On the MiC with McCann Erickson’s Faris Yakob

MiC has a one-on-one with AToMiC speaker Faris Yakob before the big event hits Toronto this week. 

Futurist and McCann Erickson chief technology strategist Faris Yakob has worked on brands like Orange, Sony, Google, Yahoo!, Nestle and Virgin Mobile, in Sydney, London and New York. His blog, Talent Imitates, Genius Steals, was named one of the top ten advertising blogs in the UK by Campaign. And he is one of the many to speak at AToMiC, where media innovation, technology and creativity are colliding as the industry’s gurus and iconoclasts come together in Toronto this Wednesday to share perspectives. In the Big Bang spirit of the strategy and MiC-presented event, MiC decided to catch up with Yakob to get the conversation started.

MiC: What’s the biggest change technology has brought from a planning POV?

Yakob: I think the biggest changes it brings for planning are: access to real, unsolicited, behavioural data for insights – far more interesting to see what the whole population is doing than to ask a few hundred people what they think; a blurring of the roles of planners, as good planners that understand technology can be as good at ideas as traditional creatives; and blogging has allowed thinking and conversation to be shared amongst a global community.

MiC: Where is the future of brand communication headed?

Yakob: While I’m in love with the ideas of tomorrow, I have of course no way to predict with any certainty. However, looking at how technology allows commercial interruption to be removed from content, and how younger people have an intrinsically participatory relationship with ideas and content, both give an indication of where we are headed.

MiC: How are ad business models changing? Where are they headed?

Yakob: They aren’t changing fast enough. Selling time is not a value-based pricing model, but cracking how to value ideas is, and always has been, the challenge.

MiC: What is ‘transmedia storytelling’ and how it a useful notion for brands and media planners?

Yakob: Transmedia storytelling is an idea Henry Jenkins developed in his book Convergence Culture, where elements of narrative are distributed across platforms, each piece adding to a larger narrative world in the manner of The Matrix, where the plot of the films was one narrative strand, but others unfolded across games, comics, cartoons and so on. From this idea I created the notion of transmedia planning, which in essence is a communication planning model that suggests using media additively, not repetitively. (More details here.)

MiC: What changes do you see coming on the horizon that media planners should start planning for?

Yakob: The skills of media planning are about finding ways to reach people with content efficiently. Communication planning and content strategy will be required aspects of this in the future.

MiC: In a world of constant change, what can media planners count on as staying the same?

Yakob: Companies will want to find ways to reach out to consumers – they just may not be buying aggregated attention from mainstream media to do it.