5 Mar 2020

Generation Z – more universal than unicorn


Fairy tales are often spoken about the humans who are categorised as Generation Z.

For those who can’t be bothered to google, Gen Z is a term or weapon to describe 2.5 billion people, aged between 7 and 23, younger siblings of millennials, whose parents were probably into the Happy Mondays, Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and the Shamen. I made the last bit up but you get the picture.

A photo of some Generation X people when they were the same age as Generation Z people

There are tribes of agencies, legions of media channels, flocks of coders and technology entrepreneurs who have set up shop to to solve the Gen Z audience engagement conundrum: how do we get money out of them?

Billions of dollars are blown every year to attract the eyeshare of this illusory demographic, across mythical platforms, where these consumer unicorns rear and canter.

There’s so much we know about ‘them’ apparently. Like how they they are the biggest family influencer on holiday destinations and they are always on their mobile phones, which is why they have no patience or attention capabilities.

They are increasingly disaffected by incumbent social media touchpoints but at the same time use the same platforms for their news and purchase information.

They like frictionless transactions more than face-to-face customer service – in short, they are The Awkward Squad but then, aren’t we all?

What is often not sought by the users, believers, receivers of these generational insights is an explanation behind the marketing narratives.

When Mister Percentage starts talking it is right be cynical.

According to one global tech giant, 30% of Gen Zs (750 million people) are willing to share their personal information with companies.

Says who?

The answer, 15,600 consumers, aged 13 to 21, in 16 countries, across six continents might sound impressive but as a representation of billions of people who just happened to be born between 1995 and 2010 is it really that credible?

At the other end of the Gen Z fairy tale arc, there are the ‘Well, My Nigels‘.

These are people whose knowledge of an entire, global demographic is based solely on immediate, familial experience, usually with their children, let’s call all their children Nigel.

‘Well, my Nigel won’t watch anything unless it’s on YouTube’.

Good for him.

‘Well, my Nigel would only consider working for a company that had a spotless diversity policy’.

Quite right too, Nige, but are you really the knowledge-vane for the experience of an entire generation?

Gen Z-ers are often framed as the naysayers of traditional media consumption.

Even if they could, they wouldn’t pay to watch a football game, subscribe to Netflix, pay money to Spotify or buy a tune from Apple Music. I heard all this from a Well, My Nigel just the other day.

At the same time Mister Percentage instructs that although YouTube is the ‘go-to source’ for video content, 71% of Gen Z-ers also have a Netflix seat, more than any other generation.

Where and why do I now put my marketing budget based on this fundamental conflict of insight?

The answer is to look beyond platforms and devices and lean in to what matters: experience.

Research quoted in the FT, based on declared attendance figures in the UK shows that ticket purchases for UK sports events by 16-24-year-olds are growing .

However, that’s only really boosted by Premier League attendance i.e. ‘Let’s take out a loan to watch the Arsenal at the Emirates #YoLo’.

Meanwhile, the gulf between England’s top flight and the rest of the clubs in the English Football League is widening every year.

Research based on actual people who have worked with the lower leagues are cited by award-winning football writer Miguel Delaney who suggests that younger audiences now consume sport in a totally different way.

You can observe this shift in behaviour through a dystopian, apocalyptic lens i.e. the lifeblood of real football is being vampirically drained by a Superleague-hungry elite of six global football teams, in a world of digital hyper-addiction where fake news is king.

Or, you can look at the evolution of younger audience habits in the context of deeper, more intense fan engagement, where fans can immediately access replays of goals and glean insights from a wider fanbase on SnapChat or Instagram close friends.

But as one government source puts it, “If you’re a teenager and you have access to Fifa (the game not the federation), social media, live Premier League and Champions League games, and you can play yourself, where does going to Wigan Athletic games for £20 a pop fit into that?”

Younger audiences are not exotic, evolutionary specimens with alien consumption habits that do not chime with tradition. They share the same passions, enthusiasms, challenges and dilemmas that their great, great, great grandparents faced a century ago and they maybe playing football on consoles instead of grass but they are still playing.

My point is a simple one – we have a lot more in common as human beings than the Well, My Nigels and Mister Percentages would have you believe, especially around sport and more specifically football.

24 Jan 2020

What’s in a view?


In 2014, OTT success was mainly attributable to Netflix. In 2020 OTT success, is mainly attributable to Netflix.

Every three months the Netflix big beasts slouch away from their streaming media server farm to reveal quarterly earnings and subscriber counts, which are quickly followed by financial and media analysts writing about new viewing habits and media revenue models. All is then well with the future prosperity of Netflix and OTT. The new audiences continue to watch everything from The Witcher to Trailer Park Boys.

“The Witcher” Netflix

The anticipated self-harming, panic attack on Wall Street was induced this time around the launch of Disney+ which Netflix CEO Reed Hastings damned with faint praise in his Q4 earnings report this week, saying The Plus had taken ‘a little away from us’.

At Mediacells, we’re not that bothered about the vanity metrics of bla-bla ‘Netflix added more than 8 million net subscribers worldwide’ or, bla-bla ‘a relatively modest 420,000 increase in the United States’ but bla-bla ‘30% down on forecasts from the previous quarter.’

