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THE DIGITAL
    REVOLUTION IS
      LEAVING THE
       CONSUMER
           BEHIND




MY
BRAIN
HURTS
We must help              By:
                          Simon Silvester
consumers                 simon_silvester@eu.yr.com
                          tel: +44 20 7611 6356
understand                For new business enquiries, please
technology better.        contact:
                          Yossi Schwartz
                          yossi_schwartz@za.yr.com
                          tel: +27 11 797 6314
If we do not, the
                          Helen Kimber
digital revolution will   helen_kimber@eu.yr.com
                          tel: +44 20 7611 6750
fail.
                          For press enquiries, please contact:
                                                                      MY BRAIN HURTS
                          Bernard Barnett
Our jobs, house           bernard_barnett@eu.yr.com                   ‘The new net boom’ announces Fortune.
                          tel: +44 20 7611 6425
prices, pensions, the                                                 In California, venture capital is flowing.
future of our nations     The emailable version of this document is
                                                                      After five years in the doldrums, tech is back.

all depend on the         at pubs.yr.com/brain.pdf                    And it’s back big time
                                                                      Last time it was only dotcoms, telecoms and computers
economic growth           Podcasts and video podcasts to accompany    that boomed.
                          this book are at pubs.yr.com/podcasts
that digitization is                                                  Today virtually every industry on Earth is experiencing
                                                                      rapid change.
bringing.                                                             Hollywood is digitizing.
                                                                      Airlines are digitizing.
Helping consumers                                                     Fast food service is digitizing.
to grasp technology                                                   Soon, with the arrival of radio ID chips on every package
                                                                      in every supermarket, the humble food and drink
is thus the defining                                                  industries will digitize too.
issue of our time.                                                    But
                                                                      But as the world again gets excited by all things tech,
                                                                      perhaps we should pause.



                                                                      MY BRAIN HURTS                                              1
And remember how things ended in 1999/2000.
When a trillion dollars of technical development crashed
into a mountain of user indifference, and tech entered a
depression.
Millions of people lost their jobs and their pensions.
And it could happen again.
How could it happen?
Digital technology gets twice as powerful every eighteen           Lest we forget the
months.                                                             2000/1 dotcom
                                                                                bust.
And it’s predicted to keep doing so for the next two
decades.
No industrial change in history has happened as fast as
today’s digital revolution.
As this happens, we tend to forget that there is one part
of the digital world that hasn’t gotten any more powerful.
Not just in the past few years. But in the past ten
thousand.
The mind of its user.
Strain on the brain
Each year, consumers are presented with new, more
complex digital products and services.
But each year, their ability to understand them does not
rise.
Twenty years ago, a phone was a simple device, with one      In 1980, televisions had
dial.                                                            a few buttons and a
                                                             volume knob. No longer.
Many of today’s phones are packed with complex, badly
understood functions.


                                                                                        How many of these commonly used tech symbols do you recognise?
                                                                                        Do you know the precise meaning of any of them?
2                                                                  Y&R ADVERTISING
IMAGINE IF ALL MARKETING WAS        Twenty years ago a television had one dial and a volume
                                    knob. Today’s AV systems have tens of each.
LIKE TECH MARKETING:
                                    The technology is leaving its consumer behind.

 ‘Hi honey, I’m home!’              And it’s getting worse
                                    Meanwhile, technology keeps moving on at high speed.
 ‘That’s great dear! I’m cooking
                                    Digital devices will be ten times faster and more capable
 XRC-30 tonight.’                   within five years, and perhaps one hundred times within       Twenty years ago, phones
                                                                                                               were simple.
 ‘’Mmmmm – is that with quad-       ten.
 band 3G CDMA and a level 2         There is already a gulf between what technology can do
                                    and what consumers - both young and old - can make it
 cache?’                            do.
 ‘Yes indeed – and would you like   As technology surges ahead, this gulf can do nothing
 a little 802.11g on the side?’     else but grow.
 ‘I’m licking my lips!’             Not funny
 ‘Now you just settle               We may laugh when consumers fail to understand the
                                    full capabilities of their phones, TVs and computers.
 down with a nice
                                    But the consumer’s failure to grasp technology is not
 bottle of XC-L30K                  trivial.
 and I’ll have it on                It leads to the vaporization of venture capital.
 the table shortly.’                It is the issue that is increasingly holding back the whole
 ‘That’s great                      digital revolution.
 honey, I can’t                     Global growth, and the fate of nations depend on rapid
                                    adoption of new technology.
 wait to taste that
                                    It is thus the decisive issue of the early 21st century.
 delicious SD-
 RAM!’




                                    MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                        5
THE DARK SECRET OF DIGITIZATION
The human mind’s inability to assimilate technology is
the dark secret of the tech industry:
• Research by consumer electronics manufacturers
   reveals that consumers never touch most of the
   buttons on the remote controls in their living rooms.
• Washing machine manufacturers report that however
   many programs they build into their washing                                            What does the button with two circles on it   What exactly does ‘chaos defrost’ do?
   machines, consumers rarely use more than two of                                        do?
   them.
• Software companies keep building extra commands
   into their programs, but quietly concede that
   consumers refuse to use more than a small fraction.
• Banks offer a wide choice of funds in online
   investment supermarkets, but find that most people
   don’t even browse beyond the basic options.
The consumer simply doesn’t use most of what               In the 21st century, you
technologically advanced companies build into their        need a degree in rocket
products.                                                      science just to iron a
                                                                                 shirt.
The consumer holds things back for decades
The inability of consumers to understand a piece of
technology can hold it back not just for years but for
decades.
Today, consumers marvel at how they can collect shows                                     What do ‘SysRq’ and ‘Scroll Lock’ mean?       Digital devices can get twice as fast - or as
                                                                                                                                        confusing - every eighteen months.

6                                                                 Y&R ADVERTISING
Consumers
            only use a
            couple of                                      on their digital video recorder (like TiVo or Sky+) to play
            buttons on                                     back later.
            their remote
            controls.
                                                           TV schedules no longer dictate how they use their
                                                           leisure time, and they love the freedom.
                                                           But this isn’t the first time digital technology has made
                                                           this promise.
                                                           It was already promising time-shift viewing back in 1980
                                                           with the invention of the video cassette recorder.
                                                           It’s just that no one over fourteen could program a VCR
                                                           to record the right channel at the right time.
                                                           It took twenty-five years for the electronics industry to
                                                           design a time-shift viewing device that ordinary
                                                           consumers could actually use.
                                                           This pattern is repeated in many other industries.
                                                           It is thus the pace of consumer comprehension, not the
                                                           pace of technological change, that will determine the
Even teens have litte idea                                 pace of the digital revolution.
 what most of the buttons
         on their phones,                                  Consumers struggle with new concepts too
           computers and                                   Consumer confusion also slows the introduction of new
audiovisual equipment do.                                  technological concepts.
                                                           Sure, consumers can tell you they prefer HDTV to
                                                           ordinary TV, but when it comes to evaluating really new
                                                           technological ideas, they struggle:
                                                           • When the telephone was first invented, many of its
                                                              early users thought its main use would be to
                                                              broadcast orchestral concerts.
                                                           • When email first became popular in the mid 1990s,
                                                              many CEOs responded by putting an email terminal in
                                                              their telex room*.
                                                           • When television first arrived, early viewers thought its
                                                                                                                         Even since the beginning of the century, digital technology has sped up dramatically.
                                                                                                                         Computer chip speeds are already ten times faster. Download speeds are already thirty
     8            * Telex was a key business telecommunication system before the arrival of fax.       Y&R ADVERTISING
                                                                                                                         times faster.
biggest audiences would go to the newsreels they                                                      Time for a change
   had seen in the movie theater, not to game shows.                                                     This booklet challenges the way tech companies
                                                          1010     TRANSISTORS                           do things.
                                                                                                                                                                THE BURSTING OF THE
• And as Henry Ford put it in 1910, ‘if I’d asked my
                                                          109      PER DIE: LOG                                                                                 INTERNET BUBBLE
   customers what they’d wanted, they’d have asked                 SCALE                                 It argues that they should put the consumer first,
                                                          108                                                                                                   DIDN’T STOP
   for a faster horse.’                                                                                  not last.
                                                          107                                                                                                   TECHNOLOGY
The consumer absorbs new technological concepts           106                                            It uses Y&R’s intensive program of qualitative and
                                                                                                                                                                Since the internet bubble burst in
slowly, and with difficulty.                              105                                            quantitative research, consumer observation and        1999/2000, technology hasn’t
                                                          104                                            analysis to set out some of the keys to successful     stopped advancing.
Even young consumers struggle                             103                                            communication.                                         Many digital devices are now ten
‘Don’t worry about complexity’ say some tech                                                                                                                    times better than they were then:
                                                          102
                                                                                         SOURCE: INTEL   None are intuitive.
companies, ‘we’re targeting digitally literate 17 year                                                                                                                            2000      2006
olds.’                                                      1970        1980      1990    2000    2010   Few are reflected in current marketing thinking on
                                                                                                         the web, in consumer electronics or in telecoms.       Typical           300KHz    2000KHz
Crap.                                                     MOORE’S LAW MEANS DIGITAL                                                                             processor
                                                                                                         The keys reflect the ways in which humans have         speed
Young people may absorb tech concepts faster than         TECHNOLOGY GETS BETTER
                                                                                                         responded to technological advance since time
old people over 30, but they still struggle with how to   FAST                                                                                                  Typical home      56Kbps    2000Kbps
                                                                                                         immemorial.                                            download
make things work.                                         If a technology is digital, that technology                                                           speed
                                                          obeys Moore’s Law.                             As such, they risk being ridiculed by those within
• Y&R’s qualitative research has yet to find a                                                                                                                  Typical number    22        22
                                                                                                         the technology community who regard any solution
    teenager who knows what all the buttons on their      Moore’s Law, first proposed by Gordon                                                                 of peanuts in a
                                                          Moore of Intel back in 1968, states that       that is more than six months old as being out of       Snickers*
    phone do.                                             the number of transistors on a silicon         date.                                                                                   * control
• Few can explain even a quarter of the functions of      chip, and therefore the speed and
                                                          abilities of computers double every two        But the eternal is eternal for a reason.
    their parents’ DVD, TV or VCR.                        years – since revised down to every
                                                          eighteen months.                               And genuine marketing insights are no more abundant
• And Virgin mobile phones sell because they have
                                                                                                         today than they were in the dotcom boom.
    the only pricing plan 17 year olds (or anyone else)   Chips have obeyed that law for the past
    can understand.                                       thirty-five years – and show all the signs     Without an understanding of their consumer,
                                                          of continuing to do so for the next twenty.
                                                                                                         technologies will struggle.
Even amongst young people, it is the pace of              Put simply, anything digital can get twice
consumer comprehension, not the pace of                   as good, or as fast - or as unintelligible -   The companies responsible for them will stumble, and
technological change, that will determine the pace of     every eighteen months.                         industries will die.
the digital revolution.                                                                                  And they will do so however good their engineers,
But the tech industry has failed to acknowledge this.                                                    however smart their manufacturing - and however much
                                                                                                         money they spend on their marketing.
It needs to rethink its attitude towards its consumers
and do so fast.


