Media Agency Innovation and the ‘Labs’ Conundrum

Sept 2011 - New NW BW crop for social mediaBy Nigel Walley

Last week I was struck (but not surprised) by the news that Ogilvy have decided to shut their ‘media innovation’ function – Ogilvy Labs.  I have run the only commercially independent media lab – iBurbia Studios – for the last 10 years and understood some of the pain they had gone through.  However, seeing the articles in the press from their labs team protesting about ‘lack of investment in innovation within agencies’ struck a chord. But probably not in a way they would like.

iBurbia Studios was a spin out from the media innovation consultancy Decipher, that I have run since 1998.  Older readers will remember that Decipher itself was first conceived as a ‘change agency’ within Interpublic Group creative agency Lowe Howard Spink.  iBurbia was first conceived in the old Lowe’s HQ at Bowater House.  So I know a little bit about running media innovation labs in agencies. more “Media Agency Innovation and the ‘Labs’ Conundrum”

Breaking Out of The Box

Sept 2011 - New NW BW Head & Shoulders (thumbnail)

By Nigel Walley – @nwalley

This post first appeared as an article in the RTS Magazine ‘Television’ in July 2016

The humble set top box – or STB – has come a long way since it was first introduced over 20 years ago.  Originally just a device intended to decode broadcast signals, many in our industry dismiss the discussion of the STB as a ‘tech’ issue.  However, the STB has emerged as one of the most important device classes in the consumer media landscape and once again is driving disruption and strategic change.

In the early years, viewers used content from pay boxes as a complement to their ‘normal’ TV viewing, just turning on the box when they wanted to access their pay channels. But over time set top boxes morphed a number of times into a new and much more influential driver of change in our industry.  more “Breaking Out of The Box”

Out of home comes into focus

By Matthew Walters – @matthew_walters –

Head and shoulders

Sunday morning began a few weekends ago like any other, with newspapers sprawled over the dining table and a pot of freshly brewed coffee to hand.  On the living room radio, John Lennon – his mock playful vocals ranging over the backing of a lilting acoustic guitar – lamented that “the more I see, the less I know for sure”.  I remembered this line this week when thinking of a newly introduced feature on one of our smallest, yet one of our most interesting, free-to-air platforms that has recently been withdrawn.  Closer inspection revealed that Recordings to Go, as it was called – launched in late March by EE TV as a way for its customers to transfer PVR recordings to a mobile or tablet device, to ultimately be watched outside of the home and without the need for a broadband connection – was quietly removed last month, following (in the words of EE) “discussions with content rightsholders”.  This was made all the more notable by the fact that, just weeks earlier, Sky Q – the new “pay premium” service from Sky – launched with a similar (though crucially not identical) feature that remains in tact and in operation at the time of writing.  Though this would appear to be the tale of two platforms and a type of functionality that has coined the most mechanical of industry jargon (“sideloading”), and could generously be described in these early days as little known and little used (though growing in popularity), this episode in fact cuts much deeper and wider – and points to further potential pinch points in relations between broadcasters, rightsholders and platforms in the months and years ahead. more “Out of home comes into focus”

Streaming Devices Like Amazon Fire Are Now Driving OTT Use On The Big Screens In UK Television Homes

[Click Here To Download Free Summary Highlights]160504 hamish

Decipher have released the latest wave of their bi-annual Mediabug research into consumer media use. Now in its fifth year, the bi-annual report is based on an online consumer survey of 3000 UK consumers, and reports on how new technology is impacting media consumption.



For the first time, this Mediabug Wave has shown the impact of new low-cost streaming devices like Amazon Fire Stick, Roku and Google Chromecast in driving OTT VOD use onto the big screen in UK television homes.

more “Streaming Devices Like Amazon Fire Are Now Driving OTT Use On The Big Screens In UK Television Homes”

A smarter version of Now: Sky and the new “squeezed middle” of free-to-air

By Matthew Walters – @matthew_walters

Head and shoulders“This is something we’re really excited about,” Jeremy Darroch said – perhaps revealingly – at Sky’s Q2 2015/16 results presentation last month.  “There’ll be no switching between inputs or sources, and it means this will become the gateway to our customers’ pay and free-to-air viewing.”  Amidst discussions of “Fluid Viewing”, in-home streaming and “pay premium” price points, these comments were some of the few that didn’t relate to the new Sky Q.  Yet these few words could yet have a more far-reaching and longer-term significance than anything said in the fluorescent-tinged fervour of the last three months as we’ve waited for the latest version of the Sky pay TV platform to come to market. more “A smarter version of Now: Sky and the new “squeezed middle” of free-to-air”

Chasing Sparrows In Marathi

We hear so many horror stories of fraud, malware and deceit on the internet that it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of the overwhelming global good the internet has delivered. Sometimes this is a huge good, but most often it is the cumulative impact of lots of little ‘moments of goodness’. We want to share a small unimportant story that makes this case.

In 2016 Decipher will be launching a spin-out tech company based on some IP we have developed in-house. We recently went through the increasingly difficult process of deciding what to call the new company.  As most start-ups will tell you, in an increasingly globalised world there just aren’t many that words left that you can buy the rights for in all the relevant ways. more “Chasing Sparrows In Marathi”

Disney, Broadcasters and Direct-to-Consumer: A Whole New World?

By Matthew Walters – @matthew_walters –

“This is the future, in many respects…we’re seeing more and more opportunities to reach consumers directly, and not through middlemen…this [DisneyLife] is a great example of our strategy to utilise technology to connect with consumers in more direct and compelling ways, something that only Disney can do.”

 Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive, The Walt Disney Company
October 2015

Head and shouldersChristmas is almost upon us, and it seems apt as 25th December gets ever closer to be discussing the company behind some of the festive season’s most well-known films – think Santa’s Workshop (if you haven’t seen it, you must), think Tim Allen in The Santa Clause, and think Michael Caine’s Ebenezer Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol.  Many years and many miles from the streets of Dickensian London, it was on a fourth-quarter call with investors last month that Bob Iger – the man atop the Disney empire – fielded questions from analysts on two issues of strategic importance to Disney, one current and one future. more “Disney, Broadcasters and Direct-to-Consumer: A Whole New World?”

Television and the 12-18s: the Millennials Speak

By Matt Walters – @matthew_walters –

Head and shouldersIt has become a recurring theme among observers of the TV industry that young people have rejected broadcast television and “don’t watch TV any more”.  The huge take up of alternative video formats and new devices is continually interpreted as evidence of this rejection. Recent analysis of viewing patterns and quantitative research from Ofcom and Thinkbox has shown that linear still plays a significant role in the viewing mix for young adults. These reports also show that over half of viewing amongst 12 – 18 year olds is now non-linear VoD and OTT.  While the new data has reset our understanding of “what” is happening, what we haven’t known until now is “why”; what is motivating this shift, and will it remain in the future? more “Television and the 12-18s: the Millennials Speak”

Misunderstanding The Backwards EPG

6th January 2016: our original blog, published on 29th November last year, has been revised to incorporate new research data we have received.  We are pleased to include this in relation to discussion of the 1st generation backwards EPGs below.

At the launch of the new SkyQ system recently, there was one feature (or lack of it) which struck us odd.  The proposed system currently doesn’t have a backwards EPG, or any deep integration with catch-up from linear broadcast.  When we asked why, we were told that ‘our consumer research shows that only a small number of people use them to access catch-up’.  We would make three points:
– You can’t disadvantage any users, however small the user base
– Current backwards EPGs aren’t good enough to use as a research benchmark
– It sounds like the research was asking the wrong question more “Misunderstanding The Backwards EPG”