#MediaSnack Meets

31 - Tom Goodwin, Author 'Digital Darwinism'

April 24, 2019 Season 1 Episode 31
#MediaSnack Meets
31 - Tom Goodwin, Author 'Digital Darwinism'
Chapters
#MediaSnack Meets
31 - Tom Goodwin, Author 'Digital Darwinism'
Apr 24, 2019 Season 1 Episode 31
ID Comms
Interview with Tom Goodwin, Author of 'Digital Darwinism - Episode 31
Show Notes Transcript

"I think we massively overcomplicate things and I don't actually think we need that much data"

Tom Goodwin, author of 'Digital Darwinism', on this latest episode of #MediaSnack Meets

Is relevance more important than personalization?

Are agencies managing decline?

And what exactly is the 'Interim of Things'?

Some of the areas we explore in this fascinating interview with one of the industry's most relentless and provocative thinkers.

Tom gives his tips for marketers hoping to manage change for the year ahead, and we also learn where one of the industry's most inspiring thinkers goes to for his own inspiration. Spoiler, it is not Forbes. 


#MediaSnack Meets


Episode Links:

Tom Goodwin Twitter

Tom Goodwin LinkedIn

Zenith Media

'Digital Darwinism' by Tom Goodwin

Rory Sutherland Twitter

Scott Galloway Twitter

Maria Konnikova Twitter

Derek Thompson Twitter

Seth Godin Twitter

Faris Yakob Twitter


Tom Denford:
0:03
Hello everyone. I'm Tom Denford, co-founder of ID Comms. Welcome to episode 31 of #MediaSnack Meets recorded each month in New York. We get to meet the individuals and organizations doing great work to inspire success and drive change within the global media and marketing industry. In each episode we find out what is behind that success, what it takes to make change in the industry, and what the rest of us can learn from that experience. My guest for this episode is Tom Goodwin, the author, provocateur and award-winning voice in marketing and innovation. By day you can find Tom working at the Publicis Groupe, media agency, Zenith Media, where he is head of innovation based here in New York. Otherwise, he's likely to be en route to delivering a keynote address at one of the leading marketing conferences around the world. Tom calls himself "a pain in the ass with good intentions", which is his humble way of acknowledging that he is certainly one of the industry's most prolific and articulate thinkers. For example, if you follow him on Twitter and you should, you will witness an incessant stream of humorous observation, startling lateral thinking and tons of simply good ideas written succinctly and unpretentiously. I have always enjoyed time with Tom for being one of the most skilled talkers I know and therefore he makes a wonderful podcast guest. Tom has the ability to talk as if he's reading aloud with a calm, consistent rhythm that allows his ideas space to form as he speaking them, and it's a remarkable skill that I hope you enjoy in this interview. In 2018 he published his first book, 'Digital Darwinism', which explores how businesses are coping with transformation in a digital age to be better companies. It has also been scientifically proven that Tom has the best hair on the internet, which I think he has already registered as a trademark. In this episode, we discuss how we should be radically simplifying digital marketing, where does Tom get his inspiration from? What happened when he recently interviewed Seth Godin and what is his advice for marketers for the year ahead? You can check the show notes for this episode at www.mediasnackpodcast.com including a full transcript and links to resources that Tom recommends that you read. But without further delay, please enjoy this entertaining and mind broadening interview with Tom Goodwin.
Tom Denford:
2:28
Tom, welcome to MediaSnack Meets.
Tom Goodwin:
2:29
Thanks for having me on the show.
Tom Denford:
2:31
We've been trying to get together for a little while. Some listeners might recall, I might have mentioned this on MediaSnack before, is that we, I think we did record a show two years ago in London and you had a really bad cold. Then we completely cocked up on the audio recording and we never managed to put it out and we've been trying to schedule it ever since I think.
Tom Goodwin:
2:50
It's going to be good to come back and emulate some of that success from before the session.
Tom Denford:
2:55
That was pre-book I think. I think you were still writing.
Tom Goodwin:
2:58
I think it was I the ideas of the book in my head and I think you asked me about it and I didn't do a very good job of explaining it. So maybe today I'll be better I'm not sure.
Tom Denford:
3:06
So we'll come on to that, I want to talk about the book because it's been out a year or so, but that's done phenomenally well and it's really interesting and now you're flying all over the world talking about that and other things, which is keeping you very busy. As I've explained in the intro, apart from being a successful marketing book writer, which is not an easy thing to have achieved, you work at Zenith Media based here in New York, hence the accent, as EVP Innovation. Is that right?
Tom Goodwin:
3:32
You're sort of frowning as you're asking the question so I know that you're gonna ask me what that means. Yes, it's worth noting that this is a word that gets used a lot and it has absolutely no defined meaning in a way that really connects with people. I think often it's the kind of spirit, if anything, it's become sort of synonymous with this need to demonstrate to the world that somehow you get 'change' and that somehow technology is making a profound difference and it's become a sort of experimental unit that is kind of bolted onto the side of agencies or clients. My take on it is actually that's the wrong way to go about it and to treat it as this kind of garnish or this kind of Double Art on Friday afternoons of the calendar is massively inappropriate. Actually we need to take it much more seriously, but that's extremely difficult to do. So I think part of my role is to try and elevate the kind of conversations that we have and move up to more senior clients and get people to take this as much more of a sort of existential threat or profound opportunity. More than being an opportunity to give a startup $25,000 and get your name in Tech Crunch.
