Building something with honesty

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I started this blog in the summer of 2014, in the hope to build a place where people would come to be inspired, stirred, provoked and to make people think about many different facets of life. Two years on and over 150 blog posts later I am still here trying to do the same things that I started doing two years ago.

Is this blog an Internet sensation with millions of hits – no! Is it doing as well as I hope it would – probably not. Do I still enjoy what I do and believe in what I do – 100% yes.

Fake it to make it

I could come on here and lie and say it is going great guns, put a spin on it using fancy words or not mention anything about how many people the blog is reaching. To me doing any of that wouldn’t be real and would be lying. So many people sign up to the ‘fake it to make it’ philosophy in life and it makes me sad. What have I got to gain by trying to say this is a blog, which is visited by millions? Everyone with an Internet connection has the possibility of one day stumbling across this blog and I really hope they do, but until they do I am just going to keep writing, keep hoping and keep smiling.

The people who have to talk about their audience and numbers are normally the ones that are disappointed by their numbers, whereas I am proud of the 6 people who read this blog yesterday. Yes 6, I’ll admit it, but I am so thankful that those 6 people did, as thankful as if 6 million people had. Things that have a big following normally don’t need to talk about their audience and people just know.

Not worrying about numbers

I would rather just focus on putting out content that I am happy with and proud of than worrying about writing for numbers. Like on Monday I wrote about the extra day we get every four years, not expecting much response at all and I got 4 likes which blew me away.

I could pay for advertising but I just don’t see paying for an audience as a success. I want people to read what I write and be touched by it. I want to feel great when I see people reading and interacting with my blog, not just think that people only came became because I paid for them to come, where is the success in that?

Foundation blocks

I see every blog post as a foundation block. My house may take 500 blocks to build, it may take 50,000 but what I am going to do is invest time in each one and build each one as strong as the last. My advice to every blogger out there is be proud of the content you produce, as good content is the only thing you can control and the only thing you should need to be proud of.

Never stop writing or blogging because the size of your audience wasn’t what you were hoping it would be. Keep writing because your content is what you hoped it would be.

The slow death of the TV talent show

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This year will see the final series of one of the forerunners of the modern era TV talent shows, as American Idol bows out with it’s 15th series. With declining viewers and declining advertising revenue, not only has the decision been made to end with this final series, but this final series will also be shorter than previous years by 4 weeks.

I remember when TV talent shows were drawing audiences of 15 – 20 million per show. Now it seems like anything between 5 and 7 million is seen as a success. The thing with TV talent shows is that they are all geared around advertising, sponsorship and phone ins. If it wasn’t for these things then the viewing dip wouldn’t be as important, as for some programming 5 – 7 million is a good number. TV talent shows got lots of promotion and the best TV slots because they were cash cows but without the support of the viewers they will soon be cancelled, as the only slots they can exist in is weekend prime time.

Change in consumption

When TV talent shows were at the zenith, smart phones and tablets weren’t in every hand, streaming wasn’t mainstream, youtube wasn’t being used as it is now and Tivo (DVR) wasn’t in nearly every home. TV talent shows rely on us all sitting down to watch the programme live and that isn’t how we consume TV any more.

TV talent shows tried to combat what was happening by focusing the shows more on the soap style storylines rather than the talent in order to get headlines and column inches, which worked in the short time and kept interest up. However the more sensationalist the headlines got, the more the public and the media got jaded by them and the less newsworthy the shows became.

I do have a soft spot for the TV talent show but I must admit to rarely watching them any more. Back in the day I would watch all the British TV talent shows and even the US ones like American Idol. UK TV stations fighting over the rights to American Idol (an import), just showed you how popular the genre was, that in the UK we were lapping up anything we could get.

Saturation

The main reason I don’t watch them anymore is because when the popularity was growing, the number of programmes and length of programmes in a series just seemed to grow and grow. Live shows turned in to 3-hour marathons and then moved from just Saturday night to Saturday and Sunday night, which meant giving up most of the weekend to follow them.

You can’t just blame one thing for the slow death of the TV talent show but I think viewer fatigue and the way we consume media now means that at least for a while I think they have had their day.

Blessings in disguise

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This week the Church of England have taken over the headlines here in the UK, after leading cinemas refused to screen a commercial they had made featuring the Lord’s Prayer.

The advert that they submitted can be seen here:

There were no complaints made from the general public about the advert and the rules set out by the Committee of Advertising Practice only urge advertisers to avoid causing offence and inciting hatred, they do not say that something of a religious nature cannot be shown.

A lot of us will no doubt be going to the cinema over the Christmas period to see the new blockbusters like Star Wars, so it was a great advertising idea by the Church of England to capitalize on this market. I think that churches need to use media and interact with culture to reach people in the modern world we live in, so will always support initiatives like this as I want to see more things like this. I want to see the media taken over on all levels.

