick the small one.”


Fanny Tacheny, Belgium

“During our London week, I collected great memories. My favourite one was certainly the presentation at the start-up „Seenit“. Hearing the founder herself talk about her vision was above inspiring and built up a desire in me to actually start my own business in the future. I enjoyed all the agencies and the presentations, but the passion and love at Seenit and the idea to create something from scratch – that is what I am looking forward to. Maybe someday, I will have the opportunity to welcome students myself and tell them my own story.”


I-Hsuan Liu, Taiwan

“This is the first time I was involved with the digital marketing industry in the UK. It was a nice experience to visit real agencies in London. We could understand more about local advertising, culture and campaigns. I am interested in their work and work environment. Some had entire departments to create their innovative products and satisfy client’s needs. Visiting different agencies inspired me to further deepen my understanding of the use of technology in advertising.”


Eleni Los, Germany

“Being one of thousands of marketing students in the UK can be quite intimidating at times. Carefully peering at other student’s creative portfolios and work experience makes you question your own abilities on a regular basis. But when asking these ad agencies, including major players such as Ogilvy, what skills they were looking for, they didn’t talk about adobe cc or your postgraduate degree. Without exception everyone replied that first and foremost “you have to be a peoples person”. Because no matter how talented you are, you’re going to work together with other people constantly and if you’re unsure about how to do something, someone else might know. And that is something that really stuck with me.”


Yu-Wun Wang, Taiwan

“It was a definitely an irreplaceable experience for me visiting these six agencies in London. We didn’t just look around their office, but we had a chance to gain a further understanding of their work. Because they were so different, it was really great to hear their core values and the methodologies they are applying. Additionally, this experience inspired me to learn more about digital marketing to get a chance work with them in the future.”


Tape Thititorn, Thailand

“L – Lucky
O – Opportunities
N – New
D – Dimensions
O – Of
N – Nonstop
W –  Wealth
E –  Education
E – Excellent
K – Knowledge

London Week 25-27 October 2016”

A Theory of Future Media

This article is intended to add some background and additional thinking to Mike Villiers-Stuart’s recent blog on Working Methodologies (Villiers-Stuart, M. 2016), in which Mike presents three strategic methodologies. In the context of these frameworks, we need to consider how we can deliver strategic approaches that bring value in a constantly changing landscape of digital channels and platforms. In short, how can we develop an effective digital methodology?

Mark Brill, Oct 2016

 Platforms, Channels and Tactics 

“There was a time when people felt the internet was another world, but now people realise it’s a tool that we use in this world.”  Tim Berners-Lee

Since the explosion of the internet in the mid-1990s we have seen the continued growth of digital marketing channels (Meeker, M. 2015). Within the broad definition of ‘online’ there are an increasing number of devices that offer opportunities for brand advertising; desktop/laptops, smartphones, tablets and, potentially, wearable devices. Eventually we might even include the connected fridge as a platform. These technologies have driven the emergence of new platforms and media channels, specifically web, mobile or social media. These channels have led to a plethora of formats from display ads to paid search to native content or video ads. These formats are best described as tactics that brands can deploy in their advertising. As a result of this combination of platforms, channels and tactics, marketing and advertising has become an increasingly complex landscape.

The other side of this challenge is that consumer behaviour in the brand context has become similarly complex. Arguably, our basic human needs, as defined by Maslow remain largely the same. The difference is that these needs are being played out in many different places. Way, way back, before the internet, advertising and marketing had limited touch points. The aim of advertising was to create something memorable, such as a jingle, a catch phrase or a concept, in the hope that consumers would remember them later at the point of purchase. In the UK the 1980s was a heyday for creative advertising. People such as John Hegarty (Levi’s 501), John Webster (Cadbury Smash, John Smiths, Courage Best) or Tony Kaye (Real Fires, British Rail, Dunlop) were writing adverts that were memorable, often repeated, and memed in playgrounds.

In today’s digital landscape the problem is not simply the numerous channel options, but also that consumers adopt new ones faster than brand advertising. Larry Downes’ identifies an increasing gap between these two groups (Downes, L. 2009) due to the exponential growth of the technology that drives digital media. It means that brands in digital are constantly playing catch-up with their audience.


The Role of Planning and Strategy

‘If you have all the research, all the ground rules, all the directives, all the data — it doesn’t mean the ad is written. Then you’ve got to close the door and write something — that is the moment of truth which we all try to postpone as long as possible.’ David Ogilvy

The primary purpose of advertising and marketing is to create brand value, sell products and services, and through that, to create a return on investment (ROI). Simply placing adverts without any strategy in a complex digital media landscape is unlikely to deliver a return. Although some brands have tried this approach, advertising needs something more than just a ‘spray and pray’ strategy.

As early as the 1960s, even with fewer channel choices than now, it became apparent to some advertising UK execs that account managers could not rely on intuition or guesswork to develop their campaigns. Two people are credited with the development of the discipline known as planning; Steven King at JWT and Stanley Pollitt at BMP (Morison, M A et al 2012). They believed that they could produce much better results for clients if advertising professionals looked beyond pure marketing research and interpreted data in a more meaningful way. The discipline has since matured, or to use an advertising term, ‘rebranded’ into a range of roles. The Account Planning Group[1] lists a dozen key positions, and creative recruitment sites include terms such as account planner, strategic planner, strategist, creative strategist, and an old favourite, ‘brand anthropologist’ (Morison M A et al, 2012, Pg 7). The precise definition of who does what, and especially, who is more important in the pecking order, seems to be cause for considerable debate. Tracy Fellows, Chair of the Association of Account Planning said there is “a culture emerging in our industry that isn’t clear on what strategy is or what it does.” (Tiltman, D, 2011). In spite of this confusion, there are some broad principles that underpin the discipline that go beyond a single job definition. Some would even argue that job definitions are in fact, irrelevant.[2] Ultimately any strategy aims to take a brand from pain to gain – identifying a problem and finding a solution. That boils down to understanding research, developing some insight and through that, offering the brand a creatively led solution or ‘a moment of truth’. Regardless of what we title it, strategy is a meeting of analysis and creativity.