Tom Denford:
4:42
What does it mean to you though? Innovation is, again it's one of these really horrible cliched overexposed and badly understood words but that's what you do though, you're out there. What's the purpose of that? Trying to just get people to open their minds to think a little bit differently? Is there a structure to that? Is it really, is it a creative feel it, freeform thing or is there a framework of innovation that you can really follow?
Tom Goodwin:
5:13
I think when you look at different types of change that happen within businesses and happened within design processes, most changes are quite incremental. So they kind of follow quite linear patterns and they involve lots and lots of established ways of thinkings like an evolutionary funnel where things improve towards the sort of common goal. And I think there are periods in a design process where you see this leap of faith and you see this kind of jump across to a totally different way of thinking about things or a totally different way to solve the same problem. That for me is innovation. Like for me it's about getting different types of people and different types of thinking and thinking about technology in new ways and then having a complete step change in the way that you go about that. You know, our industry is kind of obsessed with the sort of current paradigm of CPMs and measurements on spreadsheets and optimization. To some extent everything I do is almost the antithesis of that stuff. So it is actually saying that we can't measure how successful this is or that this does involve huge amounts of genuine risks or that this has never been done before so there is no case study. So in a way, this spirit of what I do and what actually I do about getting people to be very open minded to radically different ways to, to do our jobs, that's quite difficult.
Tom Denford:
6:33
Yeah. There's the work that you do at Zenith Media, right? So I mean most listeners will know that is one of the world's largest big media agency networks and then you've got the book and you've got your platform or your audience, community, whatever you call it, where you have a voice and you talk about these things and lots of them, those aren't related necessarily to Zenith Media and you're out there talking, you get hired to travel around the world and deliver speeches to inspire people around. Is that around innovation? Do feel that that's your thing?
Tom Goodwin:
7:02
Yeah, the role that I do in the broader world that's less attached to Zenith is much more about a wider aperture on innovation, and more general business changes and marketing changes and retail changes and it's looking further ahead into the future. So the kind of conversations that I might have as part of that environment are things like the future of mobility or what should cities become or how does governance change in the future?When I'm thinking more about my role at Zenith it's much more about what is the meaning of that and what does it mean for our client's businesses? I'm quite lucky to have different relationships with our clients through Zenith. So the kind of conversations I'm normally having and the people that I'm speaking to are not there because of my incredible knowledge about CPMs or DSPs or CRM platforms or tech stacks. Cause I don't really understand any of that. I'm there to try and bridge the broader changing world and what that means for these people's roles. Often those people are CMOs or strategic planners more than they are media people. But there's no sort of tension there between them. I mean what I learned from being on planes and shopping malls and talking to interesting people at conferences, is very much material that then can get synthesized into my more everyday job.
:
8:32
As you are saying that I'm just thinking this podcast is not going to open up a new audience for you. Most people that listen to this will be familiar with you or something that you've written maybe that you've done. People kind of know what Tom Goodwin is. I think the first thing I want to talk about is a lot of listeners will have been to conferences heard either you talk or people let you talk and it's energizing and motivating and fun and it's good stories to tell. It's a shared moment like a really great speaker. You get back to your desk on the next Monday morning and it's the same thing. So how do you bridge that delta I think you call it, between inspiring people from a stage and then actually engendering some kind of change in the business.
Tom Goodwin:
9:17