I think he big cinema chains scored a huge own-goal by banning this advert. From a business perspective they gave away income and lost future potential business from the Church of England. After doing this they also gave the Church of England a million times more publicity than they would have got, if the advert hadn’t been banned. The biggest marketing and publicity companies would be giving themselves the biggest high fives if they managed to get the publicity that this advert has received but it wasn’t a marketing company, it was a church.

The big chain cinemas could face a backlash for this action as by some media outlets they are being seen as not allowing freedom of speech. People will continue to go and see films, don’t get me wrong, but peoples view of certain chains of cinemas could change considerably.

In the UK, the media is telling us that we are becoming less of a Christian nation. The uproar about this advert being banned gives me hope and I think shows that although church attendance maybe down or the number of people who call themselves Christian maybe down, underneath these numbers I think there is still a lot of support for the church and Christian faith in the UK.

The timing of all of this in the run up to advent and Christmas is brilliant for the church and Christianity. The cinemas did not think this through at all but I hope through this incident that it will encourage more people to think of Christ this Christmas.

A changing audience

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I wanted to use this blog to pick up on a question that I posed at the end of my last blog, which can be viewed here:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/are-we-falling-for-it/

The question was: Is social media reaction more important than actual viewership?

This question was in to relation to programmes that air on TV as the way we watch and consume media continues to change. Gone are the days where we would find out about programmes through TV listings magazines and TV adverts alone. Gone are the days where we would have to wait until the next day at work or school to find out what people were watching or to tell them about something you watched. Now whilst watching TV you can go online and tell the world what you think of what you are watching and join in with what others are saying. If you aren’t watching TV yourself, you can go on social media and find out what programmes are worth watching or not worth watching, based on what people are saying.

Social Media is free advertising

So as social media users are we all now basically free advertising for companies with something to promote? I think sometimes what we say has more sway than what companies say about their own products and the companies with the products are trying their hardest to encourage us to post positive things about them. This is why I think it is important to use our sphere of influence wisely, as you never know when someone might try or buy something based on something you have said. Your opinion is worth a lot more than you think it is.

It’s like when people shop online for things these days, instead of brands and advertising most people look at the customer reviews. Good customer reviews on leading websites can be worth more to a company than a big advertising campaign. I think as a people in this day and age we are starting to trust each other more than we do companies and advertising, which is an encouraging sign.

Gone will be the day of TV schedules

Getting back to TV programmes, I think the time when we don’t have linear TV schedules will happen in my lifetime. I think peoples TV’s will become just a monitor, which will show the content they want it to, when they want it to. On Demand will just be the way we watch TV. Nobody will own any media but we will all be able to view anything we want at the touch of a button.

I think this will lead to us becoming a more discerning audience, which just watches the things we are interested in and that the only way we try new programmes out is by other people’s recommendations or response. If we hear about something online, we as an audience will add it to a list of programmes to watch and then watch it at a time that suits us.

I think an interesting development last year was the news that BitTorrent was starting to create its own content that can be downloaded through BitTorrent. I think this will be a hard market due to the reputation of BitTorrent and peoples opinions of it but I am glad they are also joining the market.

A change for the good

I think this change in the TV world has been a good change, as the focus has now been put back on the content, not on when it airs. After seeing the likes of Netflix leading the way with its range of original series that it has produced, companies that have both traditional TV and online platforms are now creating online only content and not only that but proudly advertising the online content, using the fact that it is online only as a unique selling point.

I think with all of these shifts there is more power out there for the user to control what they are consuming, so we need to use it and embrace it. I think it is more important now than ever to use this power as now we each have access to a plethora of media, which if we aren’t careful will take over our lives.

Selling the game

It’s been a bad news week this week if you are a fan of what many people call the national game of England, that being football (or soccer for my American readers).

The TV rights to screen games from our biggest league ‘The Premiership’ have been sold to Sky and BT for a staggering £5.136bn, which is 71% above the amount they paid for TV rights last time they were sold. Here is a news story about this development:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31379128

The clubs in the leagues are probably rubbing their hands together, as this sale of rights means more money will filter through to the clubs, which will make their balance sheets look healthier give them capital to build stadiums, ability to buy new players and more chances to secure loans or credit.

I think the clubs and the league will be the only winners though. To access football matches legally in the UK through Sky and BT, you either have to have a paid subscription or pay for their other products and services. Both Sky and BT are businesses and need to make money from these deals, so that leaves the fans in a bad place.

The Rich get richer

I’m sure the money the clubs make through these deals will keep some fans happy though, as some will use the increased revenues to buy big name players to excite and entertain their fans. These players will get paid a ridiculous amount of money and may or may not bring success to their club. Whilst the wages of the super rich footballers I’m sure will increase with this deal, I’m sure the average earnings of the fans that pay their money to support them won’t increase at anywhere near the same rate.