10                                                                                   Y&R ADVERTISING     MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                                      11
Even in high science, good names are
vital. The ‘relativistic gravitationally
collapsed massive object’ was
discovered in 1916. But it
didn’t grab the popular
imagination until
someone
renamed it the
‘black hole’
in 1967.


                                                                              THE 17 KEYS TO CONSUMER
                                                                              UNDERSTANDING




                                                                    Names
                                                                   need to
                                                              work across
                                                             cultures: The
                                                          1967 worldwide
                                                             media frenzy
                                                      around black holes
                                                  was subdued in France
                                           because ‘trou noir’ was French
                                           slang at the time for ‘asshole’.
‘When I listen to music, I like to hum along
                                                                                       and tap my feet’, they told him. ‘If other
                                                                                       people can’t hear the music I’m doing it
                                                                                       to, they’ll think I’m a psycho.’
                                                                                                                                                             Simplicity acts like a
                                                                                       To communicate the idea, he needed a product
                                                                                                                                                                 missile into the
                                                                                       that could be understood in one way only.                                        consumer
                                                                                       And that meant it had to have one function only. The                      consciousness.
                                                                                       record button and radio had to go.

1. THINK SIMPLE                                                                        So he overruled the engineers. And his one-function
                                                                                       press and play device went into production.
If you want to get inside the                                                          Because his new product could only be used in one way,
consumer’s head, simplicity                                                            young people were forced to take Morita’s intention
is the key.                                                                            seriously.
                                                                                       This forced the Walkman into the public consciousness,
In the late 1970s, Sony was developing a new consumer
                                                                                       and made it a worldwide hit.
electronics device.
The device would allow people, for the first time ever, to                             Which means
carry round music easily and listen to it anywhere                ‘The ideal           A device that does one thing well is a much stronger
without irritating others.                                                             consumer proposition than a complex multifunctional
The device was designed to do this – and nothing else.            consumer             offer, no matter how advanced its specification.
‘But they will still want a record function’, said the           electronics           So if you want to get inside the consumer’s head, think
                                                                                       simple.
engineers, ‘and how about a radio?’
But Akio Morita, the founder of Sony, knew that he had
                                                             device has only           1. Simplicity gets remembered
a serious communication problem on his hands.                   one button.’           In the 1960s, offices flooded with new technology –
At the time, young people always shared music,                      AKIO MORITA,       duplicating machines, golf-ball typewriters, telexes and
                                                                                                                                                        Even government can be
wandering around in groups with throbbing ghetto-               FOUNDER OF SONY        more.                                                      simple. Clinton’s 1992 election
blasters.                                                                              But the only machine in that office with one-button           team pinned these words to
He was asking them to wander around listening to                                       simplicity was the photocopier.                                     their hotel room doors.
music that no one else could hear. He knew they would                                  Most companies that made office equipment in the
find the concept weird, and would resist the idea.                                     1960s are now footnotes in history.



14                                                                   Y&R ADVERTISING   MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                           15
Not so Xerox, the inventor of that photocopier.
2. Simplicity builds loyalty
Most tech products are so difficult to learn, that those
that are easy inspire great loyalty from their users.
Nokia gets the highest loyalty amongst mobile phone
brands because their 2006 models work without your
having to read the instruction manual – and in exactly
the same way as their 1996 models.
Similarly Canon’s Digital
Ixus cameras inspire
loyalty because
their current
seven megapixel
model works in
                                                                                                 When they rent a car, most people can start   But most new tech appliances do not work
exactly the same                                                                                 it up and drive it without problem.           without reading an instruction book.
way as their two
megapixel model
from 2001.
3. Simplicity solves
complex problems
Even when a product is
complex, it still pays to
market it simply.
When Microsoft was launching the
latest Word upgrade a few years back, their engineers      A $30,000 car needs an instruction
unveiled a product with many new capabilities.               book no more than 9mm thick. So
                                                           why does a wireless router need one
It had amazing mail merge, a 3D text graphics engine                              30mm thick?
and web integration.
But Microsoft’s marketing didn’t mention any of these.
They focused all their efforts on communicating
                                                                                                 Most people who use a computer less than      The same is true of camcorders – many
                                                                                                 once a month forget how to use it between     families simply forget how to operate theirs.
                                                                                                 sessions.
16                                                                           Y&R ADVERTISING
something quite simple – its ability to make simple                                                           • Most national railway automatic ticketing machines
spelling corrections like ‘ist’ to ‘its’ and ‘hte’ to ‘the’ as you                                              have simple dialogues – but leave consumers
typed.                                                                                                          thinking they could have got a better deal elsewhere
And the world went to their IT helpdesk and asked for                                                           if only they’d known the system better. To satisfy
the upgrade.                                                                                                    customers, you have to be transparently simple.
                                                                                                              • Moore’s Law means that software can get twice as
4. You can never be too simple                                                                                  complex every eighteen months. Message to
For years internet search engines prided themselves on                                                          software designers: making it so is a bad idea.
their simplicity.
                                                                      The MP3 player market was flooded
Whilst other portals added complex offers and                        with multifunction devices that played
confusing navigation, the search engines stuck to one                FM radio and told the time as well as
page.                                                                   played music. Then Apple came in
                                                                       and took 80% of the market with a
But all were trounced by Google with its one fill-in box,                   device that did only one thing.
and otherwise blank screen.
So
So if you want your technology to fly, think simple:
• Mobile phones are increasingly easy to make voice
   calls on, now their software has been simplified. But
   their airtime packages are still complex. Service
   providers think they are providing ‘choice’ and
   ‘freedom’ by offering 25 different price plans. They
   might attract more customers if they just offered just
   one good one.
• Most online banking sites are simple – security fears
   make banks keep the functions to a minimum. Not so
   online share dealing sites. Some don’t display vital
   information if your monitor isn’t large enough; others
   are drenched with obscure finance-speak. If online
   dealing is going to break into the mainstream, these
   sites need a fundamental rethink.




18                                                                                       Y&R ADVERTISING      MY BRAIN HURTS                                           19
As mankind’s first lunar
                                                                          module approached the
                                                                          moon’s surface in 1969, its
                                                                          main computer crashed.

                                                                          Today’s electronics consumer
                                                                          is far less tolerant of failure.
2. THINGS THAT DON’T WORK,
DON’T WORK
Marketing money is wasted
on unripe technologies.
In 2003, millions of people were captivated by the
picture messaging campaigns of mobile service
providers.
And they upgraded their mobile phone to a camera
phone.
Then they charged up their phone, took a picture, and
sent it to a friend.
Very few of those friends ever saw the picture:
• The majority of the pictures were sent to phones
   unable to display pictures.
• The networks hadn’t agreed common technical
   standards, so any picture which crossed networks
   disappeared.
• Many people who did receive the pictures never saw
   them, because they didn’t know how to open them.



20                                                      Y&R ADVERTISING
As a result, picture messaging failed in 2002/3.                                          So
Compare that with the previous great mobile messaging                                     So make sure your technology works before you market
technology, the SMS text:                                                                 it:
• Mobile service providers didn’t advertise SMS, as                                       • Is the home wireless network ready for the mass
   they saw it as a competitor to their lucrative voice                                       consumer market yet? Most routers require a PhD in
   calls.                                                                                     computing to set them up.
• As a result, text messaging grew organically.                                           • Internet telephony is also not quite ready for the
                                                                                              ordinary consumer. Congratulations to Skype, who
• Young people checked whether their friends had 2G                                                                                                      When home networks break
                                                                                              are continuing to allow their service to spread virally,   down, how do you fix them?
   phones or not, and only sent texts to those who did.
                                                                                              rather than pushing it at an unprepared mass market.
• As compatibility grew in the mid 90s, text messaging
                                                             Networking computers         • We’re still waiting for it – the video editing application
   exploded all over Europe, Africa and Asia, with          together can still stump          for the common man.
   billions of messages a year being sent by 1996.             even the geekiest of
• Within a few years, texting was providing a new                      consumers.
   revenue stream of 7% of revenue for mobile service
   providers.
Picture messaging failed, despite hundreds of millions of
dollars of marketing because it wasn’t ready. Text
messaging succeeded, despite any
marketing, because it was ready.
Technology producers need to think
                                                                Sites like eBay and
further about this, making sure their                          Craigslist are hitting
technology is ready before they set                           newspaper classifeds
out to market it.                                                   hard in the US.
Before a technology is ready, no                            In Russia though, lower
                                                               computer ownership
amount of marketing will make it                               means that classified
happen.                                                      advertising is still going
Afterwards, not even silence can                                                strong.
stop it.




22                                                                Y&R ADVERTISING         MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                        23
When watches ran fast and slow
                                                                             A similar thing happened with timekeeping in the late
                                                                             1960s.
                                                                             At the time, everyone had clockwork watches, many of
                                                                             which lost or gained five minutes a day.
                                                                             Daily conversations revolved around the correct
                                                                             time, and adjusting watches and clocks.
3. WHAT WORKS NO LONGER MATTERS                                              ‘Do you have the time please?’ was a standard
                                                                             pick-up line.
                                                                             Then digital quartz crystal technology arrived,
When a technology finally                                                    promising precise timing.
delivers on its promises,                                                                                                                        The accuracy of clocks and
                                                                             Precise timing caught the popular imagination.                    watches was a popular topic
marketers should watch out.                                                  The dialogue of 1960s TV series reflects the               of conversation for the two hundred
                                                                                                                                           years upto the invention of quartz
The late 19th century was a great time for farmers.                          widespread belief at the time that ever more precise
                                                                                                                                             digital watches. Nowadays, it’s
New technology – in the shape of traction engines,                           timing was the way of the future:                                              just not an issue.
harvesters and milling machines - was arriving on farms,                       ‘Negative, captain, the shuttle is landing in 24.8
making them more productive.                                                   seconds.’
Farming journals spoke of a new ‘golden age of farming’,                       ‘You have eight minutes and three seconds to
of new heights of food production and of farming at last                       live Mr. Solo.’
becoming an important, economically vital industry.                            ‘Arrival in two point three eight six minutes
But that’s not what happened.                                                  affirmative, Virkar.’
Over this period, agriculture fell from 60% of GDP to                        But by 1980, everyone had a super-accurate quartz
under 3% in some industrial nations.                                         watch, everyone knew the precise time.
Farmers lost their power to affect change. Farming                           And the timing issue – and with it the craze for precise
became a small part of the economy.                                          timing - disappeared.
Once the problem of adequate food production was                             The ungrateful consumer
solved, it ceased to be an issue.                                            When the main benefit of a technology is delivered,



24                                                         Y&R ADVERTISING   MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                                25
consumers stop being grateful to companies for
                                                                                                 providing that benefit.
                                                                                                 And simply forget that that benefit exists.
                                                                                                 So watch out
                                                                                                 Consumers stop being grateful fast:
                                                                                                 • Mobile network service providers were the darlings of
                                                                                                   Europe in the 1990s as they let consumers talk to
                                                                                                   their friends anywhere, any time.
                                                                                                   But now that call quality is perfect, and everyone has
                                                                                                   a mobile phone, European mobile service providers
                                                                                                   are rapidly becoming perceived as little better than
                                                                                                   the state landline companies that preceded them.
                                                                                                 • In the 1920s, managing a steady flow of electricity
                                                                                                   into factories was such a critical issue that most
                                                                                                   companies had a main board electricity director.
                                                                                                   Once electricity supplies became secure, he
                                                                                                   disappeared. Does the same fate await CIOs, now
                                                                                                   that corporate PC and email systems all work?
                                                                                                 • With 24/7 global email and intranets, information
                                                                                                   flow within companies has now become so fast that
                                                                                                   information is no longer the critical factor holding
                                                                                                   them back. So are we now in the middle of the
                                                                                                   information age – or are we watching its end?




