Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Beauty in numbers

I was reminded today of a site that I really like, it’s called Information is Beautiful and the I like it for many reasons but predominantly for its simplicity. How brilliant to take what is often a whole load of complicated data and turn into something so accessible. And it’s not necessarily about having loads of data but instead taking a concept and using a relevant analogy to explain it in its simplest form.

With the rapidly changing digital landscape there are often times when we need to explain concepts to clients in their simplest form. We are already developing various dashboards for our clients that help to simplify the huge amount of data we collect from campaigns to make them easily digestible. They're also easily shareable, which is important for clients to present to their seniors who perhaps don’t have time to sit down and trawl through reams of data.

I think it would make a big difference if we applied more simplicity and creativity to our outward facing work. Admittedly a lot of the back end work requires spreadsheets and charts but when it comes to presenting to those that matter why should they have to endure these charts too?

Yes a lot of the time we don’t have the time to produce charts that are made in anything but excel and PowerPoint but if cretivity was the norm and there were templates set up for producing this work then time wouldn’t be a problem.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a client and your product is fairly low interest and DR focussed (financial services, health care etc). Your main focus for any results meeting is to be shown what’s working, what isn’t working, what’s being fixed and what’s in store for the future?
Perfectly reasonable requests, the answers to which would require a lot of numbers and cross referencing graphs and overly populated scales that are difficult to read etc.

Using IIB as an inspiration, how could we look to change this? You might have to start with something that’s recognisable on the first look but upon closer inspection proves to be much more in-depth and detailed such as this Digital Distraction Chart:

Chart found here

And then at a more advanced level you could have an interactive chart that clients could take away and explore in their own time such as this:

Chart found here

To be honest we’re nearly there with some of our dashboards and clients love nothing more than being able to see exactly how their results stack up against their competitors, especially if these results were huge towering trees overshadowing little saplings or piles of notes stacked next to a small stack of coins.

Generally I think clients are fairly content with the way results are delivered but I also think this is because they know no alternative.

This can change, as the bottom line is: Data doesn’t need to be dull, accurate yes, dull no.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Guiding Lights...

What with all the election business that’s been going on I got thinking about the essence of leadership and the principles upon which it is (should be) founded. I then thought about what can have an effect on these principles and how they are perceived by different people depending on their needs and interests and how huge decisions can sometimes be made on small amounts of information.

This thought led me on to thinking about behavioural economics in general and how brands act, and how we, as consumers, react to them.

Ultimately the three main factors that dictate behaviour are PERSONAL, SOCIAL and ENVIRONMENTAL.

From these pillars we can derive some more detailed principles that affect the way we react to and engage with brands which should stand true even in the face of technological advancement.

Before we talk about these principles it’s important to remember that for many brands the AIDA Model (attention, interest desire, action) is being increasingly questioned and a ‘Value–Action’ gap exists where people hold values that are inconsistent with their behaviour.
This theory is known as cognitive dissonance (e.g. Smokers know smoking is bad for them but seek to justify their cognitive dissonance - “I know a bloke who smoked 50 a day and lived to be 100”).

Below I’ve discussed nine principles based on theory from the myriad books on the subject (Nudge, Predictably Irrational, Paradox of Choice etc) and the planners meetings/debates we’ve had over here at PHD HQ.

1) Choices are influenced by how they are framed

• Quite simply if you are aware of the context of the decision you’re about to make and it will change that context positively then you will be more inclined to make the decision.
• The bottom line is that it’s virtually impossible to present a neutral choice to a human being.

2) We believe things that we can easily imagine are more likely to happen

• Despite statistics and facts that suggest otherwise, the more tangible is often overlooked for the more fantastic if we believe in it enough. This might explain why people take out “earthquake insurance” and have a greater fear of plane crashes than car crashes

3) We make decisions based on outcomes that have happened before

• This seems like the most perverse of human foibles but is probably the most common when it comes to decision making. If something has a proven record to produce the results you want then this is an understandable approach however when the chances are 50/50 making a call on previous results makes no logical sense, but probably ‘feels’ right. Might explain why gamblers go on an ‘unlucky streak’

4) We’re loss averse, and ‘over-value’ things we already have

• Having something as oppose to not, makes the object much more valuable. Emotional value far outstrips rational thought as those who have ‘something’ or the prospect of ‘something’, imagine what it will be like whilst those who don’t have it apply rational thoughts to the situation and realise it for what it is.

5) We’re naturally inert & avoid decisions - so ‘default’ options are very powerful

• This is a very influential marketing technique when used properly. Thankfully there are systems and checks in place which mean you are far more likely to be given the choice to ‘opt-in’ rather than ‘opt-out’ however in cases such as organ donation, would people actively choose to ‘opt-out’?

6) The more we repeat an action the more automatic it becomes

• Habitual behaviour is one of the most difficult aspects of behaviour to change.

• Campaigns such as drink aware and anti-smoking have to be hard hitting as they show the consequences of individuals actions. The message needs to make consumers not only realise what they’re doing isn’t healthy but that there is an alternative and a way out.

• The more hard hitting the ad the more likely they are to be talked about which then generates community spirit and camaraderie between fellow smokers/drinkers to make a change.

7) Personal empowerment is vital for behaviour change

• Knowing or at least feeling that your actions make a difference can make individuals and consequently groups take action

• Known as “Self Efficacy” - a belief I can do it, is more important than an ability to actually do something in changing behaviour, hence why things like Act on CO2 place great focus on what can be done by the individual.

8) ‘Social proof’ wields huge influence

• When food comes out at a party who dares to tuck in first? And when on a Just Giving page we look at how much others have donated and follow suit.

• The steps Facebook is taking with regards making nearly everything ‘likeable’ mean that social proof by association is becoming increasingly prevalent which will greatly change this behaviour

9) Enabling people to change their behaviour is key

• We can change attitude and intention around recycling for example but providing recycling boxes is likely to be far more powerful in changing behaviour.

• In other words – make it easy for people to behave in the way you want them to.

Clearly these are varied and numerous principles and cannot be applied to all brands and campaigns, however knowing how human behaviour works on a fundamental level will help to simplify the objectives of campaigns greatly. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in research, surveys and trending graphs and be influenced by a channel choice that perhaps doesn’t 'feel' right but can be corroborated by the 'figures'...

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