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The problem with the TV rights deal is that it starts a domino effect on the money earned and spent by those in the game, as it filters from Sky to the Premier League, then to the clubs and then to the players. People are already speculating that this TV deal may be the catalyst for the record transfer fee and wages for a player to be broken again. Even though the money coming in may be going up, the costs for the TV providers and the clubs I think will be going up significantly in the next 4 years because of it.

Business

Sky and BT will need to claw their outlay back and this is where I think the fans are going to be hit in the pocket. The easiest way for them to do this is by increasing the costs for their subscriptions and to increase the lengths of contracts you have to commit to in order to watch the games.

The next way they will claw their outlay back is through advertising. I think we can expect to see more on screen advertising during games and coverage, more paid for advertising on their online and social media streams, then finally probably more advert breaks or longer advert breaks in the build up, half time and post match.

Open Letter

Last year I blogged my ‘Open Letter’ to the football world which can be seen here:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/open-letter-to-football-teams-players-staff-and-tv-companies-that-screen-football-in-the-uk/

Following on from this weeks news, I think this problem that I blogged about last year is only going to get worse. Sky and BT will be more desperate than ever for more advertisers and higher spending advertisers, so all I can see is betting adverts around football increasing.

Aggressive advertising

More betting adverts, more aggressive betting advertising and closer links between TV companies and betting companies will only see more people betting on football, which I think is a problem. Again (as I did in my blog last year) I stress that I am not anti-betting but I think for a good percentage of people that an aggressive advertising assault encouraging them to bet, could lead them in to financial problems and addictions.

We need to remember that it’s the betting companies that make the most from gambling, not the customers. Betting companies, like Sky and BT need to make a profit and for betting companies they will have to make more money to afford price hikes in advertising costs.

Pressure

With more at stake than ever for Sky and BT the pressure to make more money has been increased. The boards and shareholders will want to see returns on their investments and I am sure if these deals aren’t as successful for them as they had hoped, that it could have massive implications on their companies and their staff.

Inflated bubble

To fund what is becoming an ever over inflated bubble it will be the fans that lose out. I think for long-term success it is important to get as many people watching the game as possible, but all I can see long term is people turning away from the game. It won’t happen overnight but if we continue at this rate for the next 20 years, I dread to think what the sport will be like.

Why are we all suckers for labels and branding?

I was watching a TV show with my wife the other day, which got me thinking. On the show, the two presenters would go to the kitchen of a family and change all their food and groceries for a week, to encourage them to eat well for less. This would mean getting rid of a lot of branded goods and replacing them with cheaper and healthier alternatives. All the items they replaced, they gave to the family covered in white labels, so the family had no idea what brand they were eating. Then at the end of the week the presenters came back to see what the family liked and didn’t like, to see if they could save them money on their weekly shop and get them eating healthier.

Below is a link to details about the programme in question:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0520lz9

Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that home brands and non branded products are cheaper than the heavily branded and marketed products, but what shocked me, was home much healthier some of the home brands and non branded products were. For a fraction of the price, many items were at least as healthier or in a lot of cases healthier.

Power

The power of brands, marketing and advertising means that no matter how much information, reporting and science there is out there about products, that sadly the brands will always be purchased in high volumes. In a world, which I think is information hungry, and with more information out there than ever before you wouldn’t think that brands would have the same power, but yet they still seem to have it. Even when we know that the reason we are attracted to brands is because of their packaging and marketing, we still choose to switch off the logical part of our brain and buy the brand.

As a world we need to be looking at the back of packets & boxes and not the front! One of the reasons why companies spend so much on advertising and branding is so that you don’t look at the back first! If supermarkets displayed items on their shelves back to front I am sure our buying habits would change a lot. As the important information is on the back, I think it is a case of out of sight, out of mind for many of us, which is not the best philosophy to have, when so much of our health is dictated by what we eat.

Branding is everywhere

I think we need to not buy in to the packaging and exterior of something and if we did this across all areas of our lives, I think we would be better off. Branding is everywhere now, from companies to individuals. It’s not just big companies and celebrities that market themselves now, it’s your local business and your regular day folk like you and I that are doing it too.

We need to be a world that looks deeper at a persons or organisations quality and not just what people are saying about them. Don’t be fooled in to believing what other people want you to believe. Take the time to search for the truth and not opinions. Find out what matters to you and make sure you are getting what you want or need from the people and companies around you.

Selling happens everyday

Everyday someone is selling something to you. You might not know it’s happening, you might not be buying anything but someone will be trying to influence the way you think about something. Some people are trying to consciously change your thoughts and opinions, whilst others are doing it to you without even knowing that they are. Lets try to be aware of it and let’s try to make sure we make the best decisions that we can, in all aspects of our lives.

The goal of businesses is to make as much money as possible, the goal of people who brand themselves is to get good jobs, good contacts and good money. Your goal should be to make the best decisions you can, based on the best information and experience you can find.