Mobile phones which read barcodes on the bottom of ads will shortly be the wonder of the West.
But they are already taken for granted in Japan.

                                                                                                 MY BRAIN HURTS                                             27
4. BEWARE THE COUNSEL OF NERDS

Winning technologies are
those that appeal to ordinary
people, not just geeks.
When Kodak introduced its point-and-shoot Box
Brownie camera in 1900, American photographers
laughed. They wanted better pictures – and that meant
more sophisticated cameras. Kodak’s new offer was
little more than a box with a hole at one end.
But Kodak had inspired the average American to think
that perhaps he could now take photographs all by
himself.
As there were a lot more ordinary Americans than there
were photographers at the time, the brand rapidly came
to dominate its market.
                                                             Tech company employees often
Similarly with AOL in the 1990s                          regard mainstreamers as dinosaurs.
Throughout its early days in the mid 1990s, the online
community laughed at AOL, with its no-brainer sign-up
                                                                                              Some nerds choose to carry a selection of pens in their shirt pocket. Corporate health and safety
                                                                                              manuals warn that this habit can be lethal in the event of an automobile accident.
28                                                                        Y&R ADVERTISING
process, and cutesy low-tech imagery. As an AOL user
you were regarded as pond life in chat rooms. An AOL
email address was social death.
But AOL had inspired the average American to think
that perhaps even he could take the on-ramp to the
cyberactive infobahn thing everyone was talking about.
And as there were many more ordinary Americans out
there than wired people at the time, AOL rapidly became
the main dial-up way of accessing the internet.
Ten years later, AOL remained attractive to many
millions of ordinary Americans – and one of the biggest
money earners on the web.
Your audience loses its brain
What AOL and Kodak understood, and what most tech
brands don’t, is that as a market develops, levels of          Not all software is designed by
                                                                  nerds for other nerds. On the
understanding, and comfort do not rise. On the contrary,      computer map on Virgin Atlantic
they fall.                                                     flights, a dancing Elvis appears
First come the nerds, with love of technology, and their             as you fly over Greenland.
intuitive sense of how it works.
Then come the early adopters, excited by the
technology, but with slightly less knowledge.
Then the mainstream flood in, with their fears and
ignorance.
                                                                                                  Jeff Bezos at Amazon focused firmly on the           But a year later, when online purchasing became
Finally come the laggards, who just don’t want to feel left                                       mainstream.                                          mainstream, suddenly Bezos’s planning bore fruit.
out.                                                                                              When he first launched Amazon in 1997, he            Unlike at most other online retail sites, the
Over time, as the market floods with new, less tech savvy                                         included a phone number for people who didn’t feel   mainstream knew when they had placed an order at
                                                                                                  confident about transmitting their credit card       Amazon. They knew they had an alternative if they
consumers, the average level of understanding in the
                                                                                                  details online, together with rapid email            didn’t want to transact online. And they knew when
market falls rather than rises. And amongst advice-                                               confirmation that an order had been accepted, was    to expect the package.
hungry new entrants, the level of tech savvy is even                                              being processed and had been mailed out.             And so whilst all other online retailers were losing
lower.                                                                                            None of the geeks and nerds who were Amazon’s        the mainstream’s trust with their bug-ridden
                                                                                                  first customers used the phone number; most          payment processes and chaotic fulfilment, Amazon
                                                                                                  found the emails a nuisance.                         gained it.

30                                                                           Y&R ADVERTISING
Companies need to tune their offer to these successive
                                                                    waves of less and less techy consumers. As time goes
                                                                    on their marketing has to get more basic, not more
                                                                    sophisticated.
                                                                    So:
                                                                    • Online banking portals worked fine for their first
                                                                      users in the 90s. But the sort of people who are
                                                                      trying online banking for the first time now aren’t that
                                                                      comfortable with software interfaces. They need to be
                                                                      simplified to cope.
                                                                    • Similarly with microwave ovens. They worked fine                Mainstreamers are different:
                                                                      when they were bought by tech-savvy early-adopter                 In the early days of video in the
                                                                      housewives in the 1990s. But now they’re                   1970s, cash-strapped mainstreamers
                                                                      mainstream. Brief to microwave designers: come up            plugged their new VCR into their old
                                                                                                                                                                    TV set.
                                                                      with a microwave as idiot-proof as a regular oven.         And the real benefit of a VCR to them
                                                                    • Vodafone are currently marketing simplified-interface        was that they could, for the first time
                                                                      mobile phones aimed at mainstream people over               in their lives, experience the luxury of
                                                                                                                                 changing channel without getting out
                                                                      forty. Could such an approach pay off in the digital
                                                                                                                                                         of their armchair.
                                                                      camera market too?




Are you a mainstreamer or some other type of person?
Find out in our online personality test at http://4cs.yr.com/diys
                                                                    MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                                      33
5. THINK INFECTION
How fast a technology
passes from person to
person is decisive to its
success.
Between 2004 and 2007, two new devices appeared in
the living rooms of the world: the flat panel TV, and the
DVR.
The flat panel TV rapidly became a must-have item
across the world, despite its high prices.
But the DVR grew much more slowly over the period -
despite the fact that most DVR owners say that it has
revolutionized their lives, and despite the fact that any
satellite TV subscriber given a DVR never gives the
service up.
The reason flat panels have a much higher consumer-to-
consumer infection rate:
• In 2004, the flat panel TV was the high status item in
   early adopter homes. He talked about the amazing

                                                                              The most successful technologies spread virally from person to person.
34                                                          Y&R ADVERTISING
picture quality; she endorsed its                                                         The DVR is growing much more slowly because no one
    minimalist lines and space-saving                                                         can express quite why it’s so good.
    ability.
                                                                                              So
    And they repeated their sell to every
                                                                                              If you want the world to accept your device quickly,
    visitor to their home.
                                                                                              concentrate on making it more infectious:
• By 2005, the world was sold on flat
                                                                                              • The iPod spread fast because even if you put yours
    panel TVs. Mr Average was inviting
                                                                                                  inside your jacket pocket, your white headphones
    his friends round to watch football on
                                                                                                  were still visible to everyone around you. Other MP3
    it, and extolling its virtues to them.                                                                                                                   Photography only took off when
                                                                                                  player manufacturers need to think up a similar        people learned to ask their audience
Compare that with DVRs over the                                                                   mechanic.                                                          to pose and say cheese.
period:
                                                                                              • It was the ‘my friends are’ section of the homepage
• In 2004, the first TiVo and Sky+                             At airports, retailers, and        that made MySpace spread like wildfire through
    owners were amazed by their devices, and found                    nightclubs plasma           schools and colleges. Everyone went out and asked
    themselves suddenly no longer watching live                  screens are spreading
                                                                             like wildfire.       their friends to sign up and link to their page,
    television.                                                                                   because otherwise it would be obvious that they
• They tried to communicate their experience to their                                             were simply not popular.
    friends, but couldn’t. Their friends just thought they                                    • The Blackberry spread fast because every email it
    had a digital version of a normal video player.                                               sent included ‘sent from my wireless BlackBerry
• In 2005, DVRs had become more mainstream. But                                                   handheld’ by default. Why don’t other
    again, owners struggled to rave about them to their                                           communications systems brand their output?
    friends. ‘It lets you pause live TV.’ was the best they
    could do. ‘How often do I want to pause live TV?’
    came the reply.
Today, in 2006, DVR owners continue to struggle to
articulate what the DVR has done for them - despite the
fact that they have moved into a completely new world
of on-demand television.
The flat panel TV succeeded rapidly because consumers
found it easy to infect their friends with the need for one,




36                                                                    Y&R ADVERTISING         MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                              37
THERE’S NOT THAT MUCH GOING
                                                                                 ON IN THE WORLD APART FROM                                            BEX
                                                                                                                                                             TM



                                                                                 THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION, SAY                           Google          99.8
                                                                                 ECONOMIC HISTORIANS                                   TiVo            99.7
                                                                                 We still drive around in automobiles,                 Nike            99.4
                                                                                 invented in 1899, fly around in jumbo jets            iPod            98.6
                                                                                 from 1968, and worry about atomic                     Starbucks       96.8
                                                                                 weapons invented in 1945.
6. BUYING IS ONLY THE BEGINNING                                                  Our best scientists spend their time
                                                                                 exploring Einstein’s theory of relativity
                                                                                                                                       PlayStation
                                                                                                                                       Crate & Barrel
                                                                                                                                                       92.3
                                                                                                                                                       88.0
                                                                                 from 1915 and the theory of quantum                   JetBlue         87.2
Successful technologies are                                                      mechanics from the 1920s.                             Ben and Jerry’s 87.1
                                                                                 Because not much else fundamental is                  Gap             86.7
those that consumers                                                             happening in the world today, digital
rethink their lives around.                                                      technology brands are some of the most                Subway          85.6
                                                                                 energetic brands in the world, when                   Mini Cooper     85.0
Most tech marketers advertise and promote heavily to                             measured on Y&R’s global BrandAsset                   Target          74.7
get their consumer to buy their products.                                        Valuator study.
                                                                                                                                       Louis Vuitton   71.0
Once that consumer has left the shop, they see their job                         But not all tech brands are equally
                                                                                                                                       Staples         68.4
as done.                                                                         successful.
                                                                                 Some tech brands are less energetic than
                                                                                                                                       McDonalds       65.8
But the success of tech products relies massively on                             others, and the thing that drags the also-            Samsung         64.1
whether consumers adopt the product for everyday use                             rans down is often consumer confusion.                BlackBerry      61.2
or not.                                                                          Imperfect marketing drags tech brands’                Banana Republic 59.6
No tech product succeeds long term if the consumer                               energy levels down in three key ways:                 The Body Shop   56.6
buys the product, takes it home and puts it in a drawer.                         • Lack of consumer understanding of                   Heinz           54.7
                                                                                   where a tech brand is heading in a
Whether they integrate it into their lives is what separates                       philosophical sense drags down its level            MasterCard      52.8
a successful tech product from the rest.                                           of VISION.                                          Chipotle        52.0
                                                                                 • If consumers do not recognise and                   Domino’s Pizza 51.9
Integrating the video camera                                                       respond to a brand’s innovation
For instance, most Americans or Europeans using a
                                                                                                                                       Sierra Mist     43.8
                                                                                   activities, this drags down its level of
video camera will stand motionless, zooming in and out,                            INVENTION.
                                                                                                                                       Blockbuster     43.5
producing boring video.                                                          • If the brand doesn’t exude a sense of
                                                                                                                                       Amtrak          41.8
                                                                                   buzz, this pulls down its level of                  Delta Air Lines 40.1
Give that same video camera to a young Japanese
woman, however, and the reaction is completely
                                                                                   DYNAMISM.                                           Tostitos        32.7
                                                                                 On the right are energy levels for 30                 J Crew          32.2
                                                                                 brands in the US.
                                                                                 Google is top of the pile.

