October 11

Book Review – ‘The Shallows’ by Nicholas Carr

Post by Tim Connor

In Tony Kushner’s extraordinary 20th century epic ‘Angels in America’ (made into a stunning TV film starring Al Pacino and Emma Thompson) one of the central characters passes comment on how ‘The world only spins forward’. I’ve always found that ‘only’ to be both exciting and a little unsettling. The line is a brief yet poetic way of articulating how, in all walks of life, we should resign ourselves to the fact that over time progress is inevitable and – the unsettling part – unstoppable. But is progress always to our advantage? And can something that brings great benefit also stealthily develop serious and negative side effects?

Before I risk getting too philosophical, Nicholas Carr’s new book, The Shallows: How The Internet Is Rewiring Our Brains is an illuminating examination of exactly this issue but rooted in common sense as well as commercial business nouse. It would be foolhardy to attempt to summarise Carr’s core arguments into a few sentences here, indeed in a way it would be in keeping with the very trend he is rallying against. But know this: what The Long Tail was to internet economists and The Tipping Point became to business school students, I believe The Shallows will become to any business (or individual, for that matter) in the digital space with a social conscience. Whilst The Cluetrain Manifesto encouraged us to get with it and, in the spirit of the poet Ezra Pound ‘Make it new!’, The Shallows, like a wallflower at the school disco, urges us to hit pause and take stock a second.

One of the many messages I took from Carr’s book – though I strongly encourage you to read it and draw your own insights – was a concern for our ability to concentrate; the loss of depth of knowledge in favour of breadth of knowledge. The internet’s greatest gift is access to all – every nugget of information and entertainment we could hope for is but a click away. But you may have noticed, as I certainly have, that all this clicking is affecting the way we think. With so many interfaces before us (not forgetting the human ones of friends and spouses), we are inclined to flit from one thing to another (’skimming’ is Carr’s preferred term), rarely engrossing ourselves but happily dipping a toe into a pick ‘n’ mix of content. As Beck and Davenport wrote in their book The Attention Economy, ‘human bandwith is finite’ and as Carr points out, the likes of Google are in the ‘business of distraction’ to clog up this bandwith:

Google’s profits are tied directly to the velocity of people’s information intake. The faster we surf across the surface of the Web… the more opportunities Google gains to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements… it’s in Google’s economic interest to make sure we click as often as possible. The last thing the company wants is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought.

I return to my comment on The Shallows being essential reading for any business with a social conscience. I was bothered that advertising was singled out with an implied negative leaning. I would argue that advertising targeted on behavioural rather than broad ABC1 mass-style segmentation is a lot better way of communicating relevantly with potential prospects and existing customers. You piss off fewer people too. Yet, I finished this book feeling that perhaps we should question more carefully the social impact of marketing in the online arena, given how increasingly business and personal lives blend into one.

What I admire most about Carr’s argument is his refusal to be either for or against the Internet – that would be too simplistic. Instead, he provides chunks describing the history of communication in flux – his section on print is especially enlightening – that leave us facing questions. He simply recognises that as we grow ever more dependent on the web’s tools those who use it for commercial gain must acknowledge this increased intimacy between individuals online and the business messages we communicate.

Now we must not only be concerned with client objectives but take responsibility for how communications shape social opinions and behaviours, lest persuasion unknowingly slides down the slippery slope towards manipulation. David Ogilvy, the founder of Ogilvy & Mather, called for ad men to be ‘gentlemen with brains’. That calling has never been more pressing.

Tim Connor is an account manager for OgilvyOne, London. Part of Ogilvy’s BT home entertainment team, he has previously worked across account management, data operations and planning for a range of clients including IKEA, NSPCC, Novartis and LoveFilm. He is fascinated by all things digital, in particular how direct marketing business techniques can underpin the latest advances in technology.

October 2

Mobile Mad Men

Post by Andrew Lamb

Last month, the Digital Lab at Westbourne Terrace welcomed a range of the brightest minds in mobile to speak at the Mobile Mad Men event. Attendees from across the Ogilvy Group and beyond listened to presentations from Paul Berney (Head of the Mobile Marketing Association), Jason da Ponte (formerly Executive Producer for bbc.co.uk and now Managing Editor for the BBC’s Mobile Platforms), Ben Scott-Robinson (Creative Director at We Love Mobile) and Scott Seaborn (Ogilvy’s Head of Mobile Technologies).