It's a very difficult thing to do. I'm aware as I do this more that it's not getting any easier. So if anything I've done a better job of coming to terms with the reality of the frustration. It's just hard. I think there's an interesting point of kind of generations I think where by definition, and this is something I posted on LinkedIn the other day, by definition, when you become sufficiently important that your voice is heard and perhaps you have a budget and that people will listen to you and follow the path that you set, by definition you are probably quite old and by quite old, I'm deliberately being vague, but you're probably at an age where you start having kids and you probably own a house. And then the moment that you have those fixed costs and those risks in your life, you also then have much less to gain because actually at that point you start managing the decline of your career more than the ascent. I think there's a sort of cruel irony really, and the fact that the people that do come to conferences and sort of clap the most loudly and enthusiastically come up to the end and say that, you know, you are correct or that you're wrong or something. Those normally are people that are probably three or four levels below the point where these decisions really get made. So it'll be interesting to see what happens when these people get older. Like will they just age into conservatism will they realize that actually they are a product of an age where there was huge amounts of disruption and where small companies can come from nowhere to challenge big ones and maybe they'll keep that spirit alive. But it's gonna take a little bit of time.
:
10:48
Media agencies have been run by the same handful of white, middle class British or American men for the last 15, 20 years. And that just hasn't really changed and is changing a little bit in the last few years. We've seen some of the turnover of that. When you get to that level, I think that's your point is that you, you're motivated to protect the status quo.
Tom Goodwin:
11:07
It doesn't mean that these people are evil or that they're stupid. It means that they're acting in their own interests and the interests of what's actually the mandate that they've been given from above. And generally speaking, our industry holistically exists in a sort of manage decline as well where generally speaking, it's about managing costs to ensure profitability is maintained rather than managing investments to make sure that growth is maintained. Um, so that does create quite a difficult scenario. Uh, like I'm definitely aware that the most common thing that people say to me after my presentations is, well, it was great, but he didn't really tell me anything new. You just all connected the dots in a different way and you would just sort of saying what we all think. But we're a bit afraid to say and I find that interesting because it is completely right and it's slightly offensive in its correctness um, but it makes me realize the thing that I have going for me, which is different to other people is actually I do have a degree of fearlessness and actually that kind of comes from the way I was brought up. And it also comes from the fact that actually if I did lose my job tomorrow, in like the worst case scenario is still kind of fine. Like there's no kids that are going to get thrown out of school and there's no houses that are going to be taken away from me. And I think it's worth remembering that what has been useful to me has been fearlessness and that perhaps that should be a characteristic that we look for in people that work around us as well.
:
12:28
Yep. We've discussed on previous shows, we have this thing where we hire clearly, you've just immediately qualified yourself for. In every single job brief are the words 'fearless not reckless'. Now, I don't like reckless people because they get you into trouble and they say things and not supposed to and they over promise and under deliver. But I think it's a really, really good to have a fearless challenge of authority to be grounded enough to be able to stand your ground with the CEO and make a case. I love that.
Tom Goodwin:
12:56
I think in intentions are very important to me. I can't remember if it's still in my Twitter bio, but at one point I called myself "a pain in the ass with good intentions" and it's important, like there's a big difference between trolling, um, where you're being inflammatory to try and get people to notice you because you want attention, um, and being quite punchy and provocative because you are actually staying, trying to start a debate or to listen from other people that know more. Um, or to get people talking about something that we should talk about. And I think, um, it would be great if we could do a better job of realizing that often people that are quite difficult and challenging and are strong minded if their intentions are actually purely good and there's a good chance so they will be, and that's a very useful force. But it's something that people have to kind of manage somehow.
:
13:44
What do you think is going on in the in media agency world? Are agencies innovating? Is there innovation in media agencies, are they stagnating? You know, we went down a rather dark path for a moment talking about they're managing a decline and this kind of stuff which I think is understood.
Tom Goodwin:
14:01
I didn't mean that to sort of sound depressing. I just think it's, um, it's a good context to understand the sort of reality of the situation. Cause you know, there were very few phone calls where the person's saying, Hey, I'd like to spend more money with you this year and I'd like to be sure that we can give it to you in a way which is more profitable. Um, so we have to be cognizant of the reality. The weird thing I think about the industry environment is we tend to do a lot of mirroring each other. So everyone's kind of in service of each other. So as an agency we feel like we're somewhat intention to our clients, um, vendors, which is a horrible term, but the people that we work with to help invest our client's money feel like they're somehow serving us. And I think that creates quite a, a sort of loop of complicitness in a way where we feel like, who are we to challenge the client structure and who are we to challenge the spreadsheets they fill in? Um, so think we have lots of good explanations for it. I just think that they're not good excuses. And, um, I mean I feel like sometimes I sound like an old person, but I grew up in an environment where as an agency you were