38                                                             Y&R ADVERTISING                                                Source: BAV USA Jan-Dec 2004
different. Many will start narrating as they use the video
camera, interviewing people as they film them, and
producing their own personal documentary.
The result is much more compelling and shareable.
And so video cameras have become a much more
central part of young Japanese life than they are in the     In Japan, young women
                                                                 integrate technology
West.
                                                                 into their lives much
                                                             more readily than in the
Integrating the homepage                                                          West.
It’s also the difference between ordinary homepages
and the homepages people create on social
networking sites like FaceBook, Bebo and MySpace.
The web homepage has been around for years, but
never became a vital part of anyone’s life, because,
after the first few hits, no one’s friends could ever
be bothered looking at it.
It was only when MySpace decided that
homepages were a social networking tool – and fifty
million teenagers realised that they would never
get another date without looking good on
theirs - that the idea took off.
So
Many tech brands should think harder about how                                            The period 1900 to 1940 saw the appearance
                                                                                          of the automobile, the airplane, electricity,
they want people to use their products.                                                   radio and many other technologies.
Then they should publicise their ‘usage                                                   These technologies changed our grandparents’
instructions’:                                                                            and great-grandparents’ lives out of all
                                                                                          recognition.
• Computer manufacturers need to
   articulate better how their modern                                                     In the period 1980-2006 there has been much
                                                                                          less change.
   media-centric computers can change
                                                                                          Apart, that is, from the rapid development of
   their users’ lives. They currently say                                                 digital technology.




40
‘Store hours of TV’. It’s not enough to persuade non-
  owners to buy.
• YouTube.com is attracting a lot of people who
  want to share the movies they’ve made with
  their webcam or MP4 recorder. But it has not
  yet defined how non movie-makers should use
  its site. They need to sell the ‘YouTube evening’                          7. THE SECOND GENERATION USES
  as a more compelling alternative to TV.
• Camcorders are getting smaller and more robust.                            DIFFERENTLY
  Congratulations to Samsung on positioning their
  latest tiny camcorders as extreme sports recording                         The true impact of
                                                            Extreme sports
  devices.
                                                              camcorders:
                                                                             technology on a society may
                                                                  Cooool.    take a generation.
                                                                             When mobile phones first became popular in the early
                                                                             nineties, the first generation of consumers to use them
                                                                             found they were a very useful part of their social lives.
                                                                             If they were late for a dinner appointment, they could call
                                                                             their friends and apologise from their car.
                                                                             If they made a mistake in an arrangement, they could
                                                                             call the other person and find them.
                                                                             The second generation are different
                                                                             But the next generation to use them do so differently.
                                                                             They no longer make plans in advance, because they
                                                                             don’t need to. They know that all their friends can be
                                                                             contacted at any time because they all have mobile
                                                                             phones with them.
                                                                             And so they just arrange their evening by phone on the
                                                                             go.




42                                                        Y&R ADVERTISING    MY BRAIN HURTS                                                43
For the first generation of users, mobile phones were a
helpful aid to their existing social lives.
For the second generation, mobile phones have
redefined their social lives.
Similarly with PCs
A similar change happened with PCs.
When the first generation of companies bought PCs in
the 1980s, they regarded them as a better form of
typewriter, and put them on their secretaries’ desks.
But the next generation of executives in the 1990s were     First generation corporations used
all computer literate.                                        email to allow their managers to
                                                                           communicate better.
And so their companies gave them the PCs, and gave
the secretaries pink slips.
                                                                                                 When digitization hit, first generation   But then Britain’s Arctic Monkeys made
Similarly with email                                                                             musicians called their lawyers.           themselves famous through MP3 downloads.
First generation CEOs used email to improve
communications across their management structure.
Next generation CEOs used the improved information
flow to flatten command structures, cutting out the
layers of management that were no longer necessary.
With both PCs and email, the first generation of
companies used them to make their existing structures
work better.
The second generation redefined their structures around
                                                              Second generation corporations
the new technology.                                                eliminated the managers.

So
Watch the way the second generation use technology
for the way it will really impact the world:
• Current TiVo users still do most of their viewing live,

                                                                                                 And singer Sandi Thom made it through     Today, savvy record companies use CDs as a
                                                                                                 webcasts.                                 medium for selling ringtones.
44                                                                          Y&R ADVERTISING
as they have TV schedules etched into
  their brains.
  But no one will remember TV schedules if
  they don’t have to. And so the next
  generation are likely to use their TiVos
  differently, collecting most of their viewing
  to watch when they want. Classical ad
  industry watch out.
• Current drivers use satnav as an aid to the
  mental maps they already have in their
                                                                                     8. CONSUMERS LEARN ONLY
  heads. But who will bother to memorise a
  map if they don’t need to?
                                                                   Expect the next
                                                        generation of motorists to   THROUGH DOING
                                                         be completely lost when
  Like the generation of schoolkids who forgot how to   their satnav breaks down.    Every tech device or service today comes with an
  add one and one to get two because they were
                                                                                     instruction manual, which can be up to five centimetres
  allowed calculators in their math exams, expect the
                                                                                     thick.
  next generation of motorists to be completely lost
  when their satnav breaks down.                                                     Tech manuals are so incomprehensible that some
                                                                                     manufacturers pray silently that someone will write a ‘for
                                                                                     Dummies’ book to explain how to use their new device.
                                                                                     But the problem goes beyond this.
                                                                                     Observations show that most consumers never read the
                                                                                     instruction book, no matter how well written.
                                                                                     The only way most consumers learn is by handling a                  Instructions for using
                                                                                                                                                   payphones in South Africa
                                                                                     device and trying to make it work. The only way most           are visual, because South
                                                                                     consumers learn is by doing.                                       Africans speak eleven
                                                                                     ‘Plug and play’ was therefore never a manufacturer            different languages. Other
                                                                                                                                                  telecoms companies could
                                                                                     strategy. It is just a consumer reality.                                   learn from this.




46                                                              Y&R ADVERTISING      MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                          47
Consumers fear the confusing
What’s more, consumers know they don’t read
instruction books.
So when they look at a new device and they don’t
understand how it works, they tend not to buy it.
This means that one of the most useful roles of
technology marketing is to explain what a thing does in
advance. If consumers feel they understand a device
before they buy it, one of the biggest fears they have is
removed.
This is why tech stores like CompUSA and Germany’s
Saturn chain allow consumers to ‘play’ with their wares
so freely.
Consumers aren’t just playing with them – they are
working out how to use them – and thus significantly
increasing their likelihood to buy.
Similarly with games – giving away the first few levels
for free creates a huge market of hooked users, who
simply have to finish.
So:
• The vogue for ‘usability testing’ – rooms full of
  students surfing to websites and exploring the user-
  friendliness of their navigation and payment systems
  happened too late in the internet boom to make a
  difference to the companies that used it. Usability
  testing needs a revival.
• Most DV camcorders have a ‘demo mode’ for use by
  retailers. The camcorder cycles through
  demonstrations of its main features to the delight of
  browsing customers. All well and good – but a demo



48                                                          Y&R ADVERTISING
mode for use by forgetful owners would also be
  useful.
• And not just in audiovisual equipment - a demo mode
  would be massively helpful in office phone systems
  too.
• The latest camcorders have ‘easy’ mode buttons that
  allow users who have never read the manual to use
  them. More consumer electronics devices, from                           9. PRICE DICTATES PERCEPTION
  satellite receivers to microwave ovens need such a
  button.
                                                                          Consumers value things
                                                                          according to their price.
                                                                          ‘If the car had developed at the same speed as the
                                                                          computer’, say Silicon Valley geeks, ‘Today you’d be
                                                                          driving from Los Angeles to New York in under four
                                                                          minutes. And the car would cost you less than twenty
                                                                          cents.’
                                                                          The boast reflects the flipside of Moore’s Law: that
                                                                          digital technology tends to halve in price every couple of
                                                                          years or so, and keep doing so for decades:
                                                                          • $3000 plasma panels from 2003 sell for $500 today
                                                                              in 2006.
                                                                          • $1000 camcorders from 2003 now sell for $300.
                                                                          • $300 DVD players from 2002 now sell for less than
                                                                                                                                       As PCs become cheaper, they are
                                                                              the cost of the cable that connects them to the TV.
                                                                                                                                          increasingly being sold by hard
                                                                          Coping with such price falls, and resulting changes in              discount food outlets.
                                                                          consumer expectations and perceptions are amongst
                                                                          the most difficult issues in tech marketing:
                                                                          • Consumers who bought a state-of-the-art computer




50                                                      Y&R ADVERTISING   MY BRAIN HURTS
in 2002 have difficulty accepting that their machine
                                                                                                                   today is virtually obsolete.
                                                                                                                 • Indeed, consumer expectations of price falls
                                                                                                                   are often the biggest barrier to sales today:
                                                                                                                   many consumers say they didn’t buy a 42 inch
                                                                                                                   plasma to watch the 2006 World Cup on
                                                                                                                   because they thought that plasma screens
                                                                                                                   would halve in price by Christmas.                            In Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner,
                                                                                                                                                                                     2019 Los Angeles detective
                                                                                                                 • On the other hand, consumers are often so                   Harrison Ford interviews an exotic
                                                                                                                   good at finding uses for cut-price technology              dancer who performs with a snake.
                                                                                                                   that marketers need to be careful:                            ‘Is that a real snake?’ asks Ford.
                                                                                                                     The Mercury 1-2-1 mobile phone company thought                The snake is an artificial living
                                                                                                                     they were doing their customers a small favour                                           copy.
                                                                                                                     when they offered them unlimited free evening calls           ‘If I could afford a real snake,’
                                                                                                                     between their mobiles in the late nineties.                  replies the dancer, ‘would I be
                                                                                                                                                                                                    dancing here?’
                                                                                                                     What they didn’t expect was for their network to be
                                                                                                                     jammed by customers who chose to go out drinking
                                                                                                                     for the evening, leaving one phone permanently on
                                                                                                                     in their baby’s cot at home as a baby monitor.


