Tag: agency

Sunday Column (413)

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Friday. Around 2 pm and I am sitting on a train home. I have a half day and enjoying myself. Kind of. Light Up Hassocks awaits me. The yearly highlight of switching on the Christmas lights. I am doing the school pick up, my parents are coming. By time of posting this will all be past. It is nice to take a half day, get some initial work done, then chilling in the afternoon. Particularly at such a gorgeous day like today. It is almost too bright to work. And it is almost December too. And it got bitterly cold later on. Light up Hassocks was nice, the weekend with my parents was nice, so all good. The routine starts again tomorrow.

I summed up my life on Facebook on Friday, I thought I share it here. It sometimes feels that simple:

Ok. Left work early to attend light up Hassocks. Parade and lights and fair ground rides. Kids and parents and wife had a fab time. Feeling ripped off paying two months of pocket money on light sabres but hey, it’s for the greater good and the kids. When parents went to bed I finished off work and now reflecting on the day. Remembering the youngest saying ‘Daddy,I haven’t seen you all week and I don’t remember what you looked like’ (which isn’t true). But sometimes feels like it. And what if (not unlikely) Southern rails had had another 20 min delay on top of what they did. I would have had to have a contingency plan for pick up. I did. I didn’t need it. But I cannot trust Southern.
Doesn’t that sum up my life? Dominated by Southern (yet hey are not accountable or responsible), great friends and a full on life.
Enough for tonight. Weekend. Looking after the loved ones. Time to chill. Moaning over.

Maybe to add, a friend didn’t get home in time because his train was 40 minutes delayed. Life could be so much better without Southern, or with any reliable train service. I know I am going on about train travel but it is just so unreliable.

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Yet the week was kicking off with a media owner event. It was great, yet one thing I noticed (and no, it isn’t criticism): breakfast was from Pret. And so is most day’s breakfast if it is from a media owner or when I go into the office early, or when I have a quick snack for lunch or in between. Where is that obsession of us Brits (and want to be Brits) with Pret coming from? A quid for a decent brew of filter coffee, Apple pay accepted from day one, a sandwich for everybody’s taste, cookies that taste nice, breakfast that seems to cater for everyone and it is convenient too. Not one street corner without a Pret it seems. There is even a vegetarian one. The first one opened in 1986 and they look like a great corporate, with a CEO blog and apprenticeship schemes, organic food without additives, and used to be owned partly by MacDonalds. It’s sister company is Itsu, the up market sushi shop, which can be found most often in close proximity to a Pret. Maybe they need an agency, what a fantastic brand to work on and take to the next level. The love for standard good food seems to align us – the nation – in Pret 🙂 And I love the salmon and egg baguette for breakfast, unless I have a hungover and prefer their sausage muffins….yes, I am obsessed too 🙂

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Another phenomenon that kicked off this week seemed to be around programmatic. A few people keenly voiced their opinion on programmatic being overrated. I have said that before. Where are we with programmatic advertising? I did present that to a client too. Back in the days we were keen on having real time bidding (RTB) to make impression by impression decision making in real time via a bidder. Nowadays, we execute that and a lot more all from one single line item, highly targeted and across multiple channels. Whether that is real time or not, it is programmatic, it is traded in a programmable fashion. So what does that mean? The whole industry gets automated, and we call it programmatic – for some companies a great chance to be ‘specialists’ and to hide margins, for others it is just another acronym that confuses their clients. As a friend on Linkedin wrote this week: the bottom line is whether we answer the question what value we add to the client. And of course, this is a ‘yes we do’ or ‘no we don’t’. Yet the main differentiator is not whether we execute programmatic, but whether we know how to navigate the ecosystem, understand limitations of ‘make or buy’ and use data in a clever way to our clients’ advantage. That paired with excellent planning makes a good agency (and a few other ingredients). But this wasn’t supposed to be a sales pitch, yet my astonishment of how advertisers just cannot understand my part of the industry. So feel free to look up my Linkedin article on AI – take it with a pinch of salt – but aren’t we falling into a big trap of complicating things? And that is why some programmatic consultants still get paid a high day rate without being questioned. As you can clearly see, I am settling in well in agency land. It is time to get closer to clients and make them understand what adtech is all about!

Another theme, a red line throughout my conversations with some mentors and friends this week, suggests that there is more out there to which people and companies aspire to or should at least. As I reviewed my productivity book this week, where I am addressing those situations, I am wondering how to best help. How to best move things along vs. moving things up, vs. making the first move to take massive actions. Where I am leading with that isn’t quite obvious. I guess it is about doing your daily job and thinking beyond and taking over responsibility and accountability (spot a theme, Southern?). To perform beyond your duty and to use what’s in between your ears: no not your hair, your brain! To do what we preach and suggest to our kids. I see that across people and then across organisations. One changes the other, pushing the next. By being able to be consciously aware of what is actually happening around you, what happens in life, and how it is portrayed to you, how you portray things on the outside too. Exciting mind games, great discussions are fuelled on the back of these discussions I had this week. And it is exciting and it makes me grow and want more. I hope my book will reflect that too. And the more people I can get on board, the more exciting it gets for the journey along. It is about my 5 people I spend the most time with, they challenge me, they move me along.