paid to be a trusted advisor and the value that we added, um, was to bring in outside opinions and to be fearless in telling the client that their, you know, proverbial baby was ugly. And I think somehow it doesn't feel like that anymore. And I think that's partly the media side and that's partly the modern age and it's partly an overserved market, but it's a very ironic thing because we ended up losing all of our value when we become easier to work with the more complainant. That's when we see the move towards in-housing and, uh, bringing other elements back from the agency. So we've, we've entered this all very ironic spiral. I think the trouble is that the current environment actually works quite well for lots of people as well. So I don't think, um, I mean we're kind of talking about it before, but I don't think most people over the age of forty look at this industry and think this is terrible, there's an easy way to change it and I should be that person to do that. Like instead, you know, TV companies are quite happy with the fact that their viewership is declining cause it means that their media becomes more scarce. It becomes more valuable. Like no one at a big TV companies thinking, how can I provide my stuff over the internet free of charge and then start making money from video based addressable advertising. Cause they know that's such a huge leap of faith and such a big risk that immediately they'd be fired for suggesting such a thing. So we, we, um, we probably, in theory should see this sort of inflection point where the entire industry becomes very digitally oriented and we think about media planning and buying in a totally different way. And we start thinking about words like programmatic in a positive way rather than a negative way. Cause it just means using algorithms to make good decisions.
Tom Denford:
16:48
What do we think about that? You think that's possible? [Mark Ritson is absolutely convinced, I think we even had a bet about it, that the word programmatic was so toxic that it could never ever be recovered and re-positioned.
Tom Goodwin:
17:00
It probably needs a rebranding job. And probably the way to do it is to change the words. I think he's right in terms of the branding of the word programmatic. But he's wrong if he thinks that the notion and the philosophy. Some sort of snazzy company will come out with, I mean addressable is a pretty crappy word. Um, I know they'll probably use AI, they'll just be AI driven advertising and then everyone will think it's the future or something. But yeah, I mean like all of these concepts should be very helpful to us. But somehow we kind of, we shy away from having these conversations because we're worried that people will think that we're saying something different to what we're actually saying. Um, so the entire world of media, I mean, you look at the magazine owners, um, they've done an absolutely terrible job of changing, like they're terrified. The, the abundance of time that we spend on online means that inventory tends to infinity, which means that prices tend to zero and they continue to sort of operate their structures in a way that has digital departments and digital media sales executives. And they, I mean, they do everything that's wrong. I'm a very optimistic person and somehow my tone is quite negative at the moment, but I think we are at this sort of weird period of time that I call the interim of things where we kind of have the business models and the structure and the processes and the culture of the past. And then we've sort of added to that legacy infrastructure, all of this modernity and tech stacks and algorithmic buying, but we've kind of added it to the kind of crumbling foundations of the past and it's probably gonna get a little bit worse for maybe two or three years. And then the whole thing will just start having existential cracks and sort of break quite quickly and we'll suddenly enter a new paradigm where actually, things are better for everyone. So we'll see that we get targeted with ads which are actually more helpful to us and more relevant to us, but they're not personalized because no one really wants personalization. We'll figure out a way that those ads will be worth more so we'll see fewer of them and because they're worth more people will spend more money on production and make sure they're more um, so that they value our attention greater and I think this will end up with lots of virtuous circles, which work really well for everybody. I just think somehow people haven't seen that.
Tom Denford:
19:15
I think that's exactly right. The great test of that is, you know, the marketers saying is this working? Are we selling more stuff? Are we growing share? But figuring out actually what does work and what doesn't work, doing more of that stuff. That sets then all of us that were partying and high fiving over kind of success of VC money coming into adtech thinking that was the future. Greater complexity means greater money for everybody else. No, we just get back to really simple things like what sells shampoo. People will come up with technologies driven by really simple principles exactly as you're talking about. And those are things that marketers are gonna want to buy.
Tom Goodwin:
19:51