The Rise of Digital

Even in the 60s, the amount of market research was too much for an account manager to interpret (Morison M A et al, 2012). Now, with an explosion of digital channels we have many more measures and research data. Along side the market research offered by companies such as Nielsen, Kantar, IPSOS and Comscore, planners, or strategists for that matter, can also access some exotic analytics data generated from digital channels. Typically it covers usage information, such as web or app analytics[3] that works in conjunction with primary research conducted by a brand or agency.


Tom Fishburne, Marketoonist.com

At the other end of the process is the deployment of marketing and advertising. What tactics will the marketer use in order to deliver the strategy? As new platforms develop, tactics will inevitably change. The shift and the resulting opportunities to advertisers in digital platforms has been closely tracked for some years by Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends. Other indicators of a shift include Google’s ad revenue for search and display, which has nearly doubled to $20bn in a decade (Reported in Ad Week, July 2016), and social media advertising, where Facebook has seen revenues go from zero to $3.3bn in less than 10 years (Seetharaman, D. 2016, WSJ).

Such rapid growth creates a confusing landscape in which to deploy brand engagement. One example is the Internet Advertising Bureau’s Ad Unit Portfolio[4] which shows hundreds of options for just one of many advertising channels, display advertising. Another indicator of this is the growth is in technology providers in the digital landscape. Scott Brinker in the Chief Marketing Technologist blog found that the number of players in the market almost doubled between 2014-15[5].

The challenge for advertising agencies that stems from a changing landscape is that of risk. How do we prove engagement in new, emerging channels? Brands, by their very nature, tend to be risk-averse and shy away from what they see as untried channels. Therefore the role of strategy becomes more important in helping brands to understand the new landscape and manage that risk (and, of course, to spend the money).

Technology as a Tool

One of the biggest challenges of the modern digital landscape is that particular platforms or technologies drive a campaign. It’s not unusual to hear a client say ‘put a QR[6] code on it’ , ‘we want an app’, ‘let’s use iBeacons[7]’ or ‘we want an augmented reality campaign’. In some ways it is understandable. An emerging platform such as the smartphone is very feature driven, and thus the technology is at the forefront. The challenge is that tech-driven thinking is not strategic. All it is doing is describing the tools to deliver a campaign. Imagine that you hired a plumber to fix a broken pipe, not on their ability to do the job, but based on the particular wrench they were going to use? It’s no different in advertising. Describing a technological feature fails to show an understanding of the audience or the context in which they might be engaged. It’s important to keep in mind that the technology itself is agnostic – there is nothing wrong with it – but without a strategy it is often used poorly.

Furthermore a lack of strategy in emerging platforms creates a ‘me too’ approach – using a channel simply because everyone else seems to be doing it. When some brands are early into a channel and see a small measure of success, others jump on the bandwagon. User generated content in social media is a good example of this. There’s a Tumblr dedicated to this, called tellusyourstoryblog.tumblr.com, that documents numerous brands that have asked users to share their story. The most surprising of these is PreparahionH, the pile cream. A strategic approach (and common sense) might reveal that another ‘send us your selfie’ campaign is not the best way to engage an audience in this context.

From Pain to Gain: Strategic Methodologies

Today’s planning discipline in advertising agencies is essentially an applied practice rather than a theoretical concept. Although there are supporting theories, strategic methodologies are rooted in a practical delivery of a campaign to an audience – the straight forward pain-to-gain process. An effective strategic tool can be understood in three stages; research, insight and creative. Within each stage there are a number of smaller processes that contribute to the development of the strategy. Although it is often described in a linear way, the reality is that development doesn’t always take a such simple path. For example, creative might be considered at an early stage in the process then reviewed or changed following further strategic insights.

In a complex digital world, this process can understandably become confusing. In order to formulate an effective strategy it is therefore necessary to use a framework, such as DPDDD, SOSTAC or Storyscaping. These are not solutions that can provide an answer, but instead are tools that describe the flow of development in which to deliver an effective, meaningful strategy.

Strategic Realists

Realists or cynics? It all depends on your perspective. With the rise of digital channels, strategic methodologies have become more complex. Inevitably, some argue that it creates an unnecessary mystification of the process. Chief amongst these is Byron Sharp (2010). He proposes that advertising is not sufficiently underpinned by empirical research and suggests that the objectives of many strategic methodologies are false. Strategists may focus on creating brand value through storytelling that will deliver brand fans or advocates. Advertisers will cite passion brands such as Harley Davidson or Apple who deliver a brand story that creates advocates who will purchase more frequently and encourage others to do so. The most referenced example of such brand fans are those that have the Harley Davidson tattoo. Sharp’s research identifies the concept of a fan as largely a myth and that the purchase/repurchase rate is similar for most brands. A little more vociferous in his argument is Bob Hoffman, Ad Contrarian (2007). A long-standing ad-man, Hoffman believes that brand strategists are mistaken in identifying consumers as ‘fans’. He suggests that what is described as ‘brand advocacy’ is nothing more than convenience and habit. He would go so far as to argue that brands are misled by their agencies who are creating something of ‘an emperor’s new clothes’ about what is fundamentally a simple process. He suggests that this is why brands will deliver inappropriate campaigns such as social media ‘Tell Us Your Story’, smartphone apps that are hardly used, and banner ads that are rarely clicked on. The Advertising Realists believe that it is really not that complicated. Arguably it’s in the interests of agencies (and their fees) to make it seem so. The Strategic Realists are typified by an irreverent, almost punk spirit that seeks to break down much of the pompousness of current advertising strategy. An Open Letter to All of Marketing and Advertising is a good example of this approach (Anon, 2010), which ends with the plea:

‘If you’d like to tell me what’s good about your product, fine. I may buy it. I may not …But, not to put too-fine-a-point on it, please, please, PLEASE, if you wouldn’t mind, awfully. Leave me alone. Thanks.’