And then there was the guy on the train, after a few beers, who explained to me how he works for a German bank, has an MBA, hates Brexit, worked in Switzerland and wrote a book. Lots of synergies there. We had a good yupp and catch up and I truly enjoyed speaking to him. These are those above random conversations that push you over, take over your thoughts and influence you. I might never meet the chap again, or maybe I will. But he would agree with all of the above and how you need to look in and take it beyond, and it all will fall into place eventually.

Enough of a brain-drain this week. Hope it was useful and sparked some thoughts.

Best wishes,
Volker

Sunday Column (400)

400 Sunday Columns. Wow. That’s 400 weeks, just about….seven and a half years. Well done me!

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Holidays. Yes, we spent a week in Centre Parks, Elveden Forest, last week. It was great. I have always been a bit sceptical of holiday parks. Yet I was very positively surprised. Given you can book a week, we had essentially four full days of fun, activities and (family) togetherness. And not too far to drive either. Maybe when the boys are older we consider a bigger accommodation or we might stay longer, but a mid week break with lots of activities was just right given their age. A run in the forest most mornings, some wine at night, take aways, good (?) and too much food, swimming, going down a cyclone (check out cyclone video: https://youtu.be/yggVvOid7TI, it scared Colin and me. Both of us luckily did not know what we got ourselves into), lots of water plays, hot tubs, wave pool etc. Then bowling, owls, play parks, cycling, pony riding, adventure golf and the list goes on. Fun. Utterly enjoyed a week off and away. Spending quality time with the family.

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For many years I have not been a big fan of holidays to be honest. I am quite content sitting at home doing nothing. I did that this year already whilst the wife had the boys in Scotland. And as the boys are getting older it is nice to go out and do things. Even though they fell to bed totally exhausted most nights. But that is how it should be. Wireless throughout helped to stay connected, yet I tried to stay away from social media as much as I could. However, being able to follow the news was nice or not so nice given the earthquake in Italy. I pray for my friends and families who hopefully are fine. I start to enjoy going away and experience things with the family and find new relaxation in doing so. It is nice and great to see the kids engaging in new environments and exploring new things. I believe it is good for them, and me, and the wife of course too. Centre Parks even offers baby sitters so we had a date night too. Result! Only things that lets it down is the quality of food eating out. Yet the spa visit whilst the kids joined a Pirates’ party was amazing. We even consider rebooking for next year already 🙂 Maybe a different park though.

Above are the highlights of the week. I am mentally preparing for a new challenge, a new start of my career. If I say start, it is more of a new beginning. Already, I feel like this is the right move and things will be great. They will be different but I can make a positive change and move my career in the right direction. And, it will be a lot of fun, and hard work. Latter is what I enjoy a lot, so it is all good I think. Given tomorrow’s bank holiday, I look forward to a new start on Tuesday.

There is little else happening in my world at the moment. I am exploring options for diagrams for my new book, e.g. to outsource the drawings. Then there is still a lot of editing to be done which I hope to get done by end of year before publishing it next year – maybe. Time is the main challenge, as I have a few projects on the go at the moment. The other one is to see which or if I can get myself a toy for my 40th birthday next year. When I say toy I am thinking Porsche, Jaguar, Alpha Romeo, Audi….but to be honest I am not sure how much I have to spend and how much I want to spend for something I do not need, but I do want. Not sure if my common sense prevails over my appetite to own and enjoy. A fine balance to strike, and still a lot of money to earn, which then puts things into perspective I suppose. Maybe we postpone to my 45th….

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What is life all about? Fun, family and memories? Ownership and wealth? Creation and making a difference? I don’t think life is as black and white and I also think it is a combination of above. As a Buddhist it is definitely not about ownership, but about fun and enjoyment. Little attachment, lots of fun, as far as I am concerned. If you realise that, you can own too. Maybe a loop hole but there is no reason to not owning nice things as long as you are not attached to them and they are the only thing you care about. Health is sitting on top of all of this, and you cannot buy health. And if health isn’t great, you end up cutting your life short, excluding most of the above, no? It helps to drill on that every now and then and put life into perspective. And value one’s holidays. To allow the odd indulgence and enjoy life – not excessively but consciously, not knowing when it will end. Yet we must assume it won’t end anytime soon, else we will not be able to enjoy it as much. And this week we enjoyed ourselves a lot!

I hope to look back on life in a few years time or hopefully many years from now and I might even look at my blog and read this – and I’d like to think that most of my decisions and thoughts were right. And that we made the right choices for our little men and pushed them into a happy, content life! It is a balance what you say to them, what you explain to them and how. They suck up your explanations like a sponge and don’t question it at all. Dangerous sometimes.

To finish….I had a dream a while back. I was breaking into a bank and was with two friends. One of which I remember. And we stole some gold bars or tried to anyway, and got caught. Instead of going to jail we were told that we will find out in a few weeks time what would happen. So we went home. Whilst on holidays the dream came back to me. This time being anxious that I haven’t heard and they hadn’t been in touch. I was hoping work wouldn’t find out about me having broken into a bank and trying to steal gold. No, I didn’t think of nor executed breaking into a bank. But maybe that dream tells me something. About waiting for the gold to come to you and not chasing it? Of being patient and seeing the gold in front of you rather than stealing it? Or maybe it was about letting go of ownership and chasing the dream with a friend? Maybe it was just a weird dream. Any ideas?

Have a great bank holiday. Spend it with the people you love and cherish. Share your love and gold and avoid short cuts. Life is good and you should appreciate it when it is there. Don’t live the future dream, enjoy the now.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world,
Volker