A strong theme of the event was the growing importance of mobile in our lives. It’s estimated that in the UK we already have an average of 1.3 mobiles each, and the ascent of smartphones will only increase their centrality. New 3G connections are expected to outstrip those of broadband in the near future and apps, already worth $4 billion a year, are predicted to become a $17.5 billion market by 2012.

The growth has been driven by the functionality and portability offered by mobile devices. Mobiles are always at our side – in fact 90% of 18–29-year-olds sleep with their phones – and the medium has largely been a platform for messaging and communication. Traditionally this has been SMS-based, but email, Facebook, Twitter, BlackBerry Messenger and other services have recently become more important.

The web is also central to the rise of mobile – 50% of page views are predicted to come from mobile phones by 2013, and this has enormous implications for the design, promotion and content of websites. Add to that the potential of geolocation, cameras, voice and audio working together, and the claim (made by Jason da Ponte during his presentation) that mobiles will become the ‘primary computing devices’ in our lives does not seem overstated.

However, there are some threats to the growth of mobile. These include user cost, a fragmentation of devices and operating systems, and the difficulties of deploying rich media such as Flash and video over mobile devices. A potential solution to some of these problems is offered by HTML5, and we could see a future of device-agnostic ‘web widgets’ rather than full-blown apps.

The speakers offered a number of practical recommendations for those working in mobile, or planning mobile projects – these were perhaps best summarised by Ben Scott-Robinson, who argued that successful mobile projects tended to be those which were beautiful, accessible, integrated with other channels, and – last but not least – both useful and simple to use.

For more information on the Mobile Mad Men event, contact Adam Burrows (@bugsyburrows).

June 29

Ogilvy’s Portfolio Night and the Digital Lab

Post by Hollie Alexander

After months of excitement, planning and expectation Ogilvy London welcomed Portfolio Night 8 to its Canary Wharf offices on 20th May 2010. Portfolio Night is an opportunity for newbie creatives to get their work under the noses of the London ad industry’s leading creative minds. But it also proved to be an opportunity for the Ogilvy Digital Labs to talk to the creatives of the future. Understanding digital innovation and an awareness of new digital trends and creative channels is key for advertising. And these guys have a natural passion to learn more about this kind of stuff. So we invited them all into our Digital Lab to show them our kit and hopefully inspire them to think beyond the traditional.

Check out the video below from the night and keep a look out for the footage of the Canary Wharf Digital Lab.

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June 29

Augmented reality Show & Tell

Post by Andrea Hackett

Last Friday saw the second Show & Tell at the Digital Lab in Westbourne Terrace since its opening in May. The focus of the session was augmented reality and we welcomed AR experts Nick Brown and Andrew Elia from Crossplatform. They showcased their innovative AR software and explained how it can be applied to advertising campaigns. We were also shown examples of their recent work, so the creative teams were able to visualise AR in live campaigns.

Crossplatform’s AR software can recognise any image or object to deliver 3D, CGI or digital video executions. You simply put an image up to a webcam to trigger the programmed content, which is then overlaid on the webcam image as it is displayed back to you on the screen. This content can be anything from a personal video message from your friends to a 360° view of a product that you will see rotate as you move the image around in your hands. The software even supports facial recognition.

At the end of the session we were able to try it out for ourselves and were wowed by the Transformer mask that appeared in front of our faces when we were stood in front of the webcam, and the printed magazine cover that came alive in our hands.

For more information on Crossplatform’s services, contact Nick Brown, Co-Founder, on +44 (0) 7808 130 388 or visit their website.

June 4

First Show & Tell for the new Westbourne Terrace Digital Lab

Post by Andrea Hackett

There was buzz on the staircase of the WPP offices in Westbourne Terrace this Wednesday when the Show & Tell attendees filed out of the various companies and into the presentation theatre. Jeff Marois from MXP4 was waiting with his laptop open, ready to showcase the latest innovations in digital music apps and viral campaigns.

