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Preview: Six Pixels of Separation - Marketing and Communications Insights - By Mitch Joel at Twist Image

Six Pixels of Separation - Marketing and Communications Insights - By Mitch Joel at Mirum

Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Blog is marketing and communications insights from the edge. Mitch Joel will unravel the complex world of digital marketing and social media with the perspective of a digital marketing agency. The Six Pixels Of Separat

Last Build Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2017 11:52:36 PST


Words Matter. Definitions Matter More... Or The Problem With Fake News

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 11:52:36 PST

Everything is not fake news. Before we get started, let's all agree that this is not a political post. This is a post about branding, definitions, public perception and the power of the words that we - as businesses - use in marketing. Here's something to think about: CNN is not fake news. Fox News is not fake news. What is fake news? Fake news is someone (or a bot) that builds a website or social media page that either looks like a legitimate news source or spoofs a legitimate news website by stealing its branding. Fake news is also the creation of completely fabricated information that is then published on this fake news website/social media page with the sole intent of making it seem legitimate. Fake news is also the purchasing of advertising that is directly targeted at the audience that is more than likely (based on data) to push this fake content to be shared, published and exchanged in real pages (this way, the fake news becomes legitimate content on real pages). Fake news is also everything above, but done using dark posts, so that the content is only seen by those who it is targeting. Then those consumers will share and re-publish this content, to make it appear more legitimate. That is (in a very simplistic way) what fake news is. Partisan news outlets are not fake news. They are, simply, slanted to cover a particular side in a particular way. When news outlets get the news wrong or promote salacious content, they are not "fake news." They are being partisan, they are being salacious and they are making mistakes. When news outlets post op-ed or editorial pieces, they are not fake news... they are publishing the opinion of an individual (whether we like them or not).  Think about it this way... If you don't agree with this thinking, you can easily point to this article and call it "fake news." It is not fake news. It is content that you don't agree with... or it is content that I may have gotten wrong... or it's my own opinion about a topic and you, simply, do not agree with it. That doesn't meet the definition of fake news... not by a long shot. Still, if someone has a voice, audience and media attention, and trains everybody to believe that fake news is everything stated above - all of it - it can take hold. And, it has. And, that's very scary. People (not just those in power) have become habituated to think that news that is slanted with opinion or that has a mistake in it is the same as fake news, as defined above. You don't have to like the state of the news media business, but we can't just paint a brush and say, "that's fake news!" It's not only unfair, but it's untrue. It also has substantive problems moving forward for all of us, as a society. You can distrust the media. You can be skeptical of the media. You can fall anywhere on the spectrum of media literacy, from believing everything blindly (on one side) to being a total conspiracy theorist (on the other side). This doesn't make the news fake. It makes your level of belief and/or disbelief sway. Labeling major news media outlets as "fake" and allowing this to trickle down and permeate society puts everyone in a very precarious situation. The news was a place that allowed information to flow. It wasn't always perfect. It wasn't always mistake free. It was (and still is) the institution between the power brokers and the general public (who are always the most affected by this power).   Don't mistake facts for opinions. With that, it's fine to question the facts or layer onto the facts an opinion, political stance, religious perspective, etc... but if we fall into the trap of believing that there are no more facts, we are doomed. If we believe that everything we're exposed to in the news is an opinion (and can be called "fake news"), there is a root problem here. Facts that add colour do give us a perspective. Fabricated stories that read like news or appear to be facts are not a perspective. There is an important distinction here. Most of what is being called "fake news" is not. If we allow it to be labelled as such, the implications are terrifying[...]