Tools for The Job

All of this presents our core question. Which strategic methodology, if any, is the most appropriate? Perhaps the solution is to take a strategic approach to strategy itself. Just as technology is a tool, a strategic framework is simply there to deliver a job. The job of good advertising. That choice of tool should consider the values of the agency, the needs of the client and the campaign objectives. Thus, the DPDDD methodology is an effective tool for clients who are results driven, looking for an end-to-end solution. SOSTAC, on the other hand, is designed to meet the needs of a marketing-led approach. Storyscaping is a more in-depth tool that can help build the brand idea, especially in an omni-channel landscape. Storyscaping lends itself well to engagement for passion brands but it may over complicate the process where consumers are uninvolved with the brand, such as the classic FMCG product, a packet of soap powder.

These are just examples of how the tools might be applied and are far from exhaustive. Ultimately the choice of methodologies should be underpinned by the basic principles of strategy – identify some relevant research, critically assess it to create some insight and develop creative that meets the needs of the brand.


Villiers-Stuart, M. Overview: Working the Methdology, 2016,

Meeker, M. Internet Trends 2016, 2015, KPCB

Morison, MA et al Using Qualitative Research in Advertising, 2012 (2nd Ed) Sage Publications

Downes, L, The Laws of Disruption:Harnessing the New Forces That Govern Life and Business in the Digital Age, 2009, Basic Books

Tiltman, D. The death of the big idea and the future of strategy, 2014, Brand Report

Seetharaman, D. Facebook Revenue Soars on Ad Growth, 2016, WSJ

Sharp, B. How Brands Grow, What Marketers Don’t Know, 2010, OUP

Hoffman, B. The Ad Contrarian, Getting beyond the fleeting trends, false goals, and dreadful jargon of contemporary Advertising, 2007

Anon, An Open Letter to All of Advertising and Marketing, 2010, PSFK

[1] There is a list of key planning roles to be found at http://www.apg.org.uk/#!apg-planningjobguide/c1lkf

[2] This might be controversial to some who believe the difference is significant, such as Jinal Shah who argued the importance of the planner vs strategist definition in his Constant Beta blog: http://jinalshah.com/2012/05/29/lets-fuckin-set-the-record-straight-account-planners-and-digital-strategists-are-not-the-same/

[3] These kinds of analytics are typically drawn from individual web-site based logs into formats such as Google Analytics. In addition there are aggregations of this data through tools such as GS Stats Counter or Google Trends to highlight just two.

[4] The IAB Ad Unit Portolio [http://www.iab.net/adunitportfolio] looks at ‘display ads’ such as web banners, mobile and video advertising formats.

[5] A rise from 947 in 2014 to 1,876 in 2015 http://chiefmartec.com/2015/01/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2015/

[6] QR codes originated as a means of tracking parts in the vehicle industry. They were adopted in Japan as a means of delivering a URL to a mobile device due to the complexities of translating Japanese into Roman-type URLs. However, there are few examples of successful campaigns in Europe and the US. I discussed this problem with Graham Charlton at Econsultancy (2013) in the following blog post: https://econsultancy.com/blog/62397-qr-codes-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

[7] I looked at the challenge for Beacons in this blog post: http://brandsandinnovation.com/2014/10/28/beacons-the-saviour-of-retail-probably-not/

Overview: Working the Methodology

Here is a brief explanation and some sketches of the model I put together in class to help frame the workflow around the methodologies we use in our projects on the programme.

So far, we’ve opened up 3 methodologies and all of them are workflows: SOSTAC is a marketing tool, DPDDD is a project process and Storyscaping is about building experience spaces.

All 3 perform many of the same functions: they generate insights to inform decision-making. They are proven pathways to professional practice, good templates for our research and essential check-lists in our project management.

1. SOSTAC http://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-strategy/sostac-model/ developed by PR Smith, examines:

Situation Analysis…/…Objectives…/…Strategy…/…Tactics…/…Actions…/…Control

2. DPDDD http://blogs.bcu.ac.uk/futuremedia/2013/06/05/future-media-the-new-rules-of-digital-communication/ attributed to McCann Digital, looks at:


3. Storyscaping http://www.storyscaping.com/educators/ created by SapientNitro’s Gaston Legorburu and Darren McColl, integrates:

Brand values and customer experiences in shared story systems.

We often “pick ‘n mix” from all 3 methodologies to help us frame our projects, describe what we are doing and structure our workflows, reports and presentations.

The illustrations here flow in a linear fashion: from research… to insights… to decisions… to measurement… because good ideas have to be rooted in relevance and guarantee returns:

1. I’ve located the brand at the beginning of the whole issue because this is often the ‘hero’ to be championed in our business and marketing objectives. We usually want to build or extend brand value to customers and so increase the premium. The plan is to deliver a good user experience, this will help build positive perceptions, loyalty and ultimately the bottom line… (See de Chernatony et al Creating Powerful Brands 2013 for lots more on this).