I think so. And I think, um, the wonderful thing is I've done quite a lot of thinking about this and I can't see that anyone loses from this. Like I'm actually the interests of publishes the interests of technology companies and platforms and brands and agencies and people like every person on the planet, they're actually very aligned. Um, so there's no logical way why it can't happen. I think somehow the ad tech thing became this thing where everyone felt vulnerable unless they were also making, um, complicated, um, charts with lots of logos and people feel vulnerable if they don't appear to have a process, which seems to be very, very technologically driven and complex. And you feel vulnerable if you don't have somebody that shows 29 different sources of data being smashed together and um, forming some big data sets that you then do snazzy things with. I'm prepared to be completely wrong on this and I'm prepared to seem like an idiot, but I think we massively overcomplicate things and I don't actually think we need that much data. I don't actually think that the technology needs to be that significant. I don't even think we actually need to use as much attribution as we do, because I think most of it is nonsense. The number of times you see these incredibly complex way to establish someone that's quite interested in cars. You know, we'll use location data to scrape through someone's, um, sort of recent Google maps history to find out they'd been to a car dealership. And actually if you just find someone that's been on a car website, like that's the same, just figure it out they went on a car website or if they're watching top gear on Amazon prime, then they'd probably be quite interested in cars. And actually, you know, most people will be buying cars based on brands that have formed opinions over decades in their life. So this idea that somehow we have to get so precise and so surgical about it. I think it's nonsense.
Tom Denford:
21:34
This endless search for personalization, for attribution, for complete accountability. That never actually made sense of course that's not possible. As Bob Hoffman calls it, there's sophisticated surveillance operations not serving anybody at all other than the platforms, and the infrastructure believes that that's what marketers want. Marketers have been demanding it because they've been told that that's what they should demand, its gone around and around in circles. I think that now they're pulling back is my observation, slowly from that, and realizing the need to invest some time in their brands a bit more.
Tom Goodwin:
22:09
I think that is where we're getting to. I mean you would have more exposure to those kind of conversations that I have. My sense is that it's a bit like a kind of movement in architecture like postmodernism where for so long modernism was the kind of trendy new thing and you almost had to sort of build that way otherwise everyone thought you were an idiot because they thought you were just naive and stupid and you hadn't learned about this new technique. Then postmodernism came away and kind of, because people were confident enough in modernism, they are able to sort of, um, subvert it and to sort of retreat back to more traditional principles that actually worked for years. And I think we're seeing the same in the digital landscape, which is why I call it post digital, where for so long if you didn't have a presence on Twitter, people just assume you'd never heard of Twitter. They didn't think that you decided against that they thought you were ignorant. And for so long, if you didn't spend a lot of money on digital media, the assumption was that you were stupid. And I think we saw all of this glancing at each other and making sure that we were doing the same thing collectively. That you felt stupid if he didn't have tons of data and you felt stupid if you weren't doing everything that seemed modern and then now we're getting to the point where people are happy to say no and to say no knowing that they've tried it and knowing that the rest of the industry won't think they're stupid. And I think that could be a movement that sort of gathers momentum. But there's this sort of vulnerability and simplicity as well as as an agency I think we feel quite scared if we just make it seem like it's not that complex. You know we have to stick in 25 different charts to show our strategic planning approach cause you feel like that's what people spend money on. But actually I just think being confident enough and empathetic enough and understanding people enough, people can buy that. It's just quite hard to demonstrate that with charts.
Tom Denford:
23:53
I really liked "the interim of things". Is that a Goodwin-ism? That has got to be the next book. It's a very nice way of describing kind of where we are, I agree it's just going to last a couple of years as the system almost purges itself of all of this complexity and we get back to actually listening to what marketers want and then build around that.
Tom Goodwin:
24:14
It's happened with every single technology that's ever existed. So steam engines were first used to pull up water to drive water wheels. And the first electrical motors we used to sort of replace steam engines in quite stupid ways. It's quite normal to go through this period where no one's really figured it out. And then we reconstruct for the new age. It just takes us quite a long time.
Tom Denford:
24:34
So let's just talk about you for a second. So you did the book. So for those that haven't read Digital Darwinism, so that was about a year and a bit ago.
Tom Goodwin:
24:43
It's all about change in the world and change that matters, like there's lots of people that go around saying 5G, internet of things, AI, image recognition, deep learning, blah blah blah. And it's almost like their job is to try and get us confused about stuff. And while I tried to do is a very sensible, logical take on the changes that we should really be thinking about, uh, the ones that we shouldn't be thinking about and how companies can really do that. It's looking at sort of the notion of disruption, and I hate that word, but looking at companies that should've changed it didn't, is looking at companies that did change and how they changed. And so it's still designed to be a sort of manual to help people at all levels in business think about technology in a way that allows them to change for good.