Apple Had Over 40% Of The Wireless Headphone Market, Facebook Tests Mid-Roll Ads And More On This Week's CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:44:37 PST

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 5 to 10 minutes every week - about everything that is happening in the world of technology and digital media. The good folks at CHOM 97.7 FM are posting these segments weekly on iHeart Radio, if you're interested in hearing more of me blathering away about what's going on in the digital world. I'm really excited about this opportunity, because this is the radio station that I grew up on listening to, and it really is a fun treat to be invited to the Mornings Rock with Terry and Heather B. morning show. The segment is called, CTRL ALT Delete with Mitch Joel. This week we discussed:  Over the holidays, Apple finally started shipping their highly-anticipated AirPods - wireless/Bluetooth headphones. Lots of positive reviews, plus this stunning piece of data: Apple has over 40% of the wireless headphone market. How did that happen so fast? Well, it turns of that AirPods are a runaway success, and the fact that Apple owns Beats... and there you go. Since the AirPods were released, Apple has 26% of the market and Beats has 15.4%. To compare, Bose is at 16.1%... and this is just the beginning for wireless headphones.         How quick are you to skip an ad on YouTube? YouTube is a huge advertising money-maker for brands. Well, are you skipping more of less than millennials? It turns out that 59% of millennials skip ads on YouTube. Some argue that this is a good thing?          It's possible that Facebook either did or did not see the data about YouTube above. Apparently, Facebook is testing mid-roll ads. Facebook will require videos with mid-roll ads to be "at least 90 seconds in total, and a user has to watch a minimum of 20 seconds to be shown an ad. The company is capping ad length at 15 seconds, (compared with 30 seconds for YouTube ads). Publishers will receive 55% of the revenue generated by these ads, which is the same revenue-split that YouTube offers their video creators." Why is Facebook doing this? They're running out of ad inventory. Good news for their accounting department. Bad news for users?  App of the week: Lose It!  Take a listen right here. Tags: advertising agency airpods app of the week apple apple AirPods beats bluetooth headphones Bose brand business blog chom fm ctrl alt delete ctrl alt delete with mitch joel digital marketing digital marketing agency digital marketing blog digital media facebook guest contributor heather beckman i heart radio j walter thompson jwt lose it marketing marketing agency marketing blog mid roll ads mirum mirum agency mirum agency blog mirum blog mirum canada mirum in canada mitch joel mitchjoel montreal radio morning show mornings rock with terry and heather b publisher radio segment radio station six pixels of separation social media technology terry dimonte truview twitter wireless headphone market wireless headphones wpp youtube  chom 977 fm [...]

The Intersection Of Marketing And Analytics With Avinash Kaushik - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 04:17:18 PST

Episode #549 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. Let's start this new year off right, shall we? He's back! Google's Digital Marketing Evangelist, bestselling author (Web Analytics - An Hour A Day and Web Analytics 2.0), powerful blogger (Occam's Razor), friend and marketing big brain, Avinash Kaushik. His monthly posts may as well be business books, and his insights into what should really count today for marketing is refreshing. He's got an attitude, he is full of passion, and he has some ideas about what we all need to be thinking about in this day and age. More recently, Avinash also lauched his own, personal, e-newsletter titled, The Marketing-Analytics Intersect (you best sign up for it), and we're back to look at what happened in 2016, what we see coming in 2017 and, what's exciting (but isn't going to happen any time soon) in the world of analytics and marketing. Enjoy the conversation...  You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast #549. Tags: advertising advertising podcast analytics audio avinash kaushik big data blog blogging brand branding business blog business book business podcast business thinker data david usher digital marketing digital marketing agency digital marketing blog digital marketing evangelist facebook google itunes j walter thompson jwt leadership podcast management podcast marketing marketing blog marketing podcast mirum mirum agency mirum agency blog mirum blog Mirum podcast occams razor social media the marketing analytics intersect twitter web analytics web analytics 20 web analytics an hour a day wpp   [...]