2. The brand is a shared collection of values and experiences between its products/services and their users. It’s in this shared intersection that the brand community is established as a “we” located between “us” and “them”; some online examples include https://www.pottermore.comhttp://www.redbull.tvhttps://members.hog.comhttps://discussions.apple.com/welcome


3. Brands need to constantly monitor and audit that relationship amongst their users… and amongst their competitors in the sector. How are “we” performing? Are “we” competitive? Are “we” value for money? How can “we” improve? What insights can “we” get from industry? What insight can “we” get from our customers?


4. All this data and information comes from real people through primary market research  and industry or academic/published sources as secondary market research. It is a measure of the shared experience between the brand and its users. This data is valuable insight that helps us to build representative ‘personas’ from our demographic samples. These personas and their lifestyles are the brand’s targets.


5. The personas help us to ‘position’ the brand in its competitive sector and map users’ ‘perception’ of the brand. Is this where “we” thought the brand was located? Is this where “we” want to be? Where do the brand’s personas want it to be located? How can they get maximum value? Where does the brand need to be located to deliver the best experience?


6. The brand uses this positioning and these perceptions to map a journey of where it needs to be by plotting a trajectory into the personas’ preferred location. This is a journey the brand its going to have to make if it wants to adapt and change its users’ perceptions and behaviours. Along the way, it will have to ‘reach’ its personas by hitting touch points in their lives as ‘super fans’, ‘fans’ and ‘potential fans’ of the brand.


6a. And it’s the lifestyles of those personas as super fans, fans and potential fans that lights the way. The stuff they care about, the language they speak and the media they consume is all essential insight into how “we” communicate with each other. The persona insights show us how to organise our creative direction, strategy and planning. They give the brand its “Organising Idea” (Legorburu G, McColl D, Storyscaping  2014) that curates all the other ideas e.g. “Taste the Magic” (Coca Cola 2016).


7. Now the brand can plot that journey, it can plan its trajectory of added value by optimising personas’ touch points in a ‘narrative curve’ (Campbell J, The Hero with a Thousand Faces 2008) that targets media platforms and channels to tell a story and deliver relevant communication through shared experiences that are in line with what personas want. The insights from 5 and 6 show the brand where to find the super fans, fans and potential fans, how to key into their habits and how engage them. This is their shared ‘user journey’.


8. And the effectiveness of that user journey is measurable when ‘key performance indicators’ reflect word of mouth and buzz around persona touch points as communications activity ripples out across channels and platforms in owned, bought and earned media. In turn, this will give projections around return on investment as well as offering the potential to exploit the product life cycle (Vernon R, International Trade and International Investment in the Product Life Cycle 1966) with opportunities for brand extensions and monetization through transmedia and merchandising at key stages along the way (growth, maturity, decline or set-up, climax, resolution).


That’s it for now… We’ll unpack all the above in greater depth as this semester unfolds; I just wanted you to have a copy of this overview from our first 2 classes as a reference for any thoughts you might want to develop in your assignment, as something to accompany my videos slide stacks and a general picture to work with going forwards.

Battle of the Titans: Yandex vs Google

Have you ever heard such a word a word as “Yandex”? If so, you might have dealt with Russian internet market or you are an expert in digital industry and aware of key players on international scale. For those, who has no idea what Yandex is, this post will be interesting and hopefully informative.

The history of Yandex started in late 80’s. The site that we know today was created in 1997. In 1998 except usual search Yandex added the option of searching by dates, which gave users sort of multiplicity. Besides the number of indexed pages was much higher than any other search engines at the market at that time.

In 1999 the team of Yandex marketers launched a TV commercial with a slogan “Everything is findable”, which was very unusual, particularly for a post-soviet audience.  Despite the fact that people hardly understood the meaning of the slogan, history demonstrates that they checked the website at least because it was known.  As a result, audience was growing tremendously and in 2000 Yandex was recognized as a number one search engine in Russia.

Automatically set homepage has played an important role in Yandex success. During the period of uncontrolled soft very often as a result of downloading any soft Yandex has been set as a homepage. Users weren’t aware of methods to remove it and consequently left the page by default. That clearly has illustrated the fact that Yandex leveraged users’ incompetence to hold its position at the market at the time of the Internet development in Russia.

Google came at Russian market in the end of 2004. Traditionally Google volume of audience maintains comparatively low due to Yandex monopoly. However, as it might be seen from the graph below Google had a strong surge in the number of users in 2014.


This stat prompted me to compare these two web giants, to better understand their pros and cons and clarify which search engine has more chances to dominate the Russian market.

  Yandex advantages

    • Language issues are easily tackled by Yandex. In addition, the Russian search engine is better at understanding CrazyFont: writing in Russian using English, rather than Cyrillic letters. CrazyFont is the most popular among Russians living abroad who don’t have access to a Russian keyboard. Yandex understands the complex searches better and therefore, returns more results.
    • Regional search results are more relevant. It is more likely to find precise information relative to regional news in Yandex rather than in Google.
    • Integration with Yandex services as mail, traffics, weather forecast, cloud storage, maps, web wallet, news. Everything is on the main page and accessible in one click.screensho44t

The design is a matter of preferences, for those, who are a fan of minimalism, there is a special version of Yandex with domain name ya.ruscreenshddotGoogle advantages

