Written By , 130 days ago



This article is based on a talk given to the Future Media team at the BBC in May 2014.


In April this year, Charlotte Higgins wrote two essays for the Guardian about the past and future role of the BBC. Early in the first piece, she identified Google and Amazon as the BBC’s true competition.

I’ve spent years observing, spending money with and thinking about these new giants of the digital world. It’s my job to understand how their businesses are shaped and what drives them. And the single biggest thing that Google and Amazon have in common is that they are at heart both driven by data – personal data, which describe the behaviours of individuals.

The collection and management of personal data for commercial ends is the lifeblood of Google and Amazon, yet it plays little part in the BBC’s current working model. Surely this must change if the BBC is to flourish in the newly-digitised world of media?


If the service is free, you’re the product.

50 years ago this was true of ITV. Today it is true for Google’s YouTube and thousands of other digital services that compete to entertain or inform us, selling our ‘eyeballs’ to advertisers to commercialise the free service. No change there, just more competition.

The BBC’s audience is not the product.

The BBC is not a free service, nor (if we ignore BBC Worldwide) is it trying to – or allowed to – sell us things.

To quote Charlotte Higgins: “Unlike Google and Amazon… the BBC brings us ideas of which we have not yet dreamed, in a space free from the hectoring voices of those who would sell us goods”.

This is at the heart of why the BBC has a different relationship with its audience to other broadcast and media organisations.

Could the different motives and mission of the BBC translate into a new strategy for the collection and use of personal data?


Many pundits think we are at a tipping point in attitudes to personal data and how it is collected and used; Snowden’s NSA revelations being a significant catalyst for this change.

But there’s more to this than privacy and security issues. There’s a big fat business bottom-line story too. Your personal data has a value and, at the moment, most of that value is being harvested by those clever enough to work out how to ‘exploit’ and ‘monetize’ what they know (quite legitimately, in most cases) about you.

The ways in which the value of your own data can be reclaimed and controlled by you is the territory mapped out in Doc Searls’ book,The Intention Economy. Here in the UK, the government’s Midata initiative and organisations like Ctrl-Shift are pioneering the development of new structures for Personal Information Management Services (PIMS).


These are the ingredients for a BBC strategy for personal data. What could they cook up?

We think there should be a newly defined contract between the BBC and the individual. We call this the BBC’s ‘New Data Contract’. Here is a first shot at what it might look like;

The BBC’s New Data Contract
1. We will never sell to you.
2. We are 100% secure.
3. We will only use your data when you ask us to.
4. We understand the value of your data.

What could this contract translate into in practice?

Commercial organisations gather data largely through inference. They do not ask for information. This is because our willingness to give information to organisations that are trying to sell us services or products is limited. Why would you tell Google or Amazon more about yourself when doing so will lead to more, intrusive, advertising?

For the BBC, a paid-for service, the rules are different.

The BBC can ask; it has a relationship with its audience that will allow this. The personal data that results could be more valuable as a result.

Imagine a worried parent, whose son is falling behind with their maths at school. “Dear BBC, please help my son Luigi with his maths, he’s 10.” The amazing content and resources of the BBC could be edited – curated – to help Luigi’s studies, in a personal, relevant way.

Answering personal needs, directly expressed, is one way that the New Data Contract could work.

Another is in helping individuals manage their personal data and benefit from its value. This is Intention Economy territory; the BBC as a PIMS suppliers on a large scale.

In this model, there are several ground-shifting possibilities. One is that the licence fee could be replaced by revenues unlocked from the value in individuals’ data. Use the BBC’s personal data management service when you’re in the market for home insurance, and get £50 off the annual licence fee…

Whatever the BBC decides to do, the digitally-driven explosion in data (and data from objects with identities – the Internet of Things – is the next wave) will not be held back.

In order to flourish, the BBC needs a powerful strategy for personal data, and it is in a great, a unique position to create one.

Read more: http://insights.wired.com/profiles/blogs/want-to-reinvent-the-bbc-just-ask-1#ixzz398rAAI9x
Follow us: @Wiredinsights on Twitter | InnovationInsights on Facebook

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Written By , 291 days ago

Michael Wallis was asked to create a poster for Earth Hour, the world’s largest mass participation event yet. Earth Hour is an annual Switch Off that focuses the world’s attention on our planet. Each poster focuses on a particular carbon-reducing action – walk more, eat less red meat, reduce consumption and so on. Michael chose ‘Unplug’ with a Terminator-inspired solution.

Each poster will be distributed to 50m people daily throughout the WWF and Do The Green Thing online community. Other participating designers and artists include:

David Shrigley
Neville Brody
Patrick Cox
Sir Paul Smith
Sir Quentin Blake

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Written By , 343 days ago

Reading the coverage from CES in Las Vegas last week, there seems to be broad agreement that Wearables will be the stand-out tech trend in 2014.

But what genuinely breakthrough products and technology were showcased at CES, and which, if any, might be expected to gain widespread consumer adoption?

1. Lumus DK-40 smartglasses

OK, they could do with some help in the name, but the Lumus glasses – which project a Head-up display (HUD) like Google’s much discussed Glass – killer feature is pin-sharp optics, to transform user experience. They have done this using embedded prisms as part of a coating onto the glass.

Lumus will not be marketing their glasses, they are a showcase for the technology that Lumus hopes to sell to product manufacturers.

The smart glasses category (is it a category yet? Seems to be headed that way) will need this kind of technology innovation to go mainstream, and Lumus could be helping to drive HUD technology in that direction.