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #343

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 19:37:33 PST

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see? My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see". Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another:  Dronestagram. "I learned about this social network for drone photos via The Washington Post. As cheap footage from anywhere becomes ubiquitous, we'll see the world in new ways (and have fewer secrets to hide)." (Alistair for Hugh). Whirlwind POV Tokyo tour with BMXer Nigel Sylvester - BoingBoing. "I want to have this guy's balance and travel schedule for a few days. Talk about a frenetic way to see a city. I'm also encountering this first-person popup view in the wild more and more, possibly an outgrowth of Twitch and VR. Watch it in full-screen with the sound up." (Alistair for Mitch). Quantifying the Cost of Sprawl - The Atlantic's CityLab. "I'm a little bit skeptical of some of the units used to compare things here (is tax revenue/acre a useful number?). Still, the more data we can get, the better our decisions ought to be... and sprawl vs. compact development seems like a critical urban planning/policy issue for the coming years." (Hugh for Alistair). Republicans want to fight climate change, but fossil-fuel bullies won't let them - The Washington Post. "OK, so this isn't about Trump, exactly, so I'm not sending a link about Trump, OK? But, climate change is probably humanity's greatest threat (or nukes are, I'm not sure). But anyway, turns out all those policymakers who don't believe in the science of climate change, actually do believe in the science of climate change, they just can't say anything about it." (Hugh for Mitch).   CES 2017: The Dawn Of The Third Connected Era - MediaPost. "One of the most underrated thinkers when it comes to advertising, marketing and technology is Rishad Tobaccowala. If you're in the advertising agency business, you should know who he is. If you're in business, you should pay attention to him. He's one of the senior leaders at Publicis. More importantly, he knows (better than most) how to take disruption, technology and business and codify it so that we can all think and grow with more clarity. Here's his take on CES." (Mitch for Alistair). Moby Lets You Download 4 Hours of Ambient Music to Help You Sleep, Meditate, Do Yoga & Not Panic - Open Culture. "Hugh, please. For the sake of everyone. It's enough with the politics. Deep breaths. Deeper sleeps. Calm. Control. And, yes, I may be projecting here. This has been downloaded." (Mitch for Hugh). Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play. src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"> Tags: advertising agency alistair croll amazon bit current bit north bmx boing boing book a futurists manifesto brand business blog ces citylab complete web monitoring digital marketing digital marketing agency digital marketing blog dronestagram facebook gigot hugh mcguire human 20 iambic j walter thompson jwt lean analytics librivox link bait link exchange link sharing managing bandwidth marketing marketing agency marketing blog mediapost mirum mirum agency mirum agency blog mirum blog mirum canada mirum in[...]

Why Personal Branding Is Like A Viral Video... And Why It Shouldn't Be

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 11:51:08 PST

"Personal Brand"... talk about a saying that has become so polarizing. The year was 1997. Business thinker Tom Peters grabs the attention of the world with his Fast Company article, The Brand Called You. It truly does usher in a new era.  "It's time for me -- and you -- to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that's true for anyone who's interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work." This new idea that all of us are now the CEO of our own company. This new idea that all of us can truly control and work on how we stand out in a crowd. Control and and define what we're known for, and leverage these assets to build more personal value, wealth and success. While these were not new-ish concepts, there was with new focus on the relationship between Nike's ability to captivate millions of consumers, and the thinking that  we - as individuals - should do the same.  The timing could not have been more perfect. Just after Peters' brought this idea forward, the nascent world of social media would begin to take hold (blogging or online personal journals would start gaining traction with the platform Blogger). It's interesting to look back and see just how prescient Tom Peters was, in a world where email was the most advanced form of technological communication the world was still trying to wrap its collective head around. "The same holds true for that other killer app of the Net -- email. When everybody has email and anybody can send you email, how do you decide whose messages you're going to read and respond to first -- and whose you're going to send to the trash unread? The answer: personal branding. The name of the email sender is every bit as important a brand -- is a brand -- as the name of the Web site you visit. It's a promise of the value you'll receive for the time you spend reading the message." Imagine how different Tom's thinking would have been if blogging, online social networks, podcasting, YouTube, and the smartphone were around back then. And, that's the real point here: I'm not sure if Tom (or you... or me) haven't muddled this valuable concept of the "personal brand" into something more like "personal advertising" (aka "inflating one's own tires"). A personal brand is not about how loud you shout or how many followers you have. Social media changed us. It changed who we are. It changed how we connect to another. It changed how we define fame. We live in a very strange world where individuals chase this idea of building a "personal brand" while sacrificing what their real personal brand is all about. Our lives should be about how we build relationships and add value to one another. This isn't about being anti-personal branding. There is no doubt that the world of social media has brought forward many new, fascinating and interesting voices that we may have never heard from if we were still stuck in the traditional media complex. Even old-school media professionals can have their own platforms and content amplified  to expand on ideas or stories that the bigger media channels don't cover. Big thumb's up to social media for facilitating so many voices to be heard. Still, many people chase a personal brand as if it's something that must be fabricated and promoted. They're focusing more on the antiquated definition of a "brand" and forgetting all about the "personal" part of it. Again, hunting likes, followers and shares over building anything of substance.  Personal branding is not a bad word. So, here's the thing: Personal branding is not bad, but personal branding should never be the reason why you are publishing. A strong personal brand is the outcome. Personal branding is like having a viral video. Many people will tell you that they know the secrets, strategies and how to build one, but the truth is that it can't simply be manufactured. If you create a strong video, it resonates, it gains distribution, and the timing works (dash a whole lot of luck on top of th[...]

