No, I’m not going to say our Internet speed is finally as fast as Singapore’s. And, no, this isn’t because we trended worldwide again because of a TV show.
I’ve been tracking what has been read, watched and shared most in the Philippines for a year now. (You can check out my early compilations here). Last week, I noticed two things that stood out.
What happened in November 2015 that was so important?
There were two things that got my attention:
For the first time, all the top Philippine searches were not driven by Metro Manila. Or CALABARZON.
The second most-searched word in the Philippines wasn’t even in Metro Manila’s top 5.
The second-highest search term was driven by Central Luzon, for two whole weeks in November 2015.
The search phrase that was part of the top Philippine searches, but not in Metro Manila or CALABARZON:
Yes, Central Luzon looked for Adele’s newest song more than people in or closer to Metro Manila.
These were the most searched for phrases in the Philippines that were unique to November 2015 (“Rising keyword searches):
And these were the search keywords we Metro Manilans were occupied with:
It was Central Luzon (and to some extent, the Davao region) that pushed the “hello” searches to the top 2 spot for the month.
On to the second new and special thing.
2. There are now a significant volume of searches in 7 more regions in the Philippines!
In the past years, there wasn’t a significant enough volume of usage for Google to measure Google searches in other areas.
When I started collecting search data, Google could only measure the rising search keywords in Metro Manila (e.g. Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan), CALABARZON (e.g. Antipolo, Dasmarinas, Bacoor), Central Visayas (e.g. Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City) and the Davao Region (e.g. Davao City, General Santos City and the City of Tagum).
Now, it can measure rising searches in 13 Philippine regions.
Why do these two developments make it a great day for the Philippines?
We’ll start to see the real potential of the Internet in our country, versus broadcast media.
For years, the American Internet / Web (please tell me if there’s a better way to phrase that) and particularly news outfits have been talking about “hyperlocal”.
With broadcast media, you can only do so much to make extremely locally relevant (town, municipality or niche community level) news. You would need to set-up a formal infrastructure, using company resources just to make sure different towns get content that’s relevant to them.
BUT, the Internet changed that in nations with more widespread internet usage – bloggers, podcasts, websites could be written from anywhere and be relevant to niche communities across the country, and not only be driven by formal institutions in capital cities.
Personal choice (Control) and Distributed power (Reach)
In the Philippines, without enough connectivity throughout the country, most of the online buzz was still driven and controlled by Metro Manila, and Cebu City.
But now, finally: we really get to see how online media differentiates itself from “broadcast” media, in terms of reach and control (personalization, always-on).
We get to see how the different regions, cities and towns begin to have their own subcultures and patterns and see how it impacts the country’s media tastes.
I did nationwide qualitative research for years, and I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. The day I’ll start to see the rest of the country have a voice in what gets shared and what is popular, as opposed to just the “key cities”. Our country is so diverse, and for me, this just means it’s going to be a pretty exciting year for the Philippine Internet.
Check back week-to-week, I’ll do my best to share regular updates. And if you want to help create something out of data like this, get in touch.
And the best thing that illustrates how this works — is NBC’s 30 Rock.
30 Rock is an NBC sitcom depicting Liz Lemon’s life and work as a variety show producer, working for Jack Donaghy — a top boss of on-screen media network “NBC”. In it, you have a behind-the-scenes peek into what life is like for a big TV brand.
Content Strategy ‘00s, or using research to impact the creation of content
Have you seen 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy ask the The Girly Show production team to make changes based on focus groups? For me, that was “content strategy” before I learned about the phrase “content strategy”.
I found those jokes so real because I was a research analyst in an emerging market media conglomerate — there was no “content strategy” job in 2007. But my job was to analyze, plan and help iterate content (from tone, to topics and platform or distribution strategy) to achieve business objectives.
Following the same vein of Kristina Halvorson and Mashable’s advice that “consumers are the real experts; so don’t listen to other marketers”, TV networks, like NBC, have been applying consumer-driven creative for years. Probably because they’ve always been content businesses. This just means they make the most money when it churns out the most engaging content.
Research for effective content would mean: qualitative projects and audience measurement for optimizing personalities’ careers, improving “content” (Particularly — the plot, character, relevance or emotional delivery), determining whether the ROI of launching particular pieces of content would be worth the expense of making it, and my favorite among these favorites: facilitating business models (Is there a way to continue making money when the Internet gives everything away?).
And, I can say this frankly. Because, there is one sure sign of a company’s priorities: what it devotes resources to.
You can’t say you prioritize something if you aren’t devoting resources to it.
Jack Donaghy’s “General Electric-NBC” made decisions based on what consumers are looking for. Based on ratings and qualitative research. Very similar to real-life NBC Universal (which has its own research division, with periodic publicly shared learnings that help them make decisions).
