Jamie Elliot: I’m a Yorkshire man okay? I don’t say that because I want to alienate a third of the audience at the outset. I’m not telling you that because I want to explain why I’ve got this strange habit of flattening my vowels out in this otherwise middle-class demeanour. I’m saying it because I think I want to establish myself as the arch cynic and pessimist. Okay? And I went to South by South-West. Suki did a job with explaining south by south-west. Does anyone need any further explanation as to what it is? I went viewing it as a digital jamboree. It was going to be technology for technology’s sake and full of self-indulgent geekery. And I actually have been wronger, if that makes sense! It was absolutely fantastic, because the questions it asked were not the ones that we were expecting it to ask, if that makes sense. And actually it’s far less about technology for technology’s sake, and much more about how technology can change the world for the better and help humanity to be better. That sounds strange coming from a Yorkshire man to some degree, but it was a very very very invigorating experience. And actually Biz Stone who was the founder of Twitter, put it thus: “the change that we are trying to do, and the sorts of things that you’re going to hear about is not a triumph of technology, it’s a triumph of humanity”. It’s not just technology for technology’s sake.
These guys who went, there were five of us and some of you will be reassured to see that there are two bearded people here and there is another bearded person on this side of the camera. So there’s been plenty of bearded input into the content, I think it gives it much more credibility than me standing here. I decided five years ago on reading an article in the Guardian that said that people with facial hair are twenty per cent less trustworthy – never to have any facial hair at all! I didn’t think the combination of advertising and beard was setting me up for general trustworthy in life so I’ve avoided that ever since. What we’ve got are the five questions that we feel we discuss at the end of the day and the end of the conference on the flight back, and that’s what we’re putting to you. Hopefully they are provocative questions, they’re the key questions that we thought came out of our experiences at the conference. I haven’t in fact checked any of this stuff because this is the feat of memory, so none of this is fact-checked, I might get everything wrong. It’s other people’s content so you just can’t blame me okay?
So, the future is (this is a rhetorical question) what’s not to like? We saw this guy Peter Diamandis who is the guy who runs the x-prize foundation and set the big challenges to solve the world’s big questions and issues. He’s a very pugnacious. I want to say he’s from Yorkshire but he’s probably not, he’s from the US! And very very optimistic and he says “the future is going to be utterly fantastic”. It’s going to be abundant, and he’s written a book about it actually which is called abundance and he says that the reasons that people have to be optimistic and believe it’s going to be abundant are because of technology and the speed at which it’s moving. He also says, look at the past, look at recent history, and look at the last hundred years. And in the last hundred years, everything is moving in the right direction. Lifespan is up. Average per capita income is up. Child mortality is down. All of those things are true and there’s no reason to believe that the future won’t be brilliant. The only reason to believe it won’t be brilliant is we’ve all got a little inner Yorkshire man which is our amygdala which is there as our sort of early warning system and danger detector which says to us, I want to say this in a Jimmy Saville or Geoffrey Boycott type voice, which says “it’s going to be gloomy”. Be careful, it’s not so good. You think it’s going to like Bladerunner, but it’s not going to be that good. But he says actually, it’s all fine. I’m sure most of you are familiar with Moore’s Law. The Moore’s Law shows that the pace of change is expediential and it’s very difficult, his point is, to understand and appreciate what expediential change is like.. We’re all used to linear growth, and things in the linear environment. Linear is quite easy to get your head around. 30 steps in the linear environment, means I’m going to be somewhere over by the bar. 30 steps in an expediential growth environment, I’m going to be billions and billions of steps away. The speed of change is very difficult to get your round. 1.000 dollars now, will buy you the computational power of one mouse brain. By 2050 that same 1.000 dollars will buy you computational power of every human brain on the planet. Any issues which you might not believe exist in term of scarcity of resource will be solved in this incredible wave of growth. The new technologies that are riding this are this ever quickening and never to crash way that you flick computing to the cloud, senses and networks, robotics, 3d printing which is going to put the means of production in every single person’s home at some point, if they can afford it, which is an incredible game-changer in terms of the things that will change. Synthetic biology, digital medicine, nano materials and AR. Those things will come together, and mutate and create new things. So the speed of change is just incredibly difficult to get your head round. Additional to this, he says, 3 billion people will join the global conversation by 2020. That’s 3 billion more voices, 3 billion more people adding in solutions and actually 3 billion more people clubbed into the network and spending their money in this new economy. So the future, Diamandis says, is going to be good and it’s coming ever more quickly.
