Mark Higginson

The web is a social artifact.

This short manifesto covers what I hold to be self-evident about modern marketing practices, particularly related to online activity.

This piece about how people's attention flows on the web highlights the fundamental misunderstanding that causes almost all online marketing to be ineffective.

The blog that follows consists of a series of short posts that support my arguments.


13 January 2018

Invisible cities

Six years ago I happened to take this screenshot on Jaguar’s Facebook Page.


I was criticising the claim made by a marketing agency they were working with this was the “3rd most engaged-with UK brand on Facebook”. As it was plain to see most of the ‘engagement’ was happening from New Delhi.

The thing is I wouldn’t be able to find that out today. Sometime last year Facebook quietly disappeared this information from all of their Pages. It passed completely without comment.

Did you know that every single big brand Facebook Page I ever looked at always had ‘Dhaka’, Jakarta’, ‘New Delhi’, or another large Asian city as their ‘Most Popular City’? Week-in and week-out.

More importantly why do you think this was the case? And why do you think no one in the marketing sector has ever highlighted or discussed this fact despite it being in plain sight for years?

Let me know what you think on Twitter


06 January 2018

Spiegel has a portrait of Jobs hanging in his office.

The Snapping Point

This article seeks to establish weak parallels between the co-founder of Snapchat and Steve Jobs. It does so by highlighting that Spiegel has a portrait of Jobs hanging in his office and has an apparently annoying tendency to micro-manage. Presumably this is to give us a sense of confidence in his leadership ability.

This is the antithesis of Jobs, who I bet neither hung a portrait of some other well-known business person on his wall, nor sought to have this mentioned in the press.

Let me know what you think on Twitter


15 May 2016

He has seen declining organic reach and traffic — challenges also being felt at other brand publications like, Coke’s Journey and GE Reporters.

To combat image issues, Walmart bets big on its own newsroom

Here’s another example to add to the collection of big brands who don’t understand how attention works on the web. A blog featuring positive stories that people have to actively choose to visit isn’t going to fix perception problems. I’ve highlighted the nonsense that is ‘brands as publishers’ so many times let me simply juxtapose the above story against this one:

Law enforcement logged nearly 16,800 calls in one year to Walmarts in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. That’s two calls an hour, every hour, every day.

Walmart. Thousands of police calls. You paid the bill.

Here you’re looking at a problem systemic to the business in question. I’d argue that where people come into contact with their ‘newsroom’ all it does is serve to throw these types of problem into sharper relief. People aren’t stupid. They’re aware of blatant propaganda. If you can’t fix the things the public perceive as problems because your business model relies on these to generate profits then you’re in the wrong business.

Let me know what you think on Twitter


04 March 2016

It’s easier to be tempted by stuff that promises you the most money or the most return for your reach. I think they were perhaps underwhelmed by maybe more professional options that promise less payment.

The secret lives of Tumblr teens

This comment is a little disingenuous. The reality is that the major social platforms don’t like you making money if they’re not getting their cut. Logical given this is their only revenue stream and are massively over-valued.

The piece the quote comes from is fantastic in every way and well worth a read. It charts the rise of popular blogs run by teens that are then destroyed by their involvement with affiliate marketing. Truly a parable of the modern web.

Let me know what you think on Twitter


02 February 2016

I would watch in awe as she flipped through her snaps, opening and responding to each one in less than a second with a quick selfie face. She answered all 40 of her friends’ snaps in under a minute.

Snapchat like the teens

Great summary of a longer Buzzfeed post where the author observes his sister using Snapchat.

“No conversations…it’s mostly selfies.”

The way she interacts with friends’ messages doesn’t match-up with how ‘brands’ market themselves on Snapchat.

“I don’t really see what they send. I tap through so fast. It’s rapid fire.”

Snapchat needs to generate revenue from advertisers. Yet the dominant user behaviours appear fundamentally incompatible with how advertising operates in this medium.

“Industrialization made it so that people could live farther and farther apart from each other, which is weird for social animals like humans and particularly difficult for teenagers for whom that social connection is the most important thing in their lives.”

People’s needs and the behaviours that manifest as a result on social platforms aren’t congruent with a model of marketing that is still based on the ‘broadcasting’ of messages en masse.

Let me know what you think on Twitter