If a company says it’s “user-centered” or “customer-centered” or has “user-centered design”, but doesn’t allot budget and embed actual consumer conversation in its workflow, you better wonder what they mean. Embedding consumer insight in the decision-making
I have worked for and with brands that house and manage internal research agencies. The most sophisticated one being equipped with its own statistics specialists, is headed by a statistician, and over half of that office is qualitative research analysts, like me.
Did you think networks like NBC Universal create content and personalities that are left to the expertise and opinion of creative genius alone?
Well, no. It’s strategic; and based on constantly updated consumer insight, that supports the directors, writers, talent managers and business unit heads, which NBC Universal is transparent about.
Next time you complain about annoying things on a TV show. Know that that is probably 70–80% on purpose.
Research Effectiveness: Or how to judge whether the research works
I was lucky to work with someone who is, to my knowledge, and I apologize to all the other researchers I worked with — the most brilliant researcher I know. Also, probably the scariest, because of that intelligence.
I learned the true potential of research from her. And what became my standard for excellent data analysis: The ability to predict success.
Or failure, for that matter.
It isn’t enough to be accurate, there’s a need to be accurate about particular things
We were trained to specialize in our own “sub-concentration”.
Like how Liz Lemon leads a particular genre of shows, one of my mine was predicting the performance of new programs. Also, being the go-to researcher of the brand impact of a personality’s behavior. Also, improving variety show stars and segments. Another fun specialization was Japanese anime.
The one that pretty much changed the course of my job (i.e. I eventually shifted to product development) was finding what makes content platforms tick — TV vs. Radio vs. Movies. That was fun.
Not a lot of people like talking to people to analyze them day-in and day-out and measure the effects. Hence a high drop-off rate at the 6-month mark in research agencies.
Don’t be the red balloon
Research people get told and trained to “not want to be red balloons”. Meaning, research professionals should facilitate and be excellent behind-the-scenes workers, and should not intend to steal the thunder of creators and decision-makers. Which is something you don’t mind as a researcher, anyway.
I feel the need to say this and talk about this type of research work though, because there aren’t a lot of people who dedicated years and much effort to data-driven content on a massive national scale, with very real financial and revenue consequences. Analysts are usually expected to deal with finances, and FMCG sales, but not content. Which 30 Rock repeatedly shows the value of, even as jokes.
A recent study demonstrated that we can successfully predict which messages will go viral and which will not. This study showed that the ideas that are destined to spread have a characteristic signature at their origin — that is, quite literally, within the brain of the sender. These messages specifically activate key regions in two circuits in the sender’s brain: the “reward” circuit, which registers the value of the message to the sender, and the “mentalizing” circuit, which activates when we see things from the point of view of the person who receives the message…
…The more you value an idea that you want to spread, the more likely you are to be successful at spreading it. In addition, the more accurately you can predict how others will feel about the message, the more likely you are to be successful at spreading this idea. These findings are profound because they imply that we can predict which messages will go viral…
…when you also register that your actual value is that you are investing in helping to cure people from their illnesses or shorten their durations of suffering (“y”). You may not be right all the time, but if this is your genuine reward, your brain’s reward circuit will be activated because this will always be true
How will they feel about the fact that you have a history of success in biotechnology investing? How will they feel about their own investment in the well-being of the world? Do they care about communicating this to their families? Would they be excited about the rapid advancements in this field and seeing the newness of the opportunity? Here again, these different aspects of how your audience thinks will help to accentuate the activation in your mentalizing circuit — where you form a mental picture of the audience’s needs and wants.
it would make a difference if he or she actually wanted to spread the message rather than just passively feeling that the message is valuable. This implies that it matters when you think of how a message can be useful to others rather than simply thinking about yourself.
All three factors (value, mentalizing, and intention to spread) point to the fact that the social currency of a message matters at the very source of the message.
On one hand, my initial reaction is that this is too idealistic.
However, the researcher in me can’t argue with experimental data. Which is why the article leads me to self-reflect. Oftentimes, I do blog with the objective of just shouting into the void. Of curation. Very self-focused objectives. When, if people (including me) and brands would start growing a sincere interest in being useful…maybe, that is all that really matters.
Thought-provoking. Because you keep hearing about how Google is revolutionary, but they’re never as suave at branding themselves as Apple, plus they have weird ideas like Google glass, and annoying decisions like killing Google Reader:
“In its behaviour and vocabulary, Google oozes scientific method. A couple of times recently I’ve heard Google executives say in public, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’. …engineers are trained not to act on intuition. You are allowed to have intuition, of course, but you use it to make hypotheses, which you then test. You act on the results of those tests…
When an experiment is completed, you either choose to follow up on it, or you terminate it and move on to something else. A scientist doesn’t get emotional about this; it’s the way the system works, and everyone knows that it’s all for the best.”
4. I don’t know which I enjoyed more – the Maricor/Maricar watercolor typography exercises…