For us, that’s not performance, that’s just puff.

What is much more interesting to our data scientists is the shift in how ‘views’ are now being counted by Netflix.

The benchmark used to be a subscriber watching 70% of a film or TV episode. But in a footnote in the Netflix’s quarterly letter to shareholders the global media streaming giant now states that a view means that a subscriber “chose to watch and did watch for at least 2 minutes — long enough to indicate the choice was intentional.”

Two minutes. This change in performance measurement boosts the figures by 35%.

A view used to be comparable in the good old media networks days and it was then ratified by Nielsen and the likes so everybody, including investors, could sleep; until the next quarterly revenues are revealed.

No one really cares how long they are watching as long as they are still paying the subscriptions, right? Wrong. As we all know, if you don’t use it, you lose it. There is always the unsubscribe button.

Meanwhile, we, the viewers, still to navigate the various and labyrinthine media platform discovery points, as my wife has wont to direct me in the Rees living room,
Put it on HDM Thirteen (HDMi3) and then whatever, I want to watch Succession“.

Until the next self-harming media analyst panic attack – when HBO Max launches in Spring.

10 Dec 2019

Shape-shifting – the social media storytelling ingredient


Running as a candidate in the UK 2019 elections must be a neurotic pursuit.

There are stories being told about you, sometimes spun by invisible storytellers. The substance of the stories is at best dubious and at worst malevolent and if you want to change the message, you first need to influence the influencers.

The UK election is proving a perfect showcase for the social media ability to subvert the established rules of communications, we call this shape-shifting.

The best example of social media shape-shifting has taken place in the last 24-hours in the run-up to the UK general election 2019.

A four-year-old boy is pictured lying on a hospital floor, waiting for treatment. A debate catches fire with a Daily Telegraph columnist acting as a hub by retweeting doubts about the veracity of the pictures. The circumstances are later confirmed by the NHS.

Health Minister Matt Hancock is sent to the hospital and the BBC tweets that a Labour activist ‘punched Hancock’s advisor.’ The Daily Mail, the Express, the Sun, the Telegraph and the Guardian all tweet news about what is quickly labelled Punchgate.

Later, a reporter attempts to show Prime Minister Johnson pictures of the hospitalised, prostrate child. The journalist, Joe Pike, later tweeted:
‘Tried to show @BorisJohnson the picture of Jack Williment-Barr … The PM grabbed my phone and put it in his pocket’

Brand custodians want to shape the direction of a story and to be efficient and effective, it is critical to know who is providing the viral rocket fuel.

Identifying key influencers, their interests and then connecting conversations, sentiments and allegiances are just some of the key features of the Mediacells Influencer Networks.

Insights are generated by analysing relationships and interactions, bespoke to each of our clients. Influencer Networks identify key influencers, how they feel about relevant topics, who the key protagonists are and where their intellectual allegiances lie.

Messaging activities can then be targeted and measured to deliver results and deepen relationships between Marketing/Communications teams and the journalists, vloggers and influencers who are most relevant.

29 Nov 2019

Set-piece content spurs fans to accept the Special One

by Matt Stone Mauricio Pochettino had five and a half successful years as Head Coach at Tottenham Hotspur. He failed to win any trophies but the team and the Club undeniably moved forward, better squad, new stadium and training ground. Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho, a pantomime villain at Spurs for his time at Chelsea, had been […]

11 Nov 2019

Bezos decks Powerpoint but collaboration is the main message on show

By Matt Stone Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has banned Powerpoint presentations in meetings. Not only that, but meetings start with each attendee sitting and silently reading a six-page memo for the first 30 minutes. People take notes then discuss the memo. This group reading process is necessary because “executives will bluff their way through the […]

28 Oct 2019

Mediacells appointed by Southampton FC to drive digital transformation

We’re very excited to announce that Mediacells has been appointed by Southampton FC to support the continuing transformation of their digital output. The new agreement will see Mediacells develop a single source social media analytics platform to deliver compelling content that acquires and retains fans. Performance Analytics will deliver Saints a 360-degree, near-live view of […]

18 Oct 2019

iPlayer revamp cuts to the heart of audience and sports rights transformation

by Matt Stone The BBC has announced an update of the iPlayer, the 4th since its launch 12 years ago. Where the iPlayer had a 40% share of streaming audience 5 years ago, it’s now down to 15% due to the Netflix effect – even before the launch of Disney Plus and Apple TV in […]

19 Sep 2019


By Matt Stone The UEFA Champions League Group Stage returned this week – the biggest annual football tournament in the world with elite stars playing each other in the most popular sport. So how should the industry measure their digital footprint and engagement? What constitutes success? The classic ‘big number’ on the press release? Or […]

16 Apr 2019

Spurs’ stadium paves the way for global football

By Matt Stone Can a fan ever be happy to be called a customer? Do they actually care about anything outside the pitch itself? Can the football business ever build something truly authentic for the devoted hardcore? Tottenham Hotspur have taken a £1bn gamble that the answer to these questions is a resounding ‘Yes.’ On the […]

20 Mar 2019