The second question posed by Tim O’Reilly with a fine beard and therefore fine credentials. Tim O’Reilly was the first man to have a commercial page on the World Wide Web. He’s the owner and developer of computer manuals O’Reilly publishing. He’s been around since the very start and I think what struck us about what he was saying was that there’s a lot of debate obviously about capitalism. It’s gone wrong, the bankers are to blame. But actually very people asking the questions that we need to ask about how we move forward from this point. It’s a very binary question. Are you going to create value today or are you going to capture value today? His point is to create a sustainable economy, you’ve got to have more people creating value than you’ve got capturing value and that has tipped in recent times the other way, away from that. So you’ve got people who are destroying the eco-system (which is the economy) rather than adding to it. He uses an example – Microsoft, which he says started out with a very clear higher purpose to begin with which was about putting a computer in every home for the betterment of society. Now, here’s the question and here’s the quote that he makes because he point the gun in our direction. He says, “the point at which companies go wrong is when sales and marketing takes over from engineers”. Because then the focus becomes on profit. It goes away from the product and away from improving the product and improving people’s lives. The cycle of capitalism, he argues, requires both consumers (and it’s the consumers who create the value, not investors) and producers. And what was interesting was that he said “we’re reaching a crunch time”. Because if more people don’t take responsibility and actually want to make a difference and create value, then the problem is that technology will start to take value out of the system as well. If you imagine a world where siri and watson are 16 times more powerful than they are at the moment, you can imagine a world where you might not need a call centre and that takes a massive amount of value out of the system. Someone’s got to be replacing that value. With generation white coming through, they don’t want to be involved to be involved with people. They’re going to do it all themselves, they’re a self-service generation. That’s more value coming out in very simplistic terms in terms of people working and people who can consume, so someone has got to be creating value for value’s sake. I think it poses an interesting question to all of us in the room because it says ‘ if you have a category or a product, what is the thing that’s going to change in people’s lives?’ That’s the only thing that you can think about. If you can’t think about what that will be, and value can mean lots of different things, but if I was in the beer category, should we still be selling commodities with high alcohol content? Products and the lowest common denominator. Or should we be going out there and saying ‘we only want people to drink very little good quality beer’. Because that is better for society. There will be other examples of that around the room. Biz Stone, from Twitter, his view which takes it one step further is that the only sort of marketing that will exist in the future is philosophic marketing. So where you are doing good and spending money on doing good and telling people about the good that you’re doing and maybe, it’s an interesting question when we look at the latest advertising association figures which look back at the last 10 to 15 years, the product which we are creating is valued less and less and less by the people in this country, by the consumers in this country. The downward trend is moving away from us and not positive. So what’s the value that we are creating? Are we just value capturers or can we create value?
Third question. Are you going to be open or closed? It’s a question which everyone asks. It’s a question that’s out there, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary about it. The people from DVH labs made a really good polar comparison. They basically said that the open system is Mag Max and the closed system is Skynet and the terminator. And if you look at those systems, that’s a really good way of looking at the polar optics. So in an open community, you’ve got freedom, you’ve got computer, you’ve got peer, you’ve got review, you’ve got free exchange of ideas, and information. It’s messy, it’s creative, it moves in all sorts of directions and people can make all sorts of different choices as a result of it. It’s Google in many ways. In the closed system you’ve got a system, it’s quite interesting because this event is a closed event. You opt in to it, and you hope that you get to get some value out it. It’s a safe environment in which to do that. The closest way that you chop in wants to the system. It’s all designed around you. You don’t have to make any choices, the whole thing comes to you. It’s desired, it’s useful, it’s authentic, it’s safe, legal, controlled. It’s totalitarian state in many ways and it’s Apple. There’s a great irony in many ways if you look back at the 1984 ad. Steve Jobs – all about thinking differently in a totalitarian state which suddenly is revolting. He was the arch creator of a closed system and effectively a totalitarian state. What was also interesting though was the people talking about “we have to move away from a closed system to find something else”. A couple of guys, Al Gore, Shaun Parker who was the guy who was played by Justin Timberlake in the Social Networks and Rohan Silver, who is a senior policy advisor to George Osborne who are very conscious that one of the great closed systems is government and parliament and they are trying to move away and find a middle ground. Lots of systems which are inherently closed, and there’s lots of guys at South by South-West talking about how they can move away from that and let people into the system. So Rohan Silver was talking about the Red Tape Challenge which was a lot of stuff about allowing people outside of and inside of the civil service to make suggestions about how they can improve processes, practises, policy within that. It caused a massive outcry because obviously it’s letting control away from the centre, letting people in between the lobbyist and the policy makers. It doesn’t always work. And the point that he was making that was an interesting point was that what we think, what we believe in is crowd sourcing but we don’t believe in the sense that we want everyone to import but we want to make sure is that we are getting, so if the issue is how do we best run the NHS. What we want to make sure is that we are getting the crowd that is genuinely capable of improving the practises around the NHS. So we want to make sure that we are getting the biggest crowd that’s in the UK to improve that and we want to understand how in democracy we could actually potentially reward those people becoming part of the process and being part of the solution. So they are talking about the fact that the parliamentary system is closed, and it’s got to be more open but it’s really difficult to do. You would inherently lose control and you leave yourself exposed to journalistic caption cards. So that’s the third question.