        • Higher relevancy of search results, which lies in different ways of ranking. Google is more content orientated, web site optimization is a core element of being ranked highly by Google. Things are much simpler with Yandex, search engine builds his top list based mainly on number of backlinks and its authority (SeoIntelect, 2015).Obviously, this is not the only ranking factor, web sites still need to be user-friendly, have a seamless user journey and quality content. Although Yandex announced in 2014 that the use of backlinks as a ranking factor has been rejected, the experts from “Ashanov and partners” showed that still it significantly affects positioning. Despite the latest attempts of improvements in this field, Yandex is still lagging behind its competitor.
        • Speed of indexing pages is significantly better compared to Yandex, the reason being the differing method of indexing pages. Yandex is gathering new pages in one database and only after filtering put it into users search results. On average Yandex’s update takes 7 days, while Google is indexing new pages and sending it in search results simultaneously. Russian analytical company “Ashanov and partners” measures the speed of indexing pages annually. Google is being an absolute leader.
        • screenshqot
        • Mobile orientation is one of the key, winning tactics that Google has used. Being a default search engine for Android platform, Google reaches the majority of Russian mobile users; Why is this?
        • First of all, it is a crucial aspect for any search engines to become a default one on desktops or mobile devices. Importance of that might be illustrated by Yandex’s example itself. At times, when Apple didn’t allow to set up Yandex as a default search provider on iPhones, Yandex market share on this device accounted for 35%. However, as soon as Yandex was included in a list of possible default search providers, its share has increased by 14%.

          Secondly, mobile phone usage of Google, especially among young audience, is rising. The share of devices, using for Internet access, has been changing fast. According to TNS in 2015 mobile phones share raised by 34 % over last year, along with smart TV and tablets, 41% and 20 % respectively, while desktop’s share went down by 1%.  Picture1

        • The third reason is Android smartphones. The figures from Mail.ru Group report show that 75 % of Russian users have Android platform on their smartphones, that makes Google number one search engine on mobile phones. Moreover, Google is likely to seek a further increase in a share of the mobile audience as the economy shrinks, incomes decline and people prefer cheaper Android phones. It is no wonder why the well thought-out move from Google has led to a remarkable increase in number of users. Last year Russia opened an investigation into Google after the desperate Yandex asked for a review of the U.S. company’s Android mobile operating system. Yandex asked Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service to check if Google is violating Russian regulation. Sergey Libin, Moscow-based analyst at Raiffeisenbank, suspects that “Yandex expects a ruling in its favor and sees it as a silver bullet (Bloomberg, 2014).

Though Yandex may in some ways be better suited to serving the Russian Internet user, after all it is domestic service, Google seems to have an advantage with its wider accessibility. Overall, the reality is that Internet users are migrating to mobile and since Android devices dominate mobile, Google will increase its number of users and probably will be able to catch up with Yandex.


Last week, from March 1st to March 3rd, the MSc junction of BCU Future Media Masters course went to Media Com to openly understand SEO and PPC in the real work environment.

SEO by definition is Search Engine Optimization, for customer acquisition. In SEO one directly invests upon the optimization of the website, for search engine results. The SEO optimization is done collaboratively with the following groups: PR, marketing, and IT. We can pay/bid to get into paid search, however with key words (generic and normal) we can attempt to get a high result on organic search. Comparison websites normally get the highest results because of the various popular search terms. Other activities may also affect search results for a website, e.g. DRTV, DM.

PPC stands for Pay Per Click. The ‘brand’ bids for any search term, the highest bidder gets the top result on Ad placement or paid search. The placement is not so simple, it is dependent on the following factors:
-Google Algorithm
-QS, quality score.
-Bid relevancy.

Bidding on competitor brand terms, or having little importance for the term on your landing page, with a low QS, your bid must be significantly higher. While brand terms ganerate low CPA (Cost per action), they cost less, than generic terms (expensive*) used a lot by competitors and aggregators.

CPA, is all about making clicks to convert.

sharing economy

Sharing Economy: the ‘use, don’t own’ notion

Traditionally, the consumer’s behaviour has been immersed in a linear economy in which products are made, used and disposed of. Nevertheless, since 2014 a new trend has been taking place: the sharing or circular economy.

Under this new system, the consumption of products and services is moving from owning to sharing and renting. This encourages reusing and recycling in order to give a better use of goods and skills, which not only provides an innovative experience but also an economical benefit.

The ‘use, don’t own’ notion

According to Vincent Rousselet, director of consultancy Vincent Rousselet & Associates, there are 4 factors that have been essential in the spring and development of this peer to peer consumption model:

  • The recent credit crunch has made people reconsider their consumption patterns.
  • The increased development of the internet and the global connectivity
  • The tracking of user online behaviour provides valuable, predictive insights (big data)
  • The rise in the user’s consciousness of the consequences of consumerism, regarding specifically the global climate change.

So far, the technological platforms are the foundation and main channels that let this collaborative system evolve around the world. The Nesta report ‘Making Sense of the UK Collaborative Economy’, states that in 2014 “25 per cent of UK adults used internet technologies to share assets/resources over the last year.”

Some of the most outstanding examples are Airbnb and Uber. The first one encourages individuals to share their homes for short periods of time while the latter transforms private cars into resources for public transportation. Most of these companies are for-profit services that only keep a small fraction of the fees charged.

According to the Journalist’s Resource, Airbnb has over 10 million guest-stays on their records and 500.000 properties listed while Uber is doubling its profits every 6 months.

Even though this economic model has worldwide detractors that argue it replaces secure jobs through a trend of part-time, low-paid work, there are already around 860 start-ups in this sector. Accounting for 1 in 10 of these, the UK is the European capital of the sharing economy.

Stand out start-ups

Since these peer-to-peer services are an alternative towards the fulfillment of the different consumption patterns, there are several start-ups that are worth noting due to its creativity or valuable contribution to a more sustainable socio-economic model:

1. Feeding Forward (United States)

Sharing economyThis platform allows any kind of business can request a pick up of their food surplus. Considered to be a donation, it is afterwards delivered to nearby shelters in need. The objective is to allow companies to receive a tax reduction and reduce disposal costs while ending hunger in the world.