                                                                                                                 So
                                                                                                                 The speed of falling prices are of massive importance
                                                                                                                 to any tech based marketer:
                                                                                                                 • Lexus built its reputation around the many
                                                                                                                    electronic devices and features which were
                                                                                                                    fitted as standard in its vehicles. Today though,                                 Airtime is so
                                                                                                                                                                                                  cheap in 2006
                                                                                                                    the cost of these features has fallen dramatically, and
                                                                                                                                                                                               that mobile phone
                                                                                                                    many are now fitted as standard on mid range                                  companies can
                                                                                                                    saloons. Lexus needs to develop new reputations –                         offer free airtime to
                                                                                                                    and to do so fast.                                                       couples without risk.
75% of the cost of running a newspaper lies in its distribution: printing, delivering and chopping down trees.
Digitization is allowing newspaper proprietors to cut all of these costs - but the indications are that
consumers value news they receive for free less.
                                                                                                                 MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                                  53
• As average voice revenue per user continues to fall
  for mobile phone companies, they need to encourage        ‘Talk for hours,
  people to spend more time on the phone. Young
  women already rate their boyfriends by how                  not minutes.’
  frequently they call and text them; Perhaps marketers
                                                                           HEADLINE,
  should start to suggest to them that the ultimate sign     HUTCHINSON WHAMPOA
  of commitment is the always-on relationship – where           ‘3’ MOBILE PHONE AD
  an (exceptionally besotted) couple agree to sleep,
  eat and work with an always-on phone connection
                                                                                        10. THE VISIBLE WINS
  between them.
• ‘Information wants to be free’, said internet                                         Consumers place little value
  visionaries in the nineties. They may as well have said                               on things they can’t see.
  ‘Information wants to be worthless.’
                                                                                        When Karl Benz’s first automobile hit the roads in 1889,
                                                                                        people called it ‘the horseless carriage’. Every previous
                                                                                        form of road transportation they had seen had horses in
                                                                                        front. The striking thing about this one was that it didn’t.
                                                                                        Similarly when the radio first appeared. Unlike
                                                                                        gramophones and telephones, it had no wires attached.
                                                                                        So people called it the ‘wireless’.
                                                                                        But the names didn’t last.
                                                                                        After a while, the lack of horses and wires faded from
                                                                                        the public memory.                                                 As wireless devices
                                                                                                                                                       become commonplace,
                                                                                        And people started calling the wireless a radio.                  consumers will forget
                                                                                        And the horseless carriage an automobile.                       that wires ever existed.

                                                                                        Over time, consumers stop valuing, and eventually don’t
                                                                                        even remember, things they can’t see.
                                                                                        It’s a lesson technology-based companies have often
                                                                                        failed to heed. If consumers can’t see your product or




54                                                                    Y&R ADVERTISING   MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                       55
service, it stands a much lower chance of long-term
                                                                                                             success:
                                                                                                             • Consumers can’t see satellites. So they failed to get
                                                                                                                hooked by satellite phone technology. In the late
                                                                                                                1990s, the Iridium consortium had a network of forty
                                                                                                                satellites orbiting the earth, allowing phone coverage
                                                                                                                across the whole planet. It was a pretty cool idea. But
                                                                                                                the consumer didn’t buy - because all they saw was
                                                                                                                a handset the size of a brick.
                                                                                                             • Mobile network service providers suffer from being
                                                                                                                invisible. As a result, mobile handset manufacturers
                                                                                                                became stronger brands than mobile service
                                                                                                                providers across the world.
                                                                                                                The smart mobile service providers in the nineties
                                                                                                                were Orange and Vodafone, who insisted on putting
                                                                                                                their logos on phones connected to their networks.
                                                                                                                France Telecom paid $45 billion for Orange in 2001.
                                                                                                                That’s how much that brand was worth.
                                                                                                             • The Blackberry wireless handheld device took the
                                                                                                                corporate world by storm in 2003. But the                   Harman/Kardon took an
                                                                                                                Blackberry’s marketers were careful not to market         invisible ingredient brand -
                                                                                                                                                                             the computer speaker -
                                                                                                                their device as a ‘wireless network technology’. They              and turned it into a
                                                                                                                simply sold it as a handheld device called a              desirable object in its own
                                                                                                                Blackberry. And the question on the lips of owners of                             right.
                                                                                                                all other PDAs was not ‘How do I get my PDA to
                                                                                                                connect?’ but ‘Why can’t I have a Blackberry?’


                                                                                                             So make yourself visible
                                                                                                             Digital marketers need to work out how to make their
                                                                                                             activity visible to the consumer, and then brand it:

Breaking into your neighbour’s unsecured WiFi network is the yuppy game of the mid 2000s.
But WiFi is invisible. As it becomes more widespread and more reliable, people will forget that it exists.
                                                                                                             MY BRAIN HURTS                                                                                57
• Can you see WiFi, GPS and BlueTooth? Don’t bank
                                                                                                              on these brand names being in perfect health in
                                                                                                              2010.
                                                                                                            • Congratulations to Dolby Labs for getting their logo
                                                                                                              on every piece of hi-fi equipment for the past thirty
                                                                                                              years. But surely they could have done more with
                                                                                                              such a famous brand?
                                                                                                            • Digital technology means consumers use ATM
                                                                                                              networks to withdraw money from banks nowadays,
                                                                                                              so no one goes into their branches any more.
                                                                                                              In the 19th Century, banks spent a fortune on a good
                                                                                                              visual appearance, decorating their branches with
                                                                                                              marble and other fine stones. Today, they need to
                                                                                                              spend some money making their ATMs look a little
                                                                                                              more special.
                                                                                                            • In today’s online world, the one visible thing a bank
                                                                                                              offers is a credit card. And the logo that guarantees
                                                                                                              acceptability of these cards is that of Visa, not the
                                                                                                              bank.
                                                                                                              Visa is thus the world’s strongest financial brand, and
                                                                                                              could play a powerful role in cross-selling the
                                                                                                              insurance and investment products banks are
                                                                                                              currently struggling with.
                                                                                                                                                                         ATMs are banks’ sole point of
                                                                                                                                                                           contact with their customer
                                                                                                                                                                        nowadays. They need a design
                                                                                                                                                                                               upgrade.




Airlines make their frequent flyer schemes visible through cards and luggage tags. Tech companies need to
consider how to make their offerings more visible too.
                                                                                                            MY BRAIN HURTS
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R
My Brain Hurts by Y&R

