Last weekend, I attended the second Silicon Beach conference in Bournemouth and it was another fantastic event. As I already posted, this year at Moov2 I’m putting a lot of focus on our marketing efforts but was feeling a little out of my depth so #sb12 was a fantastic kick start I needed to get some new ideas.
Below is an attempt to summarise the presentations at this years Silicon Beach and where relevant what I’ve taken away from it.
Shane is the co-founder of Onedotzero a “global-reaching moving image organization and festival”. He shared the onedotzero back story and showed some stunning examples of their events, installations and collaborations with artists. Some really inspiring digital artefacts. Onedotzero has been struck with recent funding cuts so is looking for new support here in the UK, their events are continuing abroad and it would be a huge shame to lose their local presence.
Nicole presented at last years Silicon Beach and shared some of the disruptive innovation she is involved with at Ogilvy. It was good to see her back again and equally interesting to hear about more disruptions she’s involved with in working with young people and smashing the “cookie cutter Oxbridge” approach to resourcing in digital agencies. She’s doing great work in an amazing collaboration called “The Rough Diamond“. Nicole’s talk really highlighted the importance of breaking from norms and what can be achieved with the right mindset.
James is digital marketing manager at Bauer Media (parent company for brands such as FHM, Grazia, Heat and many many more household names). His presentation was titled “Moving SEO Out of the Silo” and focused on involving people across an organisation in the role of “SEO” as opposed to leaving it up to some silo’d department or external resource to deal with it single handedly.
SEO is a term many developers and digital creators cringe over due to the volume of “quick-fix” companies offering ridiculous promises and exploitation of “black-hat” techniques. Fortunately, James doesn’t fall into this stereotype and I agree with his approach which essentially boils down to quality content. If everyone in the company is aware of the importance of quality material and its impact on visibility and perception across the web (to actual people as well as search engines) then the process of “SEO” becomes a happy by-product rather than a required seedy process to be tackled with an armoury of deceitful tricks.
This is very important to me as one of my primary excuses for not embracing marketing fully so far is because of the amount of unethical approaches there are. The focus on quality content and involving everyone in the creation of such is what I’m taking away from James session.
This was probably my favourite talk of the conference, Allister is a well decorated Marketing veteran with previous prestigious roles at Microsoft and Kimberly-Clark and now runs his own Marketing Consultancy Wild Orange Media. The reason this talk resonated so much with me was because of Allister’s personal mission: Make Marketing Noble Again
As I alluded to already, dicey marketing tactics aren’t really my thing and Allister nailed this subject with a deep understanding of what those tactics are and the psychology behind them. He shared some great examples of questionable approaches and insights into “neuromarketing” a subject he has been researching extensively.
The idea of noble marketing really appeals to me and Allister helped me conclude a concrete decision to ensure that our marketing efforts at Moov2 will indeed be noble and reflective of what we do best as opposed to what sells best.
Ash Amrite & Johnny Watson
@Ash_75 & @Jay_Wizzle
Ash and Johnny provided a behind the scenes look at their campaign “Tour de Francis” for Halfords cycles. As a keen cyclist this was a very interesting presentation and again offered validation of the theme of genuine marketing. Contrasting this years campaign to previous they explained how they raised the bar by creating something attention worthy as opposed to just trying to generate attention through meaningless ads and promotion. They did so by really understanding and appreciating the hearts and minds of their target audience before executing a truly inspiring documentary that deserved attention for simply being an interesting and well executed concept.
The background to the Tour de Francis campaign is what sticks out for me, not just creating something glossy that shows off what the brand wants to show. But actually caring about what the audience will be interested in and crafting an experience that adds genuine value and encourages genuine engagement.
What was also very encouraging was how the success and impact of this project seems somewhat addicting to Ash and Johnny, they seem hungry to produce more heartfelt, relevant campaigns so hopefully we’ll see more of this quality output.
I highly recommend giving the campaign video a watch:
Tiffany St James & Gemma Went
@tiffanystjames & @gemmawent
Tiffany and Gemma have been paying a huge amount of attention to the role of Digital in Television, particularly social media. They offered some very interesting statistics and valuable insight concluding that indeed TV is not dead. What is most interesting is what we don’t yet know, it’s still very early days and there are still many experiments to be done with the crossover between traditional TV and digital.
Tom shared a bit of a history lesson from his illustrious adland career and some details of his website creativebrief.com. He made an interesting point that even small agencies should be looking at a national or even international playing field. Wider competition is encouraging more innovative thinking and the local agencies can no longer rely on being the default for local business.
Paul is the Director General of IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising – an acronym only deciphered on their website by the title tag). I wasn’t really sure who the IPA were but it seemed to be one of those “known” things, I’ve since looked it up and they are a self governing trade body for the ad industry (and seemingly a well respected one at that). Paul had the recent opportunity to head out to Google and experience some of their future offerings such as Google Glass and Google Fibre. Both projects truly representative of what the near future will likely hold. Paul also has a decent arsenal of humorous but relevant videos, he ended with a notable one about Code club an amazing initiative being carried out to teach kids to code.
Syd kicked off day 2 with an attack on the eyes with his entire presentation being made up of animated gifs. His company is called “We make awesome sh.it” and has a rather unique business model which works along the lines of: Build stuff, stuff that may or may not be useful/interesting/relevant but will definitely be fun… then get paid to re-purpose it.