7 Steps To Define Your Content Center Of Excellence

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 08:36:50 PST

"You're that social media guy, right?" I get that. The branding guy. The marketing guy. The tech guy. The media guy. The writer guy. The business book guy. The speaking guy. Depending on how people interface with me (and my content), my branding may vary. I may not love all of those titles, but it's a great insight into both how the world sees me (thanks for that, Sally Hogshead) and how they connect with the work that I do. With that, when asked what I do, it's easy to say that I "run a digital marketing agency called Mirum." It's easy to tell people that I am a writer, or a speaker. For me, it can be situational, and I'm not all that fussy about it, because it's all accurate. Many brands are focused on the one thing (and that can be important for an organization to find its differentiation). Of course, it is important to figure out the one thing that you do better than anyone else.   That one thing is actually created by figuring out how many things intersect. Here's my simple and fast process that I use to figure out what a true center of excellence is for content. Why do this? Focus. I want to ensure that whatever messaging that I produce, publish and promote ties back (as closely as possible) to my center of excellence. Use this quick 7-step methodology to build your own centre of excellence: Step #1: The Tactic. My tactic of primary output is content. Yours might be advertising, word of mouth referrals, networking, database marketing, etc... You don't have to stick with just one. Obviously, I deploy all tactics to grow the brand. Choosing a primary tactic gives focus. Content works for me, personally, because of my background in writing, journalism, media and communications. Step #2: The Format. My format is text and audio. You can choose just one. And, truthfully, my "one" would be text, but I do find myself producing more and more audio content. We live in a world where anyone can have an idea and share it - in text, images, audio and video - and distribute it - for free - to the world. This can be long-form, short-form, live/streaming or produced. This can be highly-produced or more off the cuff. My format of choice is long-form text (articles, business books, etc...) and long-form audio (a weekly podcast). Step #3: The Frequency. My frequency is daily for text and weekly for audio. I don't recommend such a frenetic pace, but I do recommend setting up a regular schedule, and doing everything in your power to stick with it. This is often the most highly-overlooked and mistreated part of the process. When brands fail at content, it's usually because they have not figured out a groove and flow, and consumers don't make the connection. Prior to the Internet, I was a much more voracious consumer of print magazines (had to be, there wasn't the selection that we have today online). I would often go to the corner store, and I could "feel" when the latest issue of Fast Company was due. It just "felt" like it had been about four weeks since the last issue. I often get feedback when the Six Pixels of Separation Podcast is published later in the day on Sunday. My listeners know that it's published early Sunday morning. When it's not there, they feel the gap and this weakens the brand. Frequency will not only keep you on schedule, it will be core to the brand experience.  Step #4: The Triangle of Attention. Visualize (or, better yet, draw) a triangle. For every point on the triangle choose one area of interest. My three areas of attention are: 1. Brands. 2. Consumers. 3. Technology. What does this mean? I will not produce, share or promote any content that doesn't (in some way) speak to all (or some) of these areas of attention. It can be only one area (even an idea that is loosely related to just one area), but the more points of the triangle that your content taps into, the more focused it will be. Choosing those three words is not as easy as it looks. If you're not sure how to get sta[...]