 2. Fon (Spain)

Sharing economyThrough millions of hotspots around the world, it enables users to share their WiFi network in exchange of getting this service for free in any of the 16 countries that are part of their network. It started with residential wireless connection only and then moved forward to small, medium and large venues.

 3. Misterbnb (United States)

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 03.03.11With 30.000 hosts in 130 countries, this is the largest gay travel accommodation in the world. The objective is to develop a sense of belonging by helping this community to travel safely while learning local insider tips.

 4. Hassle (United Kingdom)

sharing economyRegardless of the venue (room, flat or even a mansion) this company is able to provide a local professional cleaner in a 60-second online request. No matter if it is a one-off, weekly or a fortnightly clean, the cost per hour will always be the same and it can be refunded if the service is not good enough.

5. Pley (United States)

sharing economySubscription platform that allows families to rent toys for a short period of time (as kids grow). Through a 70% cost reduction and the elimination of clutter, the aim is to raise a playful, creative generation aware of the principles of sharing and waste reduction.

 6. Kiwi (Colombia)

sharing economyAs long as it is legal, this company challenges users to ask them for any kind of service or product. Food, alcohol, electronics, reservations, plane tickets, health care services, clowns and even pranks can be requested. Through a network of national and international providers, Kiwi is capable of providing a 24/7 service in Bogota and Mexico City.

The Sharing Economy has had a smashing beginning. Even though it seems to be a promising land entailing a social, cultural, economic and environmental transformation, it is paramount to create global and local legal frameworks able to regulate its proper implementation.

If this system manages to integrate and assemble the multiple society sectors under a common good premise, in the future we might discover that we are currently in a historic transitional period towards a new worldwide economic model.

Written by Estefanía Jurado Rodríguez

Not Using WeChat Yet? You Might Be in Future!


WeChat was originally known as Weixin, it was created by a Chinese company

The app has more than 600 million registered users, as most of the users are from China, with around 70 million of them from other countries all over the world. The app was originally released at the beginning of 2011, and it comes with a webpage version later on.

Multiple Platforms

WeChat is available for downloading on various platforms, such as iOS phones, Android phones, Windows, Blackberry and Symbian phones. The app offers text chatting as well as the ability to make voice calls to the contacts. Also, there is a broadcasting feature and a walkie-talkie feature. You can broadcast something or talk to a group through voice chats as well. Users can also send stickers to one another through the sticker shop.

Free of charge

WeChat is a free app, so you can use it without making any payments. Voice calls, as well as video calls, are free. Also, you can share your photos or videos as well as an audio message and participate in global chatting. Group chatting is possible with a maximum of 500 members in a group. Bulk messaging is possible along with bulk audio or video files.

Simple Interface

The app comes with an interface that is user-friendly. It is also lightweight and does not use up much of your device resources. The menus are very simple, and even beginners on text chatting or novices will find it easy to communicate. It is easy to sign up, as you only need to provide your phone number. The app then searches your contacts after you give it access.

If you are already familiar with WhatsApp, you will find it easy to transition to WeChat. The menu options are simple, and you can find your way through the app very quickly. Users can send text messages along with a video or an audio file.

The app also allows you to access the camera quickly. You can use the photo filters or add captions to your photos and videos.

Innovative Ways of Communicating

The app brings in several innovative ways of getting acquainted with new contacts and connecting with friends. You can make new friends, locally as well as internationally. For instance, there is the phone shaking feature and the drift bottle feature along with people nearby one. It also has Moments feature, which rather works like the NewsFeed on Facebook. However, you cannot see whether a particular contact is online or not, so in this way it ensures privacy for users.

More reading about Wechat


Curated by Bo Zhang

Guerilla and Experiential Concepts: Its all just a Fad!

In recent years many articles are popping up praising concepts like piggybacking, experiential, viral, buzz marketing etc.
Are these concepts THE solution to get your brand and message across to your target audience no matter what?

Buzz Marketing being “A big Fad!”
In the blog of Joseph Putnam “How to Apply Buzz Marketing Principles for Effective Internet Marketing” the success of Buzz marketing seems to be guaranteed.
“The difference is that the goal of buzz marketing is to get people talking about your brand – not just to make people aware that your brand exists.(…) Most people think it’s something that happens randomly, but in the book Buzzmarketing, author Mark Hughes talks about how buzz can be generated by following a few basic principles. Businesses that follow these principles are much more successful at getting people and news outlets talking about their brand than businesses that only use traditional marketing tactics.”

“A big fad” called Piggybagging
As well as in the blog of Laura Davies “Can piggybagging on viral activity help with your marketing strategy?” the author talks about using Piggybagging as a successful concept to reach the right audience “One thing is clear, the impact of viral campaigns can be huge, but in a few months, weeks or even days they can be easily be forgotten. For brands, “piggybacking” on these trends and campaigns quickly is highly beneficial (…)”

Experiential Marketing “The next pig fad!”
Shareen Pathak who is the author of the blog post “Just What Is Experiential Marketing, and How Can It Be Measured?” mentioned that “Jeff Benjamin, chief creative officer at JWT North America, said experiential is what brands do in the world that get people “participating.” He called it an evolution of what interactive advertising was a few years ago — anything that pulls people into the brand, digitally or physically. “It just has the gas pedal on it now because of social media and technology.”