Tom Denford:
25:23
Following that Darwinism theme, that makes sense then when we start talking about the stuff that we were just talking about, which is we are in a mess, but we'll figure its way out at some point because it's natural selection.
Tom Goodwin:
25:37
I didn't like the title. The publisher gave me the title and then because I couldn't come up with a better one, I had to learn to love it. And increasingly I realize it's not a terrible title, even though it doesn't still feel that remarkable. But this idea that, I mean evolution needs mutations and it kind of needs errors and there kind of needs there to be significant changes that happen. Otherwise you do sort of die. And I think we need to be careful that we don't go around saying every industry is screwed. Cause the reality is that, you know, if you're an airline, like you're probably fine right now. Like, you know, VR is not gonna change the future of your business and just make it easier to bloody change flights for goodness sake. Um, so it's not like everyone needs to be paranoid, but often the people that should be paranoid are not, and often the people that are paranoid shouldn't be. I'd like to think that my book is a useful guide through the degree to which people should be thinking about this and how to think about it. It doesn't involve this whole like death and everything screwed kind of narrative. It just involves a kind of let's be thoughtful and let's take our time and let's figure out the right time to jump on the right technology in the right way and to do everything you do with the kind of relentless focus on the customer / People / consumers because most of the innovation that's done more often than not is really about signaling to each other. Um, which is something I can't stand. So and just doing simple things well often as well.
Tom Denford:
26:59
What's the most interesting or best comment you've heard about the book? Are there moments where you've just thought I'm glad I wrote that?
Tom Goodwin:
27:05
Well you feel very vulnerable when you write a book. Like I mean, I didn't go to school and have lots of people applaud me all day long saying I was clever. So you presumed that you have no right to write a book. And the other people have come up with the same concepts before and that actually you haven't done enough research and you presume that you've made massive errors and that you'll feel like an idiot. And I, I'd never would have written a book if it wasn't for having a publisher that approached me and, and sort of gave me the confidence to do it. So the main thing I've felt is relief that there are not lots of people that have sort of shouted at me saying, I'm an idiot for writing it. Um, people seem to find it quite funny, which is quite flattering. I slagged off management consultants, quite a lot. Like I do have this, um, deep loathing of everything about the entire industry. Um, and I presumed that by being quite, um, mean spirited about consultants and been quite mean-spirited about Clayton Christensen. I thought that'd be a bit of a backlash. I thought they'd just be people that were sort of try and take me down. Um, and I haven't heard that so far. So there will be more of that in the second book.
Tom Denford:
28:16
Have you finished promoting that?
Tom Goodwin:
28:17
It's a weird feeling when you finish your book cause you're obviously supposed to promote it. But I thought maybe this is shit and maybe the more people that buy it, the more stupid I'll seem to be. So I just thought let it sell itself and it sold quite well. Um, and, and now it seems quite strange to promote it. So I'll write a few articles that are based on their principles just cause I think they're quite interesting things to write. Um, and it was never like a huge part of my job. Like it was a kind of weekend and evening thing. Um, so I've always been doing my job. So yeah, at the moment, um, I don't quite know how public this is supposed to be, but I spend most of my time working for Zenith, um, in the US but increasingly I kind of talk about, um, the themes and the trends from Zenith, um, across the world. And I'm doing more work for the Publicis Groupe as well. Um, like there is a realization that our industry does need to change and that people like me are quite good at getting people to think differently. So I'm doing various different things to try and create a culture of change within the group itself. But I think I can't be more specific than that.
Tom Denford:
29:19
I think I know what you're talking about. The businesses has realized that there's a Tom Goodwin in the building and that's quite nice. It could be quite helpful.
Tom Goodwin:
29:25
Slowly, it's a very odd thing where you have, um, everything in the world from most people not knowing you exist and certainly not caring you exist and knowing nothing about you, which is great. But then there are sort of small pockets of people that seem to think that I must walk around sort of signing friends, um, sort of breasts and stuff all day long and get noticed on the street. And that's not really true at all, but there is this weird situation where you can enter a room and sometimes people think that this wonderful thing has happened and I'm this notable sort of quote unquote thought leader that they're lucky to have in the room. And that happens very rarely. Sometimes people just seem quite visually irritated by the fact that I've come to a meeting, which is understandable and I get it. But more often than not, there's this weird thing where most people have not heard of you and you don't know if they should have. Um, and then you can't quite figure out how to behave in that room?
