Digital rule #1: Don’t host where you register

One of the challenges of digital strategy is that you are – in most instances – wedded to a history of previous technology decisions. So while you may come in to an organisation to overhaul the strategy, you might find yourself constrained by some bad search engine optimisation, platform and publishing choices or hosting restrictions.

Generally these kind of problems can be undone with time. With money. With resources.

But there is one particular challenge that can be terribly difficult to unlock. And it happens at the very beginning of your digital journey – with your domain name registration.

Domain names are like your business name on the internet. They tell everyone where to find us. We all know that to order a book online, we visit Amazon.com. To search, we visit Google.com or Bing.com. These are domain names.

To get one of these domain names, we need to register that name with a Domain Name Registrar. These are companies that are authorised to sell and manage domain names. Popular registrars include GoDaddy.com, NetRegistry.com.au in Australia – and many others.

But registering your domain name is like registering your business name. You may register with the relevant authorities, but you don’t setup your business in the same office. You do so elsewhere.

And you should do the same with your domain name and your online business.

When you register your domain name, you will usually be offered hosting. That means that you will be provided space online to upload your website. While this may be convenient – and perhaps even cheap (or free) – I tend to avoid this situation.

Like any business, domain name registrars go through ups and downs. And should the registrar’s business fail, it can take your registration details with it.

If you have your website hosted with the registrar, you can lose both the website and the domain name.

I had a client recently who purchased a small business package with one of the country’s largest and most reputable brands. This included domain name AND hosting AND email and more. It sounded like a no-brainer and the package was purchased.

A couple of years down the track this package was discontinued. As it turned out, the domain names were registered through a European registrar (not locally as we expected), and the email, domain name registration and hosting were all outsourced and rebranded locally.

My client had expected that the emails that were being sent were just marketing spam, so ignored them until the website was offline. What followed was literally months of follow-up, documentation and phone calls until the domain name could be transferred.

Even the largest and most powerful brands can change their strategy mid-stream. So even if you are registering your domain name with a brand you know and trust, my advice is to host your website elsewhere. At least if something changes you won’t lose both the name and the business/technology.

Bursting the Blandness Bubble

So much advertising is bland, characterless, unimaginative. It makes me wonder how agencies are briefed and sometimes why. But it’s easy to live in a bubble and only see what you are directed to see. Some days you need to burst that bubble.

You are welcome.

Interaction: GroupM’s Take on Digital

I am always interested to see how different lenses on the same subject reveal insights. For example, B2B marketers have a particular skew when it comes to digital and social media – it is hard edged, data driven and technology enabled. This is particularly true for large scale tech companies – but is an approach that has been resonating across industries for some time. B2C marketing, on the other hand, operates in a high velocity world that can turn on a tweet – responsiveness is no longer just a customer service issue but one that impacts the entire value chain.

We are, after all, ever closer to our customers than ever before.

Social and digital media, however, often feels like it operates in a bubble. An ever-increasing bubble it seems, but a bubble nonetheless. When I watch Gruen, for example, I struggle to recall even the most popular or widely discussed TV commercials shown – my habits have now been so deeply skewed by on-demand viewing and timeshifting that TV by timetable seems so last century.

But this is merely the bubble that we choose. The lens that we select.

And there are movements and trends that continue in their own parallel universe that operate at different speeds.

The GroupM Interaction 2017 report is interesting particularly because it applies a media lens across everything from ecommerce to fake news, television to bandwidth. I particularly like the section on privacy and the impacts that widespread security breaches are having on consumers’ sense of trust.

The report identifies four creative challenges facing both brands and agencies:

  1. Getting the attention of the consumer in a low attention world. As the buyer pushes the seller towards viewability, the consumer is pushing the brand to greater ‘watchability.’
  2. Meeting the costs and measurement implications of the constant iterations of formats and functionality.
  3. Finding the balance of enough variation to meet the needs of ever finer segments without undermining the overall brand proposition. (The Marriott Hotel Bogota has 57 images on Expedia.com. Marriott / Starwood operates over 7000 properties. That’s a lot of images.)
  4. The creation of new classes of content for e commerce environments.