Quality And Speed Don't Have To Collide

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 12:50:50 PST

"Those are all great ideas, but we need something in market fast." It's the toughest part of the conversation, when you're in the marketing agency business. It's not a question of quality ideas over time, it's the erosion of the relationship and the business opportunity that this one sentence fosters. Candidly, when lines like this start being thrown around in conversations, it is the beginning of the end. And, how it affects the quality of the work is only the beginning. Being fast is important. Being fast is smart. Still, being fast can be a lot worse than good. And the two are not diametrically opposed. When work is done with this type of direction, a marketing agency simply can't win. The client is pushing something through due to internal pressures. The process then becomes strained. The conversations and work is not looked at in terms of market efficacy, but rather how quickly it can get reviewed and approved internally. The agency might get lucky. The work might take. More often than not, it fails. Then, on the brand side, management wants to know what happened, and the agency is blamed for sub-par work. That's the internal business side. Externally, more bad work is in market, and the work doesn't help the brand sell more goods and services. The internal brand team will lay blame on the agency output of the work, and not on the process that drove it. In the end, it's bad... all around.  Fast doesn't have to be "me too." One of the key lessons that I have seen - time and time again - after close to two decades in the agency business is that the preliminary ideas are, typically, "me too" ideas. Brands are trying to keep pace - or be seen in the same vein - as their competitors, so they are responding (speed) with something (not an original idea). This "let's just get it done and figure out how to improve on it later on," may "feel" right in the moment, but it never takes. It never takes, because the speed of the "me too" campaign doesn't work, and nobody wants to throw good money after bad money. It's bad business. And, someone needs to take the fall for the failure (that's usually the agency partner).  Quality and speed don't have to collide. The other issue, is that there is often an misconception that one idea might take longer to manifest and execute on. This is particularly true when one side already has a loosely thought-out idea in place (i.e.: "let's do what Nike did, but our way."). There are so many moving parts in the brand and agency relationship. It's easy to make statements like the one above with broad strokes. Of course, this isn't always the case. Of course, there are many more instances of great and mutually respecting partnerships. Still, this idea of doing something simply and quickly (a lesson that has been driven by senior leadership after studying the way of Silicon Valley) may not realistically apply to the marketing industry. Yes, the idea of a MVP (minimal viable product) can help ideas move from prototype to marketplace with amazing speed. Yes, this idea can help brands get a sense of market acceptance, consumer needs and the general excitement about a new product or service. Still, I'm willing to question that methodology when it's applied to a marketing platform and campaign. Consumers won't - necessarily - be able to get beyond a bad brand impression or brand experience with the thinking that the execution was a MVP, and it will improve on the next go-around. Too many brand leaders confuse a marketing campaign with a new product or service. They are not the same thing. Do things fast. Do things well. Don't sacrifice one for the other. Tags: advertising agency advertising campaign agency business agency partner brand brand agency relationship brand experience brand impression brand management brand story business blog cons[...]

The Interoperability Of Things (And Brands)

