Post Of The Month - August 2015 - The Vote

Thanks for the nominations. So our vote this month is between:

Energy Beats Talent by Nils Leonard

Advertisers Want Your Attention by Faris Yakob

You Can't Fix Services With Engagement by Russell Davies

3D Experiences by Gareth Kay

Ways to Think About Cars by Ben Evans

Projects and Companies from Sam Altman

And you can vote below:

Post Of The Month - August 2015 - Nominations


Early in the new month means it's time to open nominations for Post of the Month. If there's a great post that you've read over the past month and would like to put forward, please do so directly or in the comments to this post. As always I have a short starting list but please do add to these and I'll stick them all up for a vote. OK, my starting are:

Energy Beats Talent by Nils Leonard

Advertisers Want Your Attention by Faris Yakob

You Can't Fix Services With Engagement by Russell Davies

3D Experiences by Gareth Kay

And you can nominate your own favourites below.

Google Firestarters 17 - Content Marketing & Complexity


There can be little doubt that Content Marketing has become a huge area of focus for clients of late. In the work that I've done over the past few years it's been evident that many clients have increased not just the time and attention that they give to content, but also the resourcing. Unsurprisingly, agencies of all types have followed suit and developed more sophisticated content-driven offerings.

Yet with everyone doing it, are we in danger of becoming awash with content? Is quantity trumping quality? Sturgeon’s Law cites that 90% of everything is crap - how do we stop that applying to advertising and content?

For our latest Google Firestarters we'll be considering content, complexity and everything in between with two of the most compelling speakers in advertising and content marketing. 

Dave Trott needs no introduction but is of-course the renowned Creative Director, Campaign columnist and the author of series of books on creativity and advertising including Creative Mischief; Predatory Thinking; and most recently, One Plus One Equals Three: A Masterclass in Creative Thinking. After starting his career at BMP Dave founded a number of agencies including GGT, Bainsfair Sharkey Trott and The Gate and is responsible for some of the most memorable campaigns of the last 30 years.

Doug Kessler is probably the best speaker I've ever seen on Content Marketing. He's described on his site as a displaced Yank who started his career at Ogilvy & Mather, New York. Soap and fabric softener bored him rigid so he jumped ship to specialise in B2B and is now a content marketing junkie running content agency Velocity Partners working with clients like Cisco and Kimberley Clark. 

Firestarters will be happening at 6.00pm on Wednesday 16th September at Google HQ in London. As always I have some free guest passes to give away to readers of this blog so if you'd like one, message me direct or leave a comment below.

Is the Life Expectancy of Companies Really Shrinking?


There is a prevailing narrative that the life expectancy of large companies, faced with the challenges of technological disruption, has been reducing for some time. Work done (PDF) by Professor Richard Foster of Yale University (above, and which I talked about here) in particular, seems to show that the average lifespan of a company in the S&P 500 index has decreased from 61 years in 1958 to just 18 years today, a run rate that would mean that by 2027, more than three-quarters of the S&P 500 will be companies that we have not yet heard of. 

Yet perhaps the picture is actually more nuanced. This analysis by Boston Consulting Group looking at the patterns of entry, growth, and exit for 35,000 publicly listed companies in the US since 1950 shows that over the long-term company lifespans have indeed decreased, yet in the recent past they have plateaued and may have actually slightly increased. Whilst human lifespans have increased markedly since 1950, say BCG, company life expectancy has almost halved:


This is also reflected in the five year company mortality risk (which, for public companies traded in the US, is now at 32% compared with a 5% risk 50 years ago):


But as Bloomberg point out, the data incorporates not just bankruptcy and liquidation but also merger and acquisition, and shows that whilst there was a dramatic decrease in corporate lifespan (and increase in mortality risk) during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s this has, since around the turn of the century, actually stabilised. What's more, analysis of the annual rate of turnover in the Fortune 500 by the Kauffman Foundation appears to support this picture - whilst the long-term trend line is up, the recent short-term one is down:


It's difficult to navigate through all the myriad factors to identify what might really be behind this picture, but perhaps the real story is less about the impending death of large businesses and more about their need to adapt - to move through business and product life cycles more quickly than before, to be more focused on systematic experimentation and organising swiftly around opportunity.

Performance Firestarters 9: The Power of Feeds


For the ninth in our series of Firestarters events for the Performance Marketing community will be focusing on Feeds and APIs, which are changing the advertising landscape in a unique and potentially powerfully way. As well as talking about how the smartest agencies are using feed data to improve campaign results and bring new levels of contextual relevance to messaging, we'll also thinking about the future and where the application of this kind of data might lead us, including how AI and machine learning might be used to adapt approaches to marketing. So plenty of interesting stuff to talk about, and to help us we have three excellent expert speakers: 

  • Alistair Dent, Head of Product Strategy at iProspect (the UK's largest performance agency)
  • Visar Shabi, CTO at Brainlabs digital, the 'scientific' PPC agency
  • Kris Tait, business director for Croud, one of Google's fastest growing Search agency

The event takes place on September 2nd, 6.00pm at Google Central St Giles, London. I have some free passes to give away to readers of this blog so if you'd like one, message me direct or leave a comment below.