While I can agree on the surface with these challenges, I wonder really whether our attention spans truly are shrinking – do we really have the attention span of a goldfish? And if this is not true, what does this mean for the remaining three challenges?

I have a sense that we are consuming ever-larger volumes of media each and every day – but it’s not necessarily in the format and channel that lends itself to the kind of tracking and measurement that business clients have come to expect.

A recent article from BBC Health questions the notion of the shrinking attention span by unearthing the starting point for this theory – a Microsoft report referencing the Statistic Brain website. Apparently there is no evidence pointing towards a shrinking attention span, nor support for the widely held view that goldfish have attention spans. In fact, Dr Gemma Briggs from Open University suggests that attention is entirely contextual – ”How we apply our attention to different tasks depends very much about what the individual brings to that situation”.

And that brings us back to the question of lenses and touches on the topic of Fake News – a subject also covered in the GroupM report. One of the suggestions in the report points towards the emergence of a “purpose driven media” and an incentive structure created to drive this:

The most shared and most monetized stories come from authentic news sources. A way of decreasing the incentives to the bad guys is to increase the incentives to the good guys. A simple adjustment in the revenue sharing model would go a long way.

And that’s where the future of media becomes extremely interesting. Given the emergence of organisations like Sleeping Giants, a purpose driven media may be a necessary development to help restore trust, authenticity and – dare I say it – respect in the media and advertising industry.

Download the Interaction 2017 report here.

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A Market Like No Other For Goodness Sake

When I was a vegan I became fascinated by the machinery of modern agriculture. And I don’t just mean the tractors – I mean the massive supply chain, refrigeration, logistics, buying and planning mechanisms that bring fresh food to our tables. It seemed that there were more than a million miles between the source of our food and its destination.

It made me realise there were more complexities in the market of markets than I had understood.

In the face of this I wondered what impact a personal choice – such as becoming a vegan – may have on the larger world. What could be achieved by my small, defiant action?

But the road to change is never straight forward or as direct as you’d like. It can sometimes take years for a motivation to move to action. Or for the conditions for success to align like stars in a horoscope.

Over the years, I have learned that good intentions and personal choice only go so far. At some point you have to choose and commit.

And if the times are right and the stars are aligned, something may just happen.

On Sunday, 19 March 2017, a new fresh produce market comes to Sydney. It’s the first ever For Goodness Sake Market.There will be over 50 stalls, including fresh produce, artisanal goods, hot food, coffee, fun for the kids, music and more. It’s a new, regular market in the heart of the city at Royal Randwick – but its roots are deep in the Australian farming world.

Growing up on dairy farms in Western Australia, Clive Burcham could hardly imagine a life spanning continents and working in emerging technology with some of the largest brands in the country. Not only is Clive the driving force behind one of Australia’s leading digital and creative agencies, The Conscience Organisation, he’s been deeply involved in social enterprises that directly impact disadvantage and global poverty. And now he’s turned his attention to his heartland. To farmers and their families.

It’s obviously been a long journey to return to the start – but the world will be a better place for it.

The Fair Farmers Market kicks off on Sunday, 19 March from 8am and will open every Sunday thereafter. There is wheelchair access and parking is by gold coin donation to Ozharvest.

Game Changers: So Bad it’s Good

Is this ad, “The Game Changers” from the Department of Finance, the worst waste of taxpayer’s money or the most ingenious?

Clearly performed by members of the Australian Public Service and not by professional actors, the dialogue comes across as clunky and cliched. Creative Edge’s Dee Madigan calls the ad “hilariously bad”. But I wonder.

It has been revealed that the agency Together Creative has been paid $37,400 for marketing services over four years. That’s around $9000 per year.  Let’s say half of that budget was used on this video aimed to recruit the next wave of graduates to the Finance Department.

With around 130,000 views on YouTube, the video has cost the department around 3c per view. And no doubt those views will continue to climb.

Sure, it may be difficult to watch as you wash your paleo pear and banana bread down with a perfectly balanced almond milk latte, but I can’t remember the last time anyone was talking about working at the Department of Finance. Or maybe that’s just me.