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 05:32:07 PST

What makes a product or service really work? For years, you could only text message someone who was on the same carrier. For years, there were MP3 players that required a whole bunch of hardware and multiple software solutions to make everything work. Currently, if you want to see the true Internet of Things in action (home automation, etc...) it takes many different kinds of hardwares, softwares and hacks to pull it all together. In short: if it's confusing, hard and challenging, you may get the early adopters (and hackers) to play along, but mass appeal can seem like eons away. This is also the current situation for virtual and augmented reality. Many people (wrongly) assume that all of this is akin to the VHS or Beta wars. Which big platform will win? It's not. Both video platforms were easy to buy, install, use and integrate with your daily life. Apple didn't need to invent to the MP3 player, but the iPod was (without question) easy to buy, install, use and integrate with your daily life. Once text messages became cross-carrier (in Canada), usage exploded. Look at most technologies. In the early days of home computers, they were bought in pieces - by multiple hardware vendors - and required (serious) technical skill to install and work. Now, take someone with no computer literacy and give them an iPad. It takes no time for them to be up and running. iPads don't even have instruction manuals. It's easy to think that mass technology adoption is strictly related to the price point. It's true that new technology always has a high price barrier that makes it restrictive to a lot of people. Still, we do know that price is not usually the thing that keeps people away (remember the long lines of people looking to buy a $900 iPhone?). Think about the luxury goods or culture-based fashion brands. People will pay a premium for brands. At the end of last year, Technology Review published the article, Behind the Numbers of Virtual Reality's Sluggish Debut: "The numbers do not exactly tell the story of a hot new consumer technology debut. By the end of 2016, 800,000 PlayStation VR units were expected to have sold, according to the research firm Canalys, along with about 500,000 HTC Vive and 400,000 Oculus Rift headsets. By comparison, Apple sold 3.3 million iPhones during the six months they were available in 2007 (the phone's debut year), according to Gartner. Sales rose to 11.4 million in 2008." Maybe it is too early. Maybe it is not too early. When a technology (or a product or a service) hits that Gladwellian Tipping Point, it's not due to a price break. I would argue that if you are in the business of a new technology, product or service (or trying to reinvigorate one that has been sluggish in market), think about the true interoperability of it. Think about virtual reality, augmented reality and the Internet of Things. Regardless of price point, I would argue that if the technology had seamless interoperability (meaning that it works effortlessly on currently adopted platforms and applications) that the usage would sore. Of course, it's no surprise that the Internet of Things, AR and VR felt a little muted at this passed week's big CES show in Vegas. Of course, it's no surprise that the big winner was Amazon's Alexa. Voice is something that easily and obviously connects and integrates with the platforms that most people are currently using. Voice will win the day. With that, we should not dismiss VR, AR, the Internet of Things and other technologies just because they're not barn-burning hot out of the gate. Watch and see what Facebook does to integrate their VR platform (Oculus) within the current Facebook experience. Watch that space, precisely, to see how powerful the interoperability must be for a brand to really find momentum and lift. The closer Facebook gets their newsfeed to Oculus, the quicker we will see VR adoption.   There [...]

A More Elegant Question About The Future Of Retail

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 14:37:05 PST

2017 is starting out with some ugly news on the retail front. Admittedly, it was a strange moment for me. On the one hand, there were many disturbing pieces of news on the retail front, about department store giants Sears and Macy's. On the other hand, I spent time at many large retail spaces in Florida over the Holiday season, and could not believe the amount people, line-ups, difficulty in finding parking and general happiness of crowds that the local shopping malls, some big box retailers and even some massive outlet campuses were experiencing. I'm no fan of the "Market Of One", but it was hard to not be perplexed by these two divergent experiences that were happening at the same time.  Let's get up to retail speed with some of the news via Business Insider: A giant wave of store closures is about to hit the US. Macy's is closing 100 stores - here's where they will likely shut down. Inside Sears' death spiral: How an iconic American brand has been driven to the edge of bankruptcy. Plus you can grab their free retail report: The Future Of Retail 2016. Go ahead, take a look at those links... I will wait for you. Everyone wants to know what is happening. Many will blame digital transformation, the growth of e-commerce and even directly point the finger at Amazon. It's not about that. It's about access. Access is an important concept that many of these brick and mortar retailers are not thinking about. Worse, they're probably taking it for granted, because they had it for so long. What purpose did these massive retailers provide, as they paved over (and through) the mom and pop shops that lined Main Street in the average American city as our civilization evolved? These big brands came in and offered a larger selection of products at a cheaper price. Because of their size, they were able to negotiate more powerful real estate deals, price push on their suppliers, and develop more intricate supply chain logistics. In short, they enabled consumers to have access to more products at cheaper prices. Online commerce destroys that. Period. End of sentence. If you spend some time with that Business Insider The Future Of Retail 2016 report, you will see one thing: while e-commerce is still very small, in relation to in-store retail, nearly all growth in the retail industry is coming from online sales. More access, more variances in pricing and more. That "more" also happens to be an ever-growing digital consumer. So, what is the new "access"... and why should your brand care?  Whether you're a retailer or not, you need to understand what these consumers are now looking for. They do not go to a shopping mall, an outlet complex or a big box store for access to products and prices. They can - in effect - get that anywhere (and this includes online... and on their smartphones). The new "access" is service, convenience and experience. In my "market of one" holiday shopping experience, people weren't strolling through the mall looking for the best price. People were there to have an experience. To be around other people. To show off their clothes... whatever. When they were shopping, they were not looking forward to long lines at the cash. When they were shopping, there were looking for better service (something that is non-existent - for the most part - online) and, because they were at the physical store, convenience (meaning: "how easy is this retailer making it for me to buy it now, instead of buying this stuff on my iPhone, and having it show up at my house, so I don't have to carry it around with me now?").  Brands needs to think more about creating this "access" for their consumers (whether they are retailers or not). Price and selection have become a commodity, because of the online channel and globalization of business and access to information. Look at the state of retail. Think about your brand. What is y[...]