MXP4 have developed a range of apps that allow users to interact with and explore their favourite music by dissecting the different musical elements (percussion, vocals etc) to create their own remix. These apps can be adapted for the iPhone or spread virally on the Internet through sharing via social media networks.

Jeff kept the Creative and Tech teams engrossed with case studies from his recent client work, which included work with artists and international brands. He explained how an online viral music app can tie into advertising campaigns and stated that users spend an average of 9 minutes interacting with the apps online. This highlights how effective viral campaigns can be for brand engagement.

Everyone left the session inspired – a very promising first session for the new Digital Lab in Westbourne Terrace.

Contact details for MXP4

Jeff Marois
VP Business Development
E: jeff@mxp4.com
FR +33 6 72 51 42 32
UK +44 7874 993 265
US +1 646 266 0675

Follow Andrea Hackett on Twitter

May 14

New Digital Lab at Westbourne Terrace

Post by Andrew Lamb

This coming Wednesday sees the launch of the new Digital Lab at the WPP offices in Westbourne Terrace. The Lab, a collaboration between all the WPP companies based near Paddington, will showcase the latest in digital hardware to WPP staff and clients, allowing them to get hands-on experience, and to develop, test and deploy innovative content for state-of-the-art platforms.

The Lab was inspired by the original Ogilvy Digital Lab at Canary Wharf, and has been coordinated by Ogilvy Healthworld and Ogilvy Action staff based at Westbourne Terrace. The technology has been provided by our Digital Lab Partners and includes:

– augmented reality demos (CrossPlatform)
– a 360° TV (Yershon Media Solutions)
– a gaming pod (EA Video Games)
– a wireless mobile chargebox (Scramblr)
– a Holobox (activ-8 3D)
– interactive iPhone gaming (Velti)
– Amplifi wifi content delivery technology (The Bright Place)
– a touch table (Touch It)
– QR code clothing (QRazyStuff)
– point-and-find technology (Nokia)
– an interactive floor projection (EyeClick).

Digital Lab Partners will be on hand at the launch to explain their technology, give demos, and answer any questions. The Lab underlines the commitment of all the WPP companies in Westbourne Terrace to developing strong relationships with suppliers in order to help deliver cutting-edge projects for clients.

The launch takes place between 5.30pm and 8.30pm on Wednesday 19 May, and all WPP employees are welcome. For more details or to arrange a client tour, email the Digital Lab, or contact Andrew Lamb, Andrea Hackett or Amy Johnson (Ogilvy Healthworld), or Adam Burrows (Ogilvy Action).

Use the hashtag #WTLab to search for and post about the Westbourne Terrace Digital Lab on Twitter.

December 10


Post by Davina Blake Lawson

For all those busy people who haven’t got time to read all the things you actually want to then get instapaper.

1. Find something you want to read but you don’t have time to read it – click READ LATER (only in Firefox or Safari)
2. Then when you have time to read it log-on to your instapaper account (on your computer or iphone) and read it later. Can be read offline on iphones. Contributed by Victoria Hutchinson.



December 8

Google takes local search to real world with Favourite Places stickers

Post by Davina Blake Lawson

In-line with the trend of mixing up the digital world with the real world, Google have just launched ‘Favourite Place’ stickers in the US. These stickers are sent out to and displayed in businesses most sought out on Google’s search and mapping sites.

They contain codes that can be scanned by mobiles phone cameras (using appropriate app) which will automatically bring up the business Place Page on the screen of the phone.

Check out the video for a short explanation… http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/news/bulletin/mediapm/article/972419/?DCMP=EMC-MediaPMBulletin

Contributed by Anne Fuell

December 3

@AskAmex_UK LIVE!

Post by Davina Blake Lawson

Our clients at Amex have launched a UK Twitter Servicing page today! It will be manned by three Amex reps who will scan tweets to spot Cardmembers in need of support. Contributed by Hamish Priest.


December 2

A new viral hit?

Post by Davina Blake Lawson

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So it’s not really “innovation” per se, but this new video is mesmerizing and is bound to take off. From the guys who brought you the treadmill viral sensation – check out the new OK GO video. All done in one take! Contributed by Olivia Rzepczynski.