Tom Denford:
30:15
So that's nice. Then you have the opportunity to delight. How do you consume content stuff? So you talk a lot, right? You speak a lot, you write a lot, you are constantly putting things out there and challenging. What is your approach to consuming stuff? Is it completely random or do you have certain go to places?
Tom Goodwin:
30:37
I mean it's basically my Twitter feed and what I like about that is it, it's quite democratic actually Twitter. I think people don't realize that. But if someone writes a really good piece, like it doesn't matter who they are, it certainly doesn't matter what gender they are, despite what people think. It doesn't matter what country they come from. Like obviously if you have followers it means it's more likely to spark in the first place. But I actually think that when something sparks, like if you write something well it'll thrive. Um, so yeah, I spend way too much time on Twitter, just reading random articles, so that's pretty much everything. I have become extremely, um, impatient. So if there's an article that in any way appears to be quite unimaginative and quite cliched, I'll just stop reading it straight away. Um, and I've now learned that there are just certain publications you never have to look at. So anything ever written on Forbes is a complete waste of time. Um, increasingly, uh, sorry about all the media deals that I'm, I'm screwing over by saying this but its just a personal opinion. Um, things like fast company. I think is actually quite a lot of recycled crap anything that's written and appears to be sponsored by a company. Um, complete nonsense. Um, even things like Harvard Business Review actually, like I feel like the quality of that has declined, whereas on the other side, anything that's in the Atlantic appears to be amazing. And there are particular authors, so it's not a surprise, but people like Rory Sutherland or Scott Galloway, uh, people like Derek Thompson, Maria Konnikova, there are people who every time they write something, you feel like you've learned something remarkable and that's worth reading 10,000 other articles. What I love about all of those writers is they tend to sort of bring together ideas from disparate worlds. So they'll be sort of combining a theory from coding with a theory from behavioral science with another theory from architecture or design or something. I think it's that, that altitude of thought, which I find completely compelling and the degree to which are often learning from a peripheral and adjacent industries, which are not our own. Um, it's a kind of world away from the Deloitte Digital piece about how 5G will change everything that goes through the same examples of smart cities and the internet of things and self driving cars. And you know, that piece kind of almost looks like it's written by an AI every time you read it. Um, so I think, um, there, there is a skill to getting people's attention quite early on. And I think it's a, it's a quite a traditional journalism skill of the sort of, uh, the notion of a headline that sucks people in.
Tom Denford:
33:20
So I've just remembered you just sat with the master of that, didn't you Seth Godin?Didn't you just interview him?
Tom Goodwin:
33:26
I got asked to interview him by his publisher, uh, which is quite an interesting experience. Um, he was very media trained. I mean, you kind of felt like you're in a sort of convey about really, um, even though it was just me on it. But I mean he's very, very, very good at articulating thoughts in a condensed way. Um, I mean there's a whole interesting conversation here, which is how do people create content and do thought leadership for the modern age and what should people strive to do to create their own personal brand. And I kind of, I don't really like that whole world, but I think it's interesting to have something novel to say.
Tom Denford:
34:04
I think you are in it, I've said to you before, I think that whether you choose to embrace that or not is a different thing. But what Seth has done, I guess we've learned over the last 10, 15 years is he's saying some really smart common sense things, but presenting them in really nice digestible ways and he's very presentable and articulate and charming or charismatic or something, and that's a thing.
Tom Goodwin:
34:28
That will get you most of the way. Yeah, I mean it's, it's fascinating cause I do quite a lot of events now where I speak at events and I listen to people and also program events. And you realize that the really good speakers are actually not often people that have the most credibility in the field and they're often not people who have had a particularly successful career. Um, so I would never want to listen to a CEO of a fortune 500 company speak. Um, and I think that there's a lot to be said about the skill in communication and the skill in getting people's attention and in particular the skill in the modern age of making points very clearly and quickly because no one really has an attention span.
Tom Denford:
35:11
We're doing really well at that. It's way, way, way, way over. I'm flashing. I should have said this already five times, but you're listening to #MediaSnack Meets, you can go to www.mediasnackpodcast.com to get the full show notes, which we will link to some of the many resources that Tom and many of the writers that Tom's been talking about,
Tom Goodwin:
35:35
Faris Yakob as well as another one. Sorry to interrupt, but Faris is brilliant. And he wrote basically everything that's contemporary today in about 2002 which is quite strange to me.
Tom Denford:
35:44
He's literally committed himself to delivering this message. Right. Isn't he literally like traveling the world?
Tom Goodwin:
35:50