Beyond Advertising With Catharine Hays - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 05:10:38 PST

Episode #548 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. What comes after advertising? Is there anything after advertising? How will a $500-plus billion dollar a year industry evolve? This is the question that Catharine Hays (along with her co-author, Jerry Wind) tried to tackle in their book, Beyond Advertising - Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints. Catharine is the founding Director of the Future of Advertising Program at the Wharton School. The program is trying to bridge the academic and real world to create a better advertising environment. Don't let that fool you, Catharine held many positions in B2B marketing at AT&T for over a decade. So, is there a future beyond advertising? Enjoy the conversation... You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast #548. Tags: advertising advertising podcast att audio b2b marketing beyond advertising blog blogging brand branding business blog business book business podcast business thinker catharine hays david usher digital marketing digital marketing agency digital marketing blog facebook future of advertising program google iTunes j walter thompson jerry wind jwt leadership podcast management podcast marketing marketing blog marketing podcast mirum mirum agency mirum agency blog mirum blog social media twitter wharton school wpp yoram wind [...]

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #342

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 11:34:04 PST

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see? My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see". Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another:  Future List - The Information. "Jessica Lessin's The Information may become the gift I give myself this holiday season. They've worked out the fine balance between private analyst firm and shareable newsletter. And they do great stuff -- like this (not blocked) interactive listing of the most forward-thinking VC firms. Good in part because of its criteria and visualization." (Alistair for Hugh). 10 Hot Consumer Trends - Ericsson. "This is a decent roundup of the tech that will consume us in the coming year. The short version? Ubiquitous sensing, backed by AI that works on behalf of consumers rather than on them, and a merging of physical and virtual worlds. Breathlessly hyped, or chasm-crossing good? I guess we have a year to find out." (Alistair for Mitch). World War Three, By Mistake - The New Yorker. "I need to start reading some more cheery things, but in the meantime: here's an article about how close we've been to nuclear annihilation, and how we're probably closer than ever now. Happy New Year!" (Hugh for Alistair). Nobel Prize-Winning Economist, Joseph Stiglitz, Explains The Key Factor That's Tearing Europe Apart - Inc. "Very clear overview of the (shockingly) simple economic forces that are pulling apart the European Union and its common currency." (Hugh for Mitch). How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs - Nautilus. "And you thought it was all fun and games! I read this article, and realized that my jaw needed to be lifted up off of the floor on multiple occasions. In short: it's not about the video game... it's about being who we truly are. Yes, video games help us to fulfill our most basic of human needs. Powerful stuff." (Mitch for Alistair). Dirty Money - Scientific American. "Is money making you sick? I'm not talking about a lack of it... I am talking about whatever cash you are carrying around in your wallet. What if I told you that money is quickly becoming a public health hazard. Would you believe me? Well, it's a huge/global pandemic. Let's go cashless, shall we?" (Mitch for Hugh). Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play. Tags: advertising agency alistair croll amazon bit current bit north book a futurists manifesto brand business blog complete web monitoring digital marketing digital marketing agency digital marketing blog ericsson facebook gigot hugh mcguire human 20 iambic inc magazine j walter thompson jessica lessin joseph stiglitz jwt lean analytics librivox link bait link exchange link sharing managing bandwidth marketing marketing agency marketing blog mirum mirum agency mirum agency blog mirum blog mirum canada mirum in canada mitch joel mitchjoel nautilus press books scientific american six pixels of separation social media solve for interesting the info[...]

Media Files:

Find Your Brand's Content Marketing Groove