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My Brain Hurts by Y&R

  • 1. THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION IS LEAVING THE CONSUMER BEHIND MY BRAIN HURTS
  • 2. We must help By: Simon Silvester consumers simon_silvester@eu.yr.com tel: +44 20 7611 6356 understand For new business enquiries, please technology better. contact: Yossi Schwartz yossi_schwartz@za.yr.com tel: +27 11 797 6314 If we do not, the Helen Kimber digital revolution will helen_kimber@eu.yr.com tel: +44 20 7611 6750 fail. For press enquiries, please contact: MY BRAIN HURTS Bernard Barnett Our jobs, house bernard_barnett@eu.yr.com ‘The new net boom’ announces Fortune. tel: +44 20 7611 6425 prices, pensions, the In California, venture capital is flowing. future of our nations The emailable version of this document is After five years in the doldrums, tech is back. all depend on the at pubs.yr.com/brain.pdf And it’s back big time Last time it was only dotcoms, telecoms and computers economic growth Podcasts and video podcasts to accompany that boomed. this book are at pubs.yr.com/podcasts that digitization is Today virtually every industry on Earth is experiencing rapid change. bringing. Hollywood is digitizing. Airlines are digitizing. Helping consumers Fast food service is digitizing. to grasp technology Soon, with the arrival of radio ID chips on every package in every supermarket, the humble food and drink is thus the defining industries will digitize too. issue of our time. But But as the world again gets excited by all things tech, perhaps we should pause. MY BRAIN HURTS 1
  • 3. And remember how things ended in 1999/2000. When a trillion dollars of technical development crashed into a mountain of user indifference, and tech entered a depression. Millions of people lost their jobs and their pensions. And it could happen again. How could it happen? Digital technology gets twice as powerful every eighteen Lest we forget the months. 2000/1 dotcom bust. And it’s predicted to keep doing so for the next two decades. No industrial change in history has happened as fast as today’s digital revolution. As this happens, we tend to forget that there is one part of the digital world that hasn’t gotten any more powerful. Not just in the past few years. But in the past ten thousand. The mind of its user. Strain on the brain Each year, consumers are presented with new, more complex digital products and services. But each year, their ability to understand them does not rise. Twenty years ago, a phone was a simple device, with one In 1980, televisions had dial. a few buttons and a volume knob. No longer. Many of today’s phones are packed with complex, badly understood functions. How many of these commonly used tech symbols do you recognise? Do you know the precise meaning of any of them? 2 Y&R ADVERTISING
  • 4. IMAGINE IF ALL MARKETING WAS Twenty years ago a television had one dial and a volume knob. Today’s AV systems have tens of each. LIKE TECH MARKETING: The technology is leaving its consumer behind. ‘Hi honey, I’m home!’ And it’s getting worse Meanwhile, technology keeps moving on at high speed. ‘That’s great dear! I’m cooking Digital devices will be ten times faster and more capable XRC-30 tonight.’ within five years, and perhaps one hundred times within Twenty years ago, phones were simple. ‘’Mmmmm – is that with quad- ten. band 3G CDMA and a level 2 There is already a gulf between what technology can do and what consumers - both young and old - can make it cache?’ do. ‘Yes indeed – and would you like As technology surges ahead, this gulf can do nothing a little 802.11g on the side?’ else but grow. ‘I’m licking my lips!’ Not funny ‘Now you just settle We may laugh when consumers fail to understand the full capabilities of their phones, TVs and computers. down with a nice But the consumer’s failure to grasp technology is not bottle of XC-L30K trivial. and I’ll have it on It leads to the vaporization of venture capital. the table shortly.’ It is the issue that is increasingly holding back the whole ‘That’s great digital revolution. honey, I can’t Global growth, and the fate of nations depend on rapid adoption of new technology. wait to taste that It is thus the decisive issue of the early 21st century. delicious SD- RAM!’ MY BRAIN HURTS 5
  • 5. THE DARK SECRET OF DIGITIZATION The human mind’s inability to assimilate technology is the dark secret of the tech industry: • Research by consumer electronics manufacturers reveals that consumers never touch most of the buttons on the remote controls in their living rooms. • Washing machine manufacturers report that however many programs they build into their washing What does the button with two circles on it What exactly does ‘chaos defrost’ do? machines, consumers rarely use more than two of do? them. • Software companies keep building extra commands into their programs, but quietly concede that consumers refuse to use more than a small fraction. • Banks offer a wide choice of funds in online investment supermarkets, but find that most people don’t even browse beyond the basic options. The consumer simply doesn’t use most of what In the 21st century, you technologically advanced companies build into their need a degree in rocket products. science just to iron a shirt. The consumer holds things back for decades The inability of consumers to understand a piece of technology can hold it back not just for years but for decades. Today, consumers marvel at how they can collect shows What do ‘SysRq’ and ‘Scroll Lock’ mean? Digital devices can get twice as fast - or as confusing - every eighteen months. 6 Y&R ADVERTISING
  • 6. Consumers only use a couple of on their digital video recorder (like TiVo or Sky+) to play buttons on back later. their remote controls. TV schedules no longer dictate how they use their leisure time, and they love the freedom. But this isn’t the first time digital technology has made this promise. It was already promising time-shift viewing back in 1980 with the invention of the video cassette recorder. It’s just that no one over fourteen could program a VCR to record the right channel at the right time. It took twenty-five years for the electronics industry to design a time-shift viewing device that ordinary consumers could actually use. This pattern is repeated in many other industries. It is thus the pace of consumer comprehension, not the pace of technological change, that will determine the Even teens have litte idea pace of the digital revolution. what most of the buttons on their phones, Consumers struggle with new concepts too computers and Consumer confusion also slows the introduction of new audiovisual equipment do. technological concepts. Sure, consumers can tell you they prefer HDTV to ordinary TV, but when it comes to evaluating really new technological ideas, they struggle: • When the telephone was first invented, many of its early users thought its main use would be to broadcast orchestral concerts. • When email first became popular in the mid 1990s, many CEOs responded by putting an email terminal in their telex room*. • When television first arrived, early viewers thought its Even since the beginning of the century, digital technology has sped up dramatically. Computer chip speeds are already ten times faster. Download speeds are already thirty 8 * Telex was a key business telecommunication system before the arrival of fax. Y&R ADVERTISING times faster.
  • 7. biggest audiences would go to the newsreels they Time for a change had seen in the movie theater, not to game shows. This booklet challenges the way tech companies 1010 TRANSISTORS do things. THE BURSTING OF THE • And as Henry Ford put it in 1910, ‘if I’d asked my 109 PER DIE: LOG INTERNET BUBBLE customers what they’d wanted, they’d have asked SCALE It argues that they should put the consumer first, 108 DIDN’T STOP for a faster horse.’ not last. 107 TECHNOLOGY The consumer absorbs new technological concepts 106 It uses Y&R’s intensive program of qualitative and Since the internet bubble burst in slowly, and with difficulty. 105 quantitative research, consumer observation and 1999/2000, technology hasn’t 104 analysis to set out some of the keys to successful stopped advancing. Even young consumers struggle 103 communication. Many digital devices are now ten ‘Don’t worry about complexity’ say some tech times better than they were then: 102 SOURCE: INTEL None are intuitive. companies, ‘we’re targeting digitally literate 17 year 2000 2006 olds.’ 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 Few are reflected in current marketing thinking on the web, in consumer electronics or in telecoms. Typical 300KHz 2000KHz Crap. MOORE’S LAW MEANS DIGITAL processor The keys reflect the ways in which humans have speed Young people may absorb tech concepts faster than TECHNOLOGY GETS BETTER responded to technological advance since time old people over 30, but they still struggle with how to FAST Typical home 56Kbps 2000Kbps immemorial. download make things work. If a technology is digital, that technology speed obeys Moore’s Law. As such, they risk being ridiculed by those within • Y&R’s qualitative research has yet to find a Typical number 22 22 the technology community who regard any solution teenager who knows what all the buttons on their Moore’s Law, first proposed by Gordon of peanuts in a Moore of Intel back in 1968, states that that is more than six months old as being out of Snickers* phone do. the number of transistors on a silicon date. * control • Few can explain even a quarter of the functions of chip, and therefore the speed and abilities of computers double every two But the eternal is eternal for a reason. their parents’ DVD, TV or VCR. years – since revised down to every eighteen months. And genuine marketing insights are no more abundant • And Virgin mobile phones sell because they have today than they were in the dotcom boom. the only pricing plan 17 year olds (or anyone else) Chips have obeyed that law for the past can understand. thirty-five years – and show all the signs Without an understanding of their consumer, of continuing to do so for the next twenty. technologies will struggle. Even amongst young people, it is the pace of Put simply, anything digital can get twice consumer comprehension, not the pace of as good, or as fast - or as unintelligible - The companies responsible for them will stumble, and technological change, that will determine the pace of every eighteen months. industries will die. the digital revolution. And they will do so however good their engineers, But the tech industry has failed to acknowledge this. however smart their manufacturing - and however much money they spend on their marketing. It needs to rethink its attitude towards its consumers and do so fast. 10 Y&R ADVERTISING MY BRAIN HURTS 11
  • 8. Even in high science, good names are vital. The ‘relativistic gravitationally collapsed massive object’ was discovered in 1916. But it didn’t grab the popular imagination until someone renamed it the ‘black hole’ in 1967. THE 17 KEYS TO CONSUMER UNDERSTANDING Names need to work across cultures: The 1967 worldwide media frenzy around black holes was subdued in France because ‘trou noir’ was French slang at the time for ‘asshole’.
  • 9. ‘When I listen to music, I like to hum along and tap my feet’, they told him. ‘If other people can’t hear the music I’m doing it to, they’ll think I’m a psycho.’ Simplicity acts like a To communicate the idea, he needed a product missile into the that could be understood in one way only. consumer And that meant it had to have one function only. The consciousness. record button and radio had to go. 1. THINK SIMPLE So he overruled the engineers. And his one-function press and play device went into production. If you want to get inside the Because his new product could only be used in one way, consumer’s head, simplicity young people were forced to take Morita’s intention is the key. seriously. This forced the Walkman into the public consciousness, In the late 1970s, Sony was developing a new consumer and made it a worldwide hit. electronics device. The device would allow people, for the first time ever, to Which means carry round music easily and listen to it anywhere ‘The ideal A device that does one thing well is a much stronger without irritating others. consumer proposition than a complex multifunctional The device was designed to do this – and nothing else. consumer offer, no matter how advanced its specification. ‘But they will still want a record function’, said the electronics So if you want to get inside the consumer’s head, think simple. engineers, ‘and how about a radio?’ But Akio Morita, the founder of Sony, knew that he had device has only 1. Simplicity gets remembered a serious communication problem on his hands. one button.’ In the 1960s, offices flooded with new technology – At the time, young people always shared music, AKIO MORITA, duplicating machines, golf-ball typewriters, telexes and Even government can be wandering around in groups with throbbing ghetto- FOUNDER OF SONY more. simple. Clinton’s 1992 election blasters. But the only machine in that office with one-button team pinned these words to He was asking them to wander around listening to simplicity was the photocopier. their hotel room doors. music that no one else could hear. He knew they would Most companies that made office equipment in the find the concept weird, and would resist the idea. 1960s are now footnotes in history. 14 Y&R ADVERTISING MY BRAIN HURTS 15
  • 10. Not so Xerox, the inventor of that photocopier. 2. Simplicity builds loyalty Most tech products are so difficult to learn, that those that are easy inspire great loyalty from their users. Nokia gets the highest loyalty amongst mobile phone brands because their 2006 models work without your having to read the instruction manual – and in exactly the same way as their 1996 models. Similarly Canon’s Digital Ixus cameras inspire loyalty because their current seven megapixel model works in When they rent a car, most people can start But most new tech appliances do not work exactly the same it up and drive it without problem. without reading an instruction book. way as their two megapixel model from 2001. 3. Simplicity solves complex problems Even when a product is complex, it still pays to market it simply. When Microsoft was launching the latest Word upgrade a few years back, their engineers A $30,000 car needs an instruction unveiled a product with many new capabilities. book no more than 9mm thick. So why does a wireless router need one It had amazing mail merge, a 3D text graphics engine 30mm thick? and web integration. But Microsoft’s marketing didn’t mention any of these. They focused all their efforts on communicating Most people who use a computer less than The same is true of camcorders – many once a month forget how to use it between families simply forget how to operate theirs. sessions. 16 Y&R ADVERTISING
  • 11. something quite simple – its ability to make simple • Most national railway automatic ticketing machines spelling corrections like ‘ist’ to ‘its’ and ‘hte’ to ‘the’ as you have simple dialogues – but leave consumers typed. thinking they could have got a better deal elsewhere And the world went to their IT helpdesk and asked for if only they’d known the system better. To satisfy the upgrade. customers, you have to be transparently simple. • Moore’s Law means that software can get twice as 4. You can never be too simple complex every eighteen months. Message to For years internet search engines prided themselves on software designers: making it so is a bad idea. their simplicity. The MP3 player market was flooded Whilst other portals added complex offers and with multifunction devices that played confusing navigation, the search engines stuck to one FM radio and told the time as well as page. played music. Then Apple came in and took 80% of the market with a But all were trounced by Google with its one fill-in box, device that did only one thing. and otherwise blank screen. So So if you want your technology to fly, think simple: • Mobile phones are increasingly easy to make voice calls on, now their software has been simplified. But their airtime packages are still complex. Service providers think they are providing ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’ by offering 25 different price plans. They might attract more customers if they just offered just one good one. • Most online banking sites are simple – security fears make banks keep the functions to a minimum. Not so online share dealing sites. Some don’t display vital information if your monitor isn’t large enough; others are drenched with obscure finance-speak. If online dealing is going to break into the mainstream, these sites need a fundamental rethink. 18 Y&R ADVERTISING MY BRAIN HURTS 19