I’m paraphrasing but that’s the general idea, and it’s working. Syd does indeed make awesome sh*t, such as his solution to the age old problem of where to get instragram pictures of cats: catstagram, or how to resolve the distinct lack of digital bunting in the world through to even more problem solving solutions such as tune-a-fish.
Syd’s message was to encourage play. Something that comes so easily to us as children but quickly forgotten as we throw ourselves into adulthood, careers and other real life responsibilities. The result of play, in his work, has landed him some prestigious clients including Nokia, Microsoft and Kylie to name but a few. For me, Syd’s message was received loud and clear and has triggered a new found enthusiasm for creating less “important” stuff in the name of having fun. My next side project is already under way and is far less useful than my normal personal project fodder and I’ve already had a lot of fun with it.
This approach is also relevant to what we do at Moov2 and I will be encouraging fun in our frequent experiments and learning time. Sometimes, stupid fun stuff can result in very newsworthy outcomes which also obviously help in marketing efforts.
Andy gave a great, very open and honest talk about Mint Digital and their in-house ventures, sharing details of both the successful projects and those that didn’t take off so well. An interesting conclusion he drew was that their projects involving a physical element (Foldable me and Stickygram) were the most successful attributing it to our higher perceived value of physical belongings and that the decreasing value of digital “stuff” due to it’s pullulating nature.
Andy explained the lean and agile practices used by mint which was reassuring as we follow very similar practices. His comparisons of their successes v failures were both re-assuring and unnerving in that a team of clearly very talented digital pros can both make and break on good ideas. What I did take away from his talk though was to keep trying, as they have done and proven that good ideas well executed can make for a very worthwhile business.
Patrick introduced chirp.io, a means of sending data between devices via a series of high pitched audio tones (chirps). Patrick had a sort of nutty professor quality about him and made his presentation informative, inspiring and entertaining. Chirp is a phenomenal blending of forgotten and modern technologies delivering what is presented as a beautifully simple idea (sending data via audio) executed with some very clever technologies (audio encoding/decoding, maintaining quality, noise cancellation etc).
Chirp is available for free on iOS and is aiming to be an accessible protocol that can be implemented on any device with suitable speaker/microphone capabilities. Chirp followed on wonderfully with the themes of “play” and blending of digital and physical and I will certainly be making time to have a play about with it as the technology evolves.
Steve offered some insights from his working as a mentor to many young start ups and business people. He drew some great analogies and carried out some interesting drawing exercises highlighting some key considerations for organisational structure.
Dave not only kept the audience entertained as master of ceremonies for the two days but also had to deliver his own presentation. Dave has extensive experience in the ad agency world and has furthered this by talking to many experts in the field as part of his future of advertising podcast and authoring of his book a A user guide to the creative mind.
Fortunately I can spare re-iterating what Dave presented as he’s kindly recorded a voice-over for his slide deck which I definitely recommend. Dave’s talk was fantastic and offered some invaluable insights to fostering (or rather butchering) creativity within an organisation.
Additionally to being an excellent compère and presenter he also entertained the crowd during a technical issue with some top quality harmonica playing!
Liri has vast cross-nation/industry/business experience and presented insights on the changing state of global markets and evolving economic climate. She explained how enterprises are looking at emerging markets and developing countries born out of the “hourglass” shape of our current economy.
Liri went on to explain some of the work she’s doing and examples of organisations being unselfish with their approaches to customers. Some particularly pertient messages (as highlighted by the Silicon Beach storify page)
- “Successful people will be the ones who learn to collaborate”
- “Learn from failure, embrace it” (gore-tex celebrate failure with Champagne!)
- “Good enough, is *not* good enough. Deliver an insane amount of value”
- “Be brave, fight like hell. Never stop!”
After a life re-evaluation, Alan changed gears and created a book and project “no straight lines“. Alan has a powerful objective for us to strive for a more “human centric” world and presents his thinking behind this. Alan provides some examples of his thinking when we as humans become a part of the organisational process and how this can be done effectively and also how this can be handled badly (typically when done with a traditional corporate agenda).
Nick is founder of Albion, a growing creative agency in Shoreditch, London. Nick shared details of some of Albion’s projects and their lean processes. He also highlighted the ever increasing volume of “digital litter”, the fake engagement driven by pointless campaigns. This was a theme highlighted at last year’s Silicon Beach by Tim Malbon of Made By Many (who referred to it as “landfill marketing”). Nick shared some details of their entertaining campaign for GiffGaff: “unlock a phone, unlock a chicken”
Nick’s talk was motivating and further encouraged me to think about meaningful marketing which is something I’m keen to apply at Moov2. I did however take issue with his insinuation that posh people like to buy chickens… I may have picked up three chickens for home just the previous week! 😛
Steve was last up for the day and provided a very thought invoking and entertaining presentation to conclude proceedings. Starting his talk with a minute of intentionally awkward silence, highlighting how being busy is used as “a boast disguised as a complaint” and encouraging everyone to literally stop and breathe for a moment. Steve presented a strong case against being too busy and where we’re at with our priorities. He shared a number of meaningful quotes and gave an important message with a light hearted delivery, his own thoughts and experiences demonstrated his understanding of what he was saying and gave us all something to think about. Definitely something I will be being more mindful of and a message that can be applied to both professional and personal life.
Phew, that was a lot of content to cover, I didn’t realise until writing this summary just how much content was on offer over the two days. Needless to say I enjoyed the event and am very much looking forwards to next year.
If I’ve confused any of the details above or if you just want to comment on it give me a shout on Twitter.