Yeah. He's one of these sort of digital nomad types.
Tom Denford:
35:56
Good for him. So Tom, your advice for marketers. Let's think particularly about media directors, right? You and I know a bunch of those. So dealing with change, if we are in the interim of things and there's lots of change kind of happening, what from your perspective, what's your advice and how to deal with that and what have you seen how people can deal with change in the best way?
Tom Goodwin:
36:15
I think the main thing is to focus on people a lot more. We've become very introspective in this industry. And we tend to focus at technologies or processes. Just look at people. I look at how they're behaving, look at what their expectations are, look at what they would like from us. Um, and focus only really on that. And that means actually saying no to a lot of stuff. Like the reality is that you don't need to have a voice strategy and a VR strategy and an AI strategy and a 5G strategy and an AI strategy, you could just focus doing really simple things well. I mean like we have this thing called a mobile phone and every single person who we're interested in talking to is on it endlessly, um, all the time. And we still haven't found a way to connect with people there. I mean, that's a huge opportunity. Another one is e-commerce. For some reason we think that our jobs are about a spreadsheet like brand awareness or favor ability or um, you know, brand recall, actually we're really in the business of selling stuff and like, you can now buy anything from anywhere on the planet with the touch of your finger. Um, so we can't be afraid to take areas like that and really, really explore the hell out of those as well. Um, so focus on people, focus on doing simple things that matter. Um, focus on your own mission. I think often clients don't really know why they're innovating. Like some clients are doing it because they want to get famous and win at Cannes, some clients are doing it because they want to get famous and get promoted. Some clients are doing it because they think they can get better business results that way. Some people are doing it because they want to look busy. And I think, um, it's important to genuinely know why you're doing it because then you can optimize around those particular sort of criteria. Um, and then I think finally don't get overwhelmed. Um, like there is this, um, pervasive sense that the world is changing faster than ever and that everything we learned before it's nonsense and it's not really true. It's all, I mean pretty much every core principle of advertising if not every single core principle ofadvertising is exactly the same now as it was a hundred years ago. And actually the effect of a sorts of beautiful story that's well told or an experience that feels compelling and emotional and exciting. Like those principles are all the same. We have slightly different ways to do that now. So we can use things like dynamic creative optimization or we can use the programmatic stuff we were talking about before. But the reality is that that's kind of the weeds. I mean, like the most important thing really are the principles that we've always understood before.
Tom Denford:
38:47
Give us some hope then if we look back in 12 months time, if we were sat here again and looking back, what do you, would you hope that's happened in the media industry specifically, which is going through this wrangling kind of crisis at the moment.
Tom Goodwin:
39:02
The context for that hope is that our jobs have never been more important. There's this horrible sense that somehow brands are less important or they're dying and that's just complete nonsense. Brands have never been more powerful and more valuable. And as choice proliferates brands become even more valuable. Um, and the technology that we have makes our jobs much more exciting. Like, if we were an architect and someone invented steel, like that's a pretty good day to be an architect. Um, you know, we, we have all of these amazing new tools and somehow we are not enthusiastic about it. So the thing I would love to see is I would love to see us being more imaginative in how we bring together this stuff in a way that is more helpful to people. Um, you know, the reality is that people need advertising in their life and they need to make decisions they feel more confident about and they need to be told about products that are exciting and different and they need to buy stuff. So we have to stop being sort of defeatist. And I hope we can get to a place where we just start making really great advertising experiences and we start having ads that do not ask you to click to find out more about a type of olive oil and instead let you click to add it to your shopping basket. Um, so I think, I think we'll start to see in the next year some of the green seedlings of a new advertising environment and one which we could call the post-digital age and it is one rooted in more confidence and more, um, persuasion and more premium ness and more consideration for the kind of way that people want to see advertising.
Tom Denford:
40:45
Sounds like a very good solution. Tom Goodwin. Thank you very much.
Tom Goodwin:
40:48
My pleasure. Thank you.
Tom Denford:
40:52
Who would you like to meet on future episodes? Please let us know at www.mediasnackpodcast.com where you will also find previous guests including leading media executives from companies like P&G, L'Oreal and Mars, and many more plus some of the industry's most provocative thought leaders, people like professor Mark Ritson and Gary Vaynerchuk. You can subscribe to get new episodes each week, and if you liked this episode and you think somebody else would, then please do share it. Thank you so much for listening.
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