If one follows up all three blog posts mentioned before and carefully reads them, the question stated at the beginning becomes obsolete. Plus questions like: Are these “new” concepts the Holy Grail of marketing? Can these vessels transport any type of message to any person on the planet? Do they only have to be new and exciting to be appealing? where the answers is no becomes obsolete as well.
This is all due to the progression of marketing itself. As I was putting this blog post together I researched the web for FAD look alike blog posts based on marketing concepts. So far I could not find one single article praising one concepts or idea as the single perfect solution.
It seems that marketing and its experts grew up to the extend where marketing is not a side function of sales anymore but rather a mature, smart and educated industry.
Every article or blog found, mentioned that in the end it’s much more important to identify key trends within the target audience, use the right tone of voice across channels in a coherent way and stay true to what research and data can provide us with.
That said, concepts like piggybacking, experiential, viral, buzz marketing etc. have proven itself to be successful approaches and concepts but only within an appropriate context and with a meaningful and coherent message.
Following marketing 101 rules, these concepts can stay valid overtime but only if the implementation and execution is spot on and inline with a proper strategy.

For instance, Pepsi just proved that experiential marketing can work over time with the same idea as long as it is coherent, hence following the same or an adapted strategy and has meaning to its audience:

Year 2013:

Youtube Facts – Views: 45,216,778, Likes: 155,103

Year 2014:

Youtube Facts – Views: 19,785,451, Likes: 63,740

Although the second #TestDrive was less successful ADWEEK put it on their Ad of the Day page showing that this idea once implemented correctly can produce repeated results: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-jeff-gordon-pepsimax-get-revenge-writer-who-said-test-drive-was-fake-155992

One final word: Thanks marketing for growing up as a sector and especially understanding that ideas and concepts are only one part of you. Plus thanks concepts and technology for making marketing way more creative and diverse than ever before. There are no fads within concepts or ideas but there are people using the marketing tools wrong or in the wrong context – Nevertheless these people seem to become obsolete in a growing and more mature marketing world.

Written and edited by Benjamin Glahe


Defying The Norms

Ah Mid-November, that time of year where everyone turns to the person next to them and exclaims, “Wasn’t it February 5 minutes ago?” while simultaneously our senses are attacked with all things festive.

Around this time has also turned into what now can almost be considered a tradition in the UK, where all the major high street retailers roll out their TV commercials that we will continually see over the next month or so. 2014 saw heavy hitters like Sky with their Step Into Christmas advert (a theme they have continued through with their 2015 advert) and Marks and Spencer with their ‘Magic and Sparkle’ ad.

All this furore about Christmas advertisements was arguably made more important than it ever was by John Lewis in 2011 when they first released their annual tear jerker with ‘The Long Wait’. Since then the release of the John Lewis advert has become an event with the retailer recognising that it gets the whole nation talking.

When the 2011 advert was released 61% of people in the UK said they has spoken about the advert with their friends, a full 36% more than the average UK retail norm. This popularity was also echoed on social media, after John Lewis released the commercial via Facebook the number of Tweets about the store rocketed from below 2000 to almost 16,000 in the space of two days.

With these adverts John Lewis completely transformed their brand image to make themselves more emotionally relevant. Everything from brand perception to customer visits per year to sales, were all dramatically improved thanks to the new direction they had taken.

And so 2015 swings around along with John Lewis’ next instalment ‘Man On the Moon’, a moving story about a young girl who discovers the man living alone on the moon and her quest to get a present to him for Christmas. 2014’s Monty the Penguin was an incredible success but the Man On the Moon has smashed John Lewis’ own records with 23,000 mentions on social media in the first two hours of its release and at the time of writing of this article has amassed over 12 million views in less than a week.

On first viewing ‘The Man On the Moon’ continues John Lewis trend for creating emotional commercials that resonate strongly with viewers, but once you dig a little deeper you start to see that John Lewis have changed direction slightly. Perhaps in an attempt to make themselves a much more valuable brand.

For a brand to be defined as “valuable” it means that they offer something back to society, much like certain brands in America such as Microsoft do with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations. Although not quite on the scale of Microsoft, with the Man On the Moon advert John Lewis have tried to break the stereotype of what a Christmas advertisement is and collaborated with a charity, in Age UK, to raise awareness of older people that will be spending Christmas on their own this year.

It’s an extremely bold move by John Lewis, the nature of the world we live in today with the immediacy of social media is that people can express their opinions in a swift and critical manner. Barely a few days after the release of the advert there were already parody videos and articles criticising the advert.

Writing for The Independent, Dr Patrick Lonergan (Lecturer of Consumer Culture at Nottingham Trent University) stated;

“So for me, this ad typifies what we do as consumers. To ease our sense of vulnerability, frailty and lack when confronted with images of perfection, we peer through a lens that distorts reality and allows us to momentarily escape the sometimes bleak, cold, lonely aspects of daily life.”

It was cold, unblinking look at the commercial by Dr Lonergan and while to some degree he’s right, at the end of the day it is an advertisement meant to encourage and develop the customers’ perception of John Lewis with the ultimate goal of getting said customers through the doors but I still feel he may slightly miss the point John Lewis are trying to make it.

Criticism, such as Dr Longergan’s, is perhaps part of the reason the charity involved are not mentioned in the advertisement. Speaking to a representative of Age UK he expressed that despite there being no direct mention of Age UK in the commercial it has not done the brand any harm, if Age UK’s name had been attached some people may have spoken out about the brand in a negative way, much like people have with John Lewis.

Utilising their commercial to promote awareness of isolated people is not the only way that John Lewis are breaking the stereotype of what Christmas adverts are, for the first since John Lewis started this trend their titular character is a girl. Not only that, but if you pay attention throughout the advert you see that Lily is playing with toys not stereotypically associated with her gender, toys such as telescopes, Lego and scooters are all featured. This is perhaps not that surprising when you consider that the advert is directed by Kim Gehrig, the same Kim Gehrig who directed the Sport England ‘This Girl Can’ campaign.