2. Intel moves to smart products strategy with Edison

Rather than a single product or technology, Intel’s announcement of a raft of connected, wearable products developments is a marker that the Internet of Things (objects, products, some wearable, that are made ‘smart’ using embedded technology) is going to be a major part of the tech scene for the next few years.

Among the products that Intel trailed at CES:

While none of these is revolutionary in its own right, what makes this a huge story is Intel’s scale and their strategic intent. This isn’t a clever start-up on Kickstarter looking for $30,000…

3. Er, surprisingly little that could be gamechanging

Cnet’s coverage;

The biggest products we’re anticipating in wearable tech — an iWatch, newer Google Glass, a Google watch, and maybe a Microsoft device — aren’t here yet. More importantly, those companies are bound to build services and software that transform wearables as a platform the way the iPhone influenced Android and rewrote the smartphone industry. Once those players emerge, the wearables game will change again…so, for now, it looks like nobody wants to make a bold and foolish splash like the Samsung Galaxy Gear. Things will change once Google, Apple and Microsoft stake claims.

So the headline is that 2014 could well be the year when connected products, including wearables (Notifiiers, Trackers, and Glasses) move from minority Geek usage to smartphone-style mass adoption. But CES was not the show where the battle lines between the main players were drawn.

Our view is that making wearables desirable is a least a big a challenge as the technology, and vital to achieve mass adoption. The recently announced partnership between Tory Burch and Fitbit (TechCrunch story) is an example of this kind of product development as, arguably, is Angela Ahrendts high-profile move from Burberry to Apple.

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Written By , 416 days ago

CW investments #2 – Wearables

Could getting away from screens be a trend?

There’s a dizzying variety of wearables projects on Kickstarter at the moment. Given that the Kickstarter-funded projects are outside the funding of big corporations and venture capital, it’s safe to say we’re all going to be bombarded by clever and useful wearable products over coming years.

Here’s our pick of what we found live (or recently closed) on Kickstarter. Continue Reading …

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Written By , 438 days ago

As part of our mission to help our corporate clients find the right enabling technology to drive brand and product advantage, we recently decided to ‘invest’ in 2-3 Kickstarter projects a month.  Not in the hope of early retirement, but to bring us closer to the businesses that we select, all of which will have a specific relevance to developing trends that we believe are, or could be, significant.

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Written By , 479 days ago

With investment in data reaching impressive scale, there is still not enough of a focus on data-driven creativity and the process needs to be reimagined, argues Corke Wallis’s William Corke.

Data of various kinds have been part of the creative process for marketing for decades. But over the past 10 years, the rising tide of digital data has clearly changed things profoundly for creative agencies and in-house marketing teams alike.

A recent Gartner report predicted CMOs will spend more time and money on IT than CIOs by 2017, as technology and marketing move ever closer. But how can you tell if your agency is keeping up?

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Written By , 574 days ago

Last week we released consumer research revealing that nearly 90% of people in the UK want to take control of the type and timing of the promotional messages they receive.

Our online survey of 300 UK consumers found the overwhelming majority want an alternative to regular targeted promotions. 86% would be interested in a service that enables the requesting of offers for relevant products, in real-time, and almost half (48%) said that the targeted offers they receive at present are not relevant.

The shift in consumer attitudes that will support advances in VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) presents a huge opportunity for businesses that market better, and that properly eliminate waste: to get ahead of the competition by offering a better experience to their customers.

You can read more about the research in our press release.

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Written By , 585 days ago

Today I received an email from Vocus. They were writing to me – via a rented list – to introduce the Vocus offer:

What Vocus (and many others like them) provide is often described as a customer-centric marketing service: they help you understand your potential customers better so that you can tailor offers (and product) to their needs.

Technology development means that the potential for this kind of targeting is going to increase exponentially (as it has been for the past decade).

But is this really customer-centric marketing, or just old-school direct-selling techniques with newer, sharper tools?

For me, customer-centricity has to be about a lot more than targeting. Finding out about people so you can sell them more stuff (whether they need it – or even really want it – or not) cannot truly be described as acting in that individual’s interests.

Here’s the Dictionary.com entry for customer-centric;

Main Entry:  customer-centric
Part of Speech:  adj
Definition:  placing the customer at the center of a company’s marketing effort, focusing
on customers rather than sales

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Written By , 648 days ago

Last year, Burberry opened their new London flagship store in Regent Street.  The store – which takes concepts from website user-experience design and applies them to a real-world retail space – has generated a lot of coverage and buzz, so we visited the store to see what Burberry is up to and what we can learn from it.

Burberry has long pioneered the art of multichannel marketing and selling. The brand has nearly 15m Facebook ‘likes’ and 1.5m Twitter followers. The last few years have seen the introduction of various successful interactive digital concepts, including social-networking site The Art of the Trench and, most recently, live-streaming of the catwalk shows.

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Written By , 706 days ago

Our most recent campaign for Hertz UK went live last week and today has been featured on Adweek as ‘Ad of the Day’. Here’s what Adweek has said about the campaign:

“Fake-product advertising can be irritating, but this campaign, from London agency Corke Wallis, gets everything right. The video is extremely well produced and believable—the retraction demo, in particular, is hypnotizing. And the banner on the website is just so unassuming that you have to smile. Being fooled never felt so good.

Now, can someone work on a real prototype for this, please?”

Big thanks due to our partner Paul Dixon of MoveMakeShake for his vital work on production, direction and CGI effects.

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