The fourth question is “what does it take to be liked?” I really think this is interesting and I think it’s because the US seems to be a lot further advanced than we are and they’re putting a lot more money into social media and they’re asking much more difficult questions of it. The question that we get asked a lot of, the main one still, is actually can we just get our likes up. We’d just like to get our likes up please. The point being made by the guys at RGA in the states was that a like is completely worthless. A like is a misnomer. All it is a click. Nothing actually suggests any greater affection for you or the brand as a result of clicking the like. All it gives you is reach. They’re saying what you have to do is to genuinely understand that to get people to engage with you brand in social media, what you have to do is to genuinely understand what each of the segments that make up your audience actually like and they are different things. So just asking them to like something will only give you 1% of people doing anything thereafter. So their stat is that only 1% of people who actually like something actually go on and do anything thereafter, even very sexy brands. So you’re not really getting anything other than the very crude measure in terms of reach. And they say that you’ve very simply got four segments. You’ve got spectators, collectors, curators and influencers from further away leaning back away from your brand to leaning forward and being interested in it. And they are going to give impressions, the collectors are looking for value, the creators are going to rate and critique you, that’s the sort of relationship they want with you and the influencers are going to want to co-create with you. Spectators are looking for impressions and all they’re after; they just want to like the things that you tell them or the content that you show them. That’s as far as you’re going to get. Collectors are interested in what you give them that’s free. They’re after deals, they’re after competition, they’re after something for free and they are scouring brands for what they can get for nothing and they’ll be very happy with that. The curators, the people who are willing to rate and critique you, are interested in what you can give me that makes me look good within my network. Because I’m curating things and critiquing things and I’m passing things on so that’s what I’m looking for. Can you give me something interesting that going to make me look interesting within my network. And then, finally you’ve got the influences they’re willing to co-create with you. So they’re going, “what can we do together?” What can we do because I’m really really interested in this brand. That is that question.
The final thing, which was a very peculiar talk, which is this lady Prerna Gupta, who owns a company called Khush, who make apps for the iphone, Le De Da and Songify, which they make your bad karaoke good and they make it so that if you just talk into it, they will make it into a song. They will Songify it! She is basically going against the orthodox which is you can’t understand what’s going to make something viral, I have a global product, I have a product that needs to have global reach immediately. It’s an app. How can I ensure that I can spend my money effectively and make things go global? So she said a lot times stalking people on the internet are began looking up, and she analysed every single thing that had gone viral above a hundred million hits, to work out what the common factors were and used them to her advantage. Her 6 building blocks of viral videos were firstly, music…no surprise! Nicking music indiscriminately will do for her. Secondly, surprise of absolutely any sort whatsoever will do. Thirdly cuteness can come in many forms, but it’s mostly cats as we all know! Fourth is humour and that can be anything. Slapstick’s good, parody is good, pastis is good. Fifth is boobs, or boobies, and she literally means boobs and sixth is celebrity. What’s interesting though is actually looking at the viral content that she’s developed on the back of these building blocks because you can see a little journey that she’s gone on in terms of making them more successful and I’m not going to at any point address that one there (points to point number 5). They started very prosaically here with a very simple product demonstration.
So that’s a start point – the product demonstration. A little bit of music, not a lot of surprises. Average cuteness, not a lot of humour, no boobs and absolutely no celebrity. 192,000 hits. So that was before she’s actually done her research and then if you go to where she went next.
There you have, this was her next effort, you’ve got music, you’ve got surprise, you’ve got cuteness, you don’t have boobs and you don’t have celebrity. And then the last one, which is the point at which we went ok! This is weird because it’s being presented in a very peculiar way but you can’t argue with 49 million hits, and quite a lot of downloads on the back of it. And this is basically just to use someone else out there who is getting an awful lot of hits and just to piggy back what they’re doing.
So basically all of the singing done in that was done through Songify, and there is a guy who comes on the end is the guy who is the key of awesome producer who is regularly getting 50 million hits. He comes on at the end and says “I did all this through Songify” and they are now, you can’t argue with the stats, they are in the top 10 in terms of downloads of music. And it just got us thinking, you know, we’re very precious about creativity, there’s very little creativity in that. She’s gone “there are six rules and I’m going to mash it all together and see what hits, and some of it does”.
I’m just going to re-cap on the questions, not the ones we were expecting. In the future what’s not to like? It’s going to be brilliant. Are you creating more value that you’re capturing? It will only be brilliant if more of you are doing that. Are you going to be closed or open? Are you going to get to a real deeper understanding of what it is to be liked and are we going to commit more money to doing that in the UK versus the US? And the final challenge is can we beat 49 million views? And there were only two ads that I could find, an Evian ad and something else which was sort of about 49 million. So it’s a decent challenge! Thank you.