At the end of the day yes, this is just a Christmas advert continuing the same style John Lewis introduced four years ago featuring the John Lewis brand and their brand only but the Man On the Moon marks a different direction for the company. Showcasing different gender norms and encouraging awareness of a charity, that in the week since the advertisement aired have already seen a dramatic upturn in the people submitting requests to spend time with people who have no one this Christmas, can only be a good and something to be applauded.

Considering how talked about John Lewis adverts have been over the years, it will be interesting to see whether the Man On the Moon has any impact on sales over the next year and even more interestingly whether John Lewis employ the same defying-the-norm tactic for their commercial in 2016.

Matthew Gibbs

The New Future Media Team Pt 2

Here is the second part of our previous blogpost introducing the new Future Media students, The new team have been around for nearly a month now and are getting used to the various process and life in Birmingham.


Name: Michala Zapletajova

Michala Zapletajova
Place of birth: Martin Slovak republic
Area of speciality: marketing and advertising
Star Sign: Leo
1 word about you: sweet and communicative
Favourite social media platform: Instagram
Least favourite social media platform:
5 things that interest you: learning new things, exploring new places, spending time with family and friends, shopping, watching documentaries
Favourite movie: The Prestige
Favourite meal: Salmon with Potatoes
Favourite brand: River Island
Vodka or Whiskey/Cognac: Vodka
Last book you read: Inferno, Dan Brown
Most visited blog: Atlantic-Pacific (fashion blog)
Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? (in 160 characters) I would like to have a good job in marketing/advertising industry, developing my skills and making progress. Maybe I´ll try to have my own little advertising company.

Name: Matt Harrison

Matt Harrison
Matt Harrison

Place of Birth: North Wales, St Asaph
Area of Speciality: Web Design, Video Editing, Photography
Star Sign: Pisces
1 word about you: Perfectionist
Favourite social media platform: Vimeo
Least favourite social media platform: Google+
5 things that interest you: Creative Design, Epic Film + TV, Physics, Psychology, Health + Fitness
Favourite movie: Independence Day
Favourite meal: Jack Daniels Beef Burger with Sweet Potato Fries
Favourite brand: Blur
Vodka or Whiskey/Cognac: Whiskey
Last book you read: The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
Most visited blog: www.maddox.xmission.com
Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? (in 160 characters) Although at the time of writing I’m in the early stages of my Masters in Future Media, I would like to see myself working for a digital marketing company as a campaign coordinator or UX specialist. I feel as though I have a massive amount a creativity just waiting to burst out when working with the right project. Only time will tell.

Name: Lennon Andrew Ricardo Chandler.
Lennon Chandler
Place of birth: Bridgetown, Barbados.
Area of specialty: Creative direction/Conceptualization.
Star sign: Leo (rawr).
1 Word about you: Dreamer.
Favourite social media platform: It’s a tie between Instagram and Pinterest.
Least favourite social media platform: Google + hands down is my least favourite. Haven’t accessed it since 2012.
5 things that interests you: Aviation, music, illustration (comics and video games especially), modern architecture and food (cooking and eating).
Favourite movie: Shamefully, The Devil Wears Prada stands out.
Favourite meal: Lasagna, even though I’m not supposed to eat cheese. Aw well, #YOLO.
Favourite brand: An airline of all things is my favourite brand. jetBlue!
Vodka or Whiskey/Cognac: I’m more of a wine drinker. Hard liquor ends badly for me.
Last book you read: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. How profound of me…
Most visited blog: Not really a blog, but, www.airliners.net.
Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? (in 160 characters): Prospering, of course. A senior creative direction role within an agency or a brand. I’d love for my magazine, MUZE Caribbean to also take off spectacularly!

Name: Emmanuel
Emmanuel Ochoga
Place of birth: Otukpo Nigeria
Area of speciality: Interested in Branding
Star Sign: Capricorn
1 words about you: perfectionist
Favourite social media platform: Linkedln
Least favourite social media platform: Tumblr
5 things that interest you:
Watching News Tv station, Watching EPL, Listening to Gospel music, Playing with my wife and children, Travelling
Favourite movie: Coming to America
Favourite meal: Hmmm Basmati Rice and vegetable source
Favourite brand: Apple
Vodka or Whiskey/Cognac: Naaaa! Don’t do any
Last book you read: Advertisement for Dummies
Most visited blog: www.virgin.com/richard-branson
Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? (in 160 characters) I see myself as a top notch branding and marketing consultant, with a PhD in the related field. Could also be lecturing and preaching the gospel alongside.

Name: Mon
Monika Stepien
Place of birth: Poznan, Poland
Area of speciality: research, planning
Star Sign: Cancer
1 word about you: hard-working,
Favourite social media platform: Youtube
Least favourite social media platform: Google+
5 things that interest you: music, film, social media, literature, street fashion
Favourite movie: Pulp Fiction
Favourite meal: Dumplings made by my Dad
Favourite brand: Asos
Vodka or Whiskey/Cognac: Vodka (Absolut Vanilia)
Last book you read: Women by Charles Bukowski
Most visited blog: http://www.onlydeadfish.co.uk/only_dead_fish/
Where would you like to be in the next 3-5 years? (in 160 characters)
In the next 3-5 years I would like to be a successful woman with a happy family. I would love to work as a brand or media strategist. We spend 5 days a week at work, so obviously I would like to work in a place which would make me feel enthusiastic about getting up early in the morning and going to work… I want my job to be my pleasure. A perfect place would McCann or Asos.

The new bunch are heading off to London for various agency visit’s next week stay tuned to find out how they got on in the capital city.