  • 12. As mankind’s first lunar module approached the moon’s surface in 1969, its main computer crashed. Today’s electronics consumer is far less tolerant of failure. 2. THINGS THAT DON’T WORK, DON’T WORK Marketing money is wasted on unripe technologies. In 2003, millions of people were captivated by the picture messaging campaigns of mobile service providers. And they upgraded their mobile phone to a camera phone. Then they charged up their phone, took a picture, and sent it to a friend. Very few of those friends ever saw the picture: • The majority of the pictures were sent to phones unable to display pictures. • The networks hadn’t agreed common technical standards, so any picture which crossed networks disappeared. • Many people who did receive the pictures never saw them, because they didn’t know how to open them. 20 Y&R ADVERTISING
  • 13. As a result, picture messaging failed in 2002/3. So Compare that with the previous great mobile messaging So make sure your technology works before you market technology, the SMS text: it: • Mobile service providers didn’t advertise SMS, as • Is the home wireless network ready for the mass they saw it as a competitor to their lucrative voice consumer market yet? Most routers require a PhD in calls. computing to set them up. • As a result, text messaging grew organically. • Internet telephony is also not quite ready for the ordinary consumer. Congratulations to Skype, who • Young people checked whether their friends had 2G When home networks break are continuing to allow their service to spread virally, down, how do you fix them? phones or not, and only sent texts to those who did. rather than pushing it at an unprepared mass market. • As compatibility grew in the mid 90s, text messaging Networking computers • We’re still waiting for it – the video editing application exploded all over Europe, Africa and Asia, with together can still stump for the common man. billions of messages a year being sent by 1996. even the geekiest of • Within a few years, texting was providing a new consumers. revenue stream of 7% of revenue for mobile service providers. Picture messaging failed, despite hundreds of millions of dollars of marketing because it wasn’t ready. Text messaging succeeded, despite any marketing, because it was ready. Technology producers need to think Sites like eBay and further about this, making sure their Craigslist are hitting technology is ready before they set newspaper classifeds out to market it. hard in the US. Before a technology is ready, no In Russia though, lower computer ownership amount of marketing will make it means that classified happen. advertising is still going Afterwards, not even silence can strong. stop it. 22 Y&R ADVERTISING MY BRAIN HURTS 23
  • 14. When watches ran fast and slow A similar thing happened with timekeeping in the late 1960s. At the time, everyone had clockwork watches, many of which lost or gained five minutes a day. Daily conversations revolved around the correct time, and adjusting watches and clocks. 3. WHAT WORKS NO LONGER MATTERS ‘Do you have the time please?’ was a standard pick-up line. Then digital quartz crystal technology arrived, When a technology finally promising precise timing. delivers on its promises, The accuracy of clocks and Precise timing caught the popular imagination. watches was a popular topic marketers should watch out. The dialogue of 1960s TV series reflects the of conversation for the two hundred years upto the invention of quartz The late 19th century was a great time for farmers. widespread belief at the time that ever more precise digital watches. Nowadays, it’s New technology – in the shape of traction engines, timing was the way of the future: just not an issue. harvesters and milling machines - was arriving on farms, ‘Negative, captain, the shuttle is landing in 24.8 making them more productive. seconds.’ Farming journals spoke of a new ‘golden age of farming’, ‘You have eight minutes and three seconds to of new heights of food production and of farming at last live Mr. Solo.’ becoming an important, economically vital industry. ‘Arrival in two point three eight six minutes But that’s not what happened. affirmative, Virkar.’ Over this period, agriculture fell from 60% of GDP to But by 1980, everyone had a super-accurate quartz under 3% in some industrial nations. watch, everyone knew the precise time. Farmers lost their power to affect change. Farming And the timing issue – and with it the craze for precise became a small part of the economy. timing - disappeared. Once the problem of adequate food production was The ungrateful consumer solved, it ceased to be an issue. When the main benefit of a technology is delivered, 24 Y&R ADVERTISING MY BRAIN HURTS 25
  • 15. consumers stop being grateful to companies for providing that benefit. And simply forget that that benefit exists. So watch out Consumers stop being grateful fast: • Mobile network service providers were the darlings of Europe in the 1990s as they let consumers talk to their friends anywhere, any time. But now that call quality is perfect, and everyone has a mobile phone, European mobile service providers are rapidly becoming perceived as little better than the state landline companies that preceded them. • In the 1920s, managing a steady flow of electricity into factories was such a critical issue that most companies had a main board electricity director. Once electricity supplies became secure, he disappeared. Does the same fate await CIOs, now that corporate PC and email systems all work? • With 24/7 global email and intranets, information flow within companies has now become so fast that information is no longer the critical factor holding them back. So are we now in the middle of the information age – or are we watching its end? Mobile phones which read barcodes on the bottom of ads will shortly be the wonder of the West. But they are already taken for granted in Japan. MY BRAIN HURTS 27
  • 16. 4. BEWARE THE COUNSEL OF NERDS Winning technologies are those that appeal to ordinary people, not just geeks. When Kodak introduced its point-and-shoot Box Brownie camera in 1900, American photographers laughed. They wanted better pictures – and that meant more sophisticated cameras. Kodak’s new offer was little more than a box with a hole at one end. But Kodak had inspired the average American to think that perhaps he could now take photographs all by himself. As there were a lot more ordinary Americans than there were photographers at the time, the brand rapidly came to dominate its market. Tech company employees often Similarly with AOL in the 1990s regard mainstreamers as dinosaurs. Throughout its early days in the mid 1990s, the online community laughed at AOL, with its no-brainer sign-up Some nerds choose to carry a selection of pens in their shirt pocket. Corporate health and safety manuals warn that this habit can be lethal in the event of an automobile accident. 28 Y&R ADVERTISING
  • 17. process, and cutesy low-tech imagery. As an AOL user you were regarded as pond life in chat rooms. An AOL email address was social death. But AOL had inspired the average American to think that perhaps even he could take the on-ramp to the cyberactive infobahn thing everyone was talking about. And as there were many more ordinary Americans out there than wired people at the time, AOL rapidly became the main dial-up way of accessing the internet. Ten years later, AOL remained attractive to many millions of ordinary Americans – and one of the biggest money earners on the web. Your audience loses its brain What AOL and Kodak understood, and what most tech brands don’t, is that as a market develops, levels of Not all software is designed by nerds for other nerds. On the understanding, and comfort do not rise. On the contrary, computer map on Virgin Atlantic they fall. flights, a dancing Elvis appears First come the nerds, with love of technology, and their as you fly over Greenland. intuitive sense of how it works. Then come the early adopters, excited by the technology, but with slightly less knowledge. Then the mainstream flood in, with their fears and ignorance. Jeff Bezos at Amazon focused firmly on the But a year later, when online purchasing became Finally come the laggards, who just don’t want to feel left mainstream. mainstream, suddenly Bezos’s planning bore fruit. out. When he first launched Amazon in 1997, he Unlike at most other online retail sites, the Over time, as the market floods with new, less tech savvy included a phone number for people who didn’t feel mainstream knew when they had placed an order at confident about transmitting their credit card Amazon. They knew they had an alternative if they consumers, the average level of understanding in the details online, together with rapid email didn’t want to transact online. And they knew when market falls rather than rises. And amongst advice- confirmation that an order had been accepted, was to expect the package. hungry new entrants, the level of tech savvy is even being processed and had been mailed out. And so whilst all other online retailers were losing lower. None of the geeks and nerds who were Amazon’s the mainstream’s trust with their bug-ridden first customers used the phone number; most payment processes and chaotic fulfilment, Amazon found the emails a nuisance. gained it. 30 Y&R ADVERTISING
  • 18. Companies need to tune their offer to these successive waves of less and less techy consumers. As time goes on their marketing has to get more basic, not more sophisticated. So: • Online banking portals worked fine for their first users in the 90s. But the sort of people who are trying online banking for the first time now aren’t that comfortable with software interfaces. They need to be simplified to cope. • Similarly with microwave ovens. They worked fine Mainstreamers are different: when they were bought by tech-savvy early-adopter In the early days of video in the housewives in the 1990s. But now they’re 1970s, cash-strapped mainstreamers mainstream. Brief to microwave designers: come up plugged their new VCR into their old TV set. with a microwave as idiot-proof as a regular oven. And the real benefit of a VCR to them • Vodafone are currently marketing simplified-interface was that they could, for the first time mobile phones aimed at mainstream people over in their lives, experience the luxury of changing channel without getting out forty. Could such an approach pay off in the digital of their armchair. camera market too? Are you a mainstreamer or some other type of person? Find out in our online personality test at http://4cs.yr.com/diys MY BRAIN HURTS 33
  • 19. 5. THINK INFECTION How fast a technology passes from person to person is decisive to its success. Between 2004 and 2007, two new devices appeared in the living rooms of the world: the flat panel TV, and the DVR. The flat panel TV rapidly became a must-have item across the world, despite its high prices. But the DVR grew much more slowly over the period - despite the fact that most DVR owners say that it has revolutionized their lives, and despite the fact that any satellite TV subscriber given a DVR never gives the service up. The reason flat panels have a much higher consumer-to- consumer infection rate: • In 2004, the flat panel TV was the high status item in early adopter homes. He talked about the amazing The most successful technologies spread virally from person to person. 34 Y&R ADVERTISING
  • 20. picture quality; she endorsed its The DVR is growing much more slowly because no one minimalist lines and space-saving can express quite why it’s so good. ability. So And they repeated their sell to every If you want the world to accept your device quickly, visitor to their home. concentrate on making it more infectious: • By 2005, the world was sold on flat • The iPod spread fast because even if you put yours panel TVs. Mr Average was inviting inside your jacket pocket, your white headphones his friends round to watch football on were still visible to everyone around you. Other MP3 it, and extolling its virtues to them. Photography only took off when player manufacturers need to think up a similar people learned to ask their audience Compare that with DVRs over the mechanic. to pose and say cheese. period: • It was the ‘my friends are’ section of the homepage • In 2004, the first TiVo and Sky+ At airports, retailers, and that made MySpace spread like wildfire through owners were amazed by their devices, and found nightclubs plasma schools and colleges. Everyone went out and asked themselves suddenly no longer watching live screens are spreading like wildfire. their friends to sign up and link to their page, television. because otherwise it would be obvious that they • They tried to communicate their experience to their were simply not popular. friends, but couldn’t. Their friends just thought they • The Blackberry spread fast because every email it had a digital version of a normal video player. sent included ‘sent from my wireless BlackBerry • In 2005, DVRs had become more mainstream. But handheld’ by default. Why don’t other again, owners struggled to rave about them to their communications systems brand their output? friends. ‘It lets you pause live TV.’ was the best they could do. ‘How often do I want to pause live TV?’ came the reply. Today, in 2006, DVR owners continue to struggle to articulate what the DVR has done for them - despite the fact that they have moved into a completely new world of on-demand television. The flat panel TV succeeded rapidly because consumers found it easy to infect their friends with the need for one, 36 Y&R ADVERTISING MY BRAIN HURTS 37
  • 21. THERE’S NOT THAT MUCH GOING ON IN THE WORLD APART FROM BEX TM THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION, SAY Google 99.8 ECONOMIC HISTORIANS TiVo 99.7 We still drive around in automobiles, Nike 99.4 invented in 1899, fly around in jumbo jets iPod 98.6 from 1968, and worry about atomic Starbucks 96.8 weapons invented in 1945. 6. BUYING IS ONLY THE BEGINNING Our best scientists spend their time exploring Einstein’s theory of relativity PlayStation Crate & Barrel 92.3 88.0 from 1915 and the theory of quantum JetBlue 87.2 Successful technologies are mechanics from the 1920s. Ben and Jerry’s 87.1 Because not much else fundamental is Gap 86.7 those that consumers happening in the world today, digital rethink their lives around. technology brands are some of the most Subway 85.6 energetic brands in the world, when Mini Cooper 85.0 Most tech marketers advertise and promote heavily to measured on Y&R’s global BrandAsset Target 74.7 get their consumer to buy their products. Valuator study. Louis Vuitton 71.0 Once that consumer has left the shop, they see their job But not all tech brands are equally Staples 68.4 as done. successful. Some tech brands are less energetic than McDonalds 65.8 But the success of tech products relies massively on others, and the thing that drags the also- Samsung 64.1 whether consumers adopt the product for everyday use rans down is often consumer confusion. BlackBerry 61.2 or not. Imperfect marketing drags tech brands’ Banana Republic 59.6 No tech product succeeds long term if the consumer energy levels down in three key ways: The Body Shop 56.6 buys the product, takes it home and puts it in a drawer. • Lack of consumer understanding of Heinz 54.7 where a tech brand is heading in a Whether they integrate it into their lives is what separates philosophical sense drags down its level MasterCard 52.8 a successful tech product from the rest. of VISION. Chipotle 52.0 • If consumers do not recognise and Domino’s Pizza 51.9 Integrating the video camera respond to a brand’s innovation For instance, most Americans or Europeans using a Sierra Mist 43.8 activities, this drags down its level of video camera will stand motionless, zooming in and out, INVENTION. Blockbuster 43.5 producing boring video. • If the brand doesn’t exude a sense of Amtrak 41.8 buzz, this pulls down its level of Delta Air Lines 40.1 Give that same video camera to a young Japanese woman, however, and the reaction is completely DYNAMISM. Tostitos 32.7 On the right are energy levels for 30 J Crew 32.2 brands in the US. Google is top of the pile. 38 Y&R ADVERTISING Source: BAV USA Jan-Dec 2004
  • 22. different. Many will start narrating as they use the video camera, interviewing people as they film them, and producing their own personal documentary. The result is much more compelling and shareable. And so video cameras have become a much more central part of young Japanese life than they are in the In Japan, young women integrate technology West. into their lives much more readily than in the Integrating the homepage West. It’s also the difference between ordinary homepages and the homepages people create on social networking sites like FaceBook, Bebo and MySpace. The web homepage has been around for years, but never became a vital part of anyone’s life, because, after the first few hits, no one’s friends could ever be bothered looking at it. It was only when MySpace decided that homepages were a social networking tool – and fifty million teenagers realised that they would never get another date without looking good on theirs - that the idea took off. So Many tech brands should think harder about how The period 1900 to 1940 saw the appearance of the automobile, the airplane, electricity, they want people to use their products. radio and many other technologies. Then they should publicise their ‘usage These technologies changed our grandparents’ instructions’: and great-grandparents’ lives out of all recognition. • Computer manufacturers need to articulate better how their modern In the period 1980-2006 there has been much less change. media-centric computers can change Apart, that is, from the rapid development of their users’ lives. They currently say digital technology. 40
  • 23. ‘Store hours of TV’. It’s not enough to persuade non- owners to buy. • YouTube.com is attracting a lot of people who want to share the movies they’ve made with their webcam or MP4 recorder. But it has not yet defined how non movie-makers should use its site. They need to sell the ‘YouTube evening’ 7. THE SECOND GENERATION USES as a more compelling alternative to TV. • Camcorders are getting smaller and more robust. DIFFERENTLY Congratulations to Samsung on positioning their latest tiny camcorders as extreme sports recording The true impact of Extreme sports devices. camcorders: technology on a society may Cooool. take a generation. When mobile phones first became popular in the early nineties, the first generation of consumers to use them found they were a very useful part of their social lives. If they were late for a dinner appointment, they could call their friends and apologise from their car. If they made a mistake in an arrangement, they could call the other person and find them. The second generation are different But the next generation to use them do so differently. They no longer make plans in advance, because they don’t need to. They know that all their friends can be contacted at any time because they all have mobile phones with them. And so they just arrange their evening by phone on the go. 42 Y&R ADVERTISING MY BRAIN HURTS 43
  • 24. For the first generation of users, mobile phones were a helpful aid to their existing social lives. For the second generation, mobile phones have redefined their social lives. Similarly with PCs A similar change happened with PCs. When the first generation of companies bought PCs in the 1980s, they regarded them as a better form of typewriter, and put them on their secretaries’ desks. But the next generation of executives in the 1990s were First generation corporations used all computer literate. email to allow their managers to communicate better. And so their companies gave them the PCs, and gave the secretaries pink slips. When digitization hit, first generation But then Britain’s Arctic Monkeys made Similarly with email musicians called their lawyers. themselves famous through MP3 downloads. First generation CEOs used email to improve communications across their management structure. Next generation CEOs used the improved information flow to flatten command structures, cutting out the layers of management that were no longer necessary. With both PCs and email, the first generation of companies used them to make their existing structures work better. The second generation redefined their structures around Second generation corporations the new technology. eliminated the managers. So Watch the way the second generation use technology for the way it will really impact the world: • Current TiVo users still do most of their viewing live, And singer Sandi Thom made it through Today, savvy record companies use CDs as a webcasts. medium for selling ringtones. 44 Y&R ADVERTISING
  • 25. as they have TV schedules etched into their brains. But no one will remember TV schedules if they don’t have to. And so the next generation are likely to use their TiVos differently, collecting most of their viewing to watch when they want. Classical ad industry watch out. • Current drivers use satnav as an aid to the mental maps they already have in their 8. CONSUMERS LEARN ONLY heads. But who will bother to memorise a map if they don’t need to? Expect the next generation of motorists to THROUGH DOING be completely lost when Like the generation of schoolkids who forgot how to their satnav breaks down. Every tech device or service today comes with an add one and one to get two because they were instruction manual, which can be up to five centimetres allowed calculators in their math exams, expect the thick. next generation of motorists to be completely lost when their satnav breaks down. Tech manuals are so incomprehensible that some manufacturers pray silently that someone will write a ‘for Dummies’ book to explain how to use their new device. But the problem goes beyond this. Observations show that most consumers never read the instruction book, no matter how well written. The only way most consumers learn is by handling a Instructions for using payphones in South Africa device and trying to make it work. The only way most are visual, because South consumers learn is by doing. Africans speak eleven ‘Plug and play’ was therefore never a manufacturer different languages. Other telecoms companies could strategy. It is just a consumer reality. learn from this. 46 Y&R ADVERTISING MY BRAIN HURTS 47
  • 26. Consumers fear the confusing What’s more, consumers know they don’t read instruction books. So when they look at a new device and they don’t understand how it works, they tend not to buy it. This means that one of the most useful roles of technology marketing is to explain what a thing does in advance. If consumers feel they understand a device before they buy it, one of the biggest fears they have is removed. This is why tech stores like CompUSA and Germany’s Saturn chain allow consumers to ‘play’ with their wares so freely. Consumers aren’t just playing with them – they are working out how to use them – and thus significantly increasing their likelihood to buy. Similarly with games – giving away the first few levels for free creates a huge market of hooked users, who simply have to finish. So: • The vogue for ‘usability testing’ – rooms full of students surfing to websites and exploring the user- friendliness of their navigation and payment systems happened too late in the internet boom to make a difference to the companies that used it. Usability testing needs a revival. • Most DV camcorders have a ‘demo mode’ for use by retailers. The camcorder cycles through demonstrations of its main features to the delight of browsing customers. All well and good – but a demo 48 Y&R ADVERTISING
  • 27. mode for use by forgetful owners would also be useful. • And not just in audiovisual equipment - a demo mode would be massively helpful in office phone systems too. • The latest camcorders have ‘easy’ mode buttons that allow users who have never read the manual to use them. More consumer electronics devices, from 9. PRICE DICTATES PERCEPTION satellite receivers to microwave ovens need such a button. Consumers value things according to their price. ‘If the car had developed at the same speed as the computer’, say Silicon Valley geeks, ‘Today you’d be driving from Los Angeles to New York in under four minutes. And the car would cost you less than twenty cents.’ The boast reflects the flipside of Moore’s Law: that digital technology tends to halve in price every couple of years or so, and keep doing so for decades: • $3000 plasma panels from 2003 sell for $500 today in 2006. • $1000 camcorders from 2003 now sell for $300. • $300 DVD players from 2002 now sell for less than As PCs become cheaper, they are the cost of the cable that connects them to the TV. increasingly being sold by hard Coping with such price falls, and resulting changes in discount food outlets. consumer expectations and perceptions are amongst the most difficult issues in tech marketing: • Consumers who bought a state-of-the-art computer 50 Y&R ADVERTISING MY BRAIN HURTS
  • 28. in 2002 have difficulty accepting that their machine today is virtually obsolete. • Indeed, consumer expectations of price falls are often the biggest barrier to sales today: many consumers say they didn’t buy a 42 inch plasma to watch the 2006 World Cup on because they thought that plasma screens would halve in price by Christmas. In Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, 2019 Los Angeles detective • On the other hand, consumers are often so Harrison Ford interviews an exotic good at finding uses for cut-price technology dancer who performs with a snake. that marketers need to be careful: ‘Is that a real snake?’ asks Ford. The Mercury 1-2-1 mobile phone company thought The snake is an artificial living they were doing their customers a small favour copy. when they offered them unlimited free evening calls ‘If I could afford a real snake,’ between their mobiles in the late nineties. replies the dancer, ‘would I be dancing here?’ What they didn’t expect was for their network to be jammed by customers who chose to go out drinking for the evening, leaving one phone permanently on in their baby’s cot at home as a baby monitor. So The speed of falling prices are of massive importance to any tech based marketer: • Lexus built its reputation around the many electronic devices and features which were fitted as standard in its vehicles. Today though, Airtime is so cheap in 2006 the cost of these features has fallen dramatically, and that mobile phone many are now fitted as standard on mid range companies can saloons. Lexus needs to develop new reputations – offer free airtime to and to do so fast. couples without risk. 75% of the cost of running a newspaper lies in its distribution: printing, delivering and chopping down trees. Digitization is allowing newspaper proprietors to cut all of these costs - but the indications are that consumers value news they receive for free less. MY BRAIN HURTS 53
  • 29. • As average voice revenue per user continues to fall for mobile phone companies, they need to encourage ‘Talk for hours, people to spend more time on the phone. Young women already rate their boyfriends by how not minutes.’ frequently they call and text them; Perhaps marketers HEADLINE, should start to suggest to them that the ultimate sign HUTCHINSON WHAMPOA of commitment is the always-on relationship – where ‘3’ MOBILE PHONE AD an (exceptionally besotted) couple agree to sleep, eat and work with an always-on phone connection 10. THE VISIBLE WINS between them. • ‘Information wants to be free’, said internet Consumers place little value visionaries in the nineties. They may as well have said on things they can’t see. ‘Information wants to be worthless.’ When Karl Benz’s first automobile hit the roads in 1889, people called it ‘the horseless carriage’. Every previous form of road transportation they had seen had horses in front. The striking thing about this one was that it didn’t. Similarly when the radio first appeared. Unlike gramophones and telephones, it had no wires attached. So people called it the ‘wireless’. But the names didn’t last. After a while, the lack of horses and wires faded from the public memory. As wireless devices become commonplace, And people started calling the wireless a radio. consumers will forget And the horseless carriage an automobile. that wires ever existed. Over time, consumers stop valuing, and eventually don’t even remember, things they can’t see. It’s a lesson technology-based companies have often failed to heed. If consumers can’t see your product or 54 Y&R ADVERTISING MY BRAIN HURTS 55
  • 30. service, it stands a much lower chance of long-term success: • Consumers can’t see satellites. So they failed to get hooked by satellite phone technology. In the late 1990s, the Iridium consortium had a network of forty satellites orbiting the earth, allowing phone coverage across the whole planet. It was a pretty cool idea. But the consumer didn’t buy - because all they saw was a handset the size of a brick. • Mobile network service providers suffer from being invisible. As a result, mobile handset manufacturers became stronger brands than mobile service providers across the world. The smart mobile service providers in the nineties were Orange and Vodafone, who insisted on putting their logos on phones connected to their networks. France Telecom paid $45 billion for Orange in 2001. That’s how much that brand was worth. • The Blackberry wireless handheld device took the corporate world by storm in 2003. But the Harman/Kardon took an Blackberry’s marketers were careful not to market invisible ingredient brand - the computer speaker - their device as a ‘wireless network technology’. They and turned it into a simply sold it as a handheld device called a desirable object in its own Blackberry. And the question on the lips of owners of right. all other PDAs was not ‘How do I get my PDA to connect?’ but ‘Why can’t I have a Blackberry?’ So make yourself visible Digital marketers need to work out how to make their activity visible to the consumer, and then brand it: Breaking into your neighbour’s unsecured WiFi network is the yuppy game of the mid 2000s. But WiFi is invisible. As it becomes more widespread and more reliable, people will forget that it exists. MY BRAIN HURTS 57
  • 31. • Can you see WiFi, GPS and BlueTooth? Don’t bank on these brand names being in perfect health in 2010. • Congratulations to Dolby Labs for getting their logo on every piece of hi-fi equipment for the past thirty years. But surely they could have done more with such a famous brand? • Digital technology means consumers use ATM networks to withdraw money from banks nowadays, so no one goes into their branches any more. In the 19th Century, banks spent a fortune on a good visual appearance, decorating their branches with marble and other fine stones. Today, they need to spend some money making their ATMs look a little more special. • In today’s online world, the one visible thing a bank offers is a credit card. And the logo that guarantees acceptability of these cards is that of Visa, not the bank. Visa is thus the world’s strongest financial brand, and could play a powerful role in cross-selling the insurance and investment products banks are currently struggling with. ATMs are banks’ sole point of contact with their customer nowadays. They need a design upgrade. Airlines make their frequent flyer schemes visible through cards and luggage tags. Tech companies need to consider how to make their offerings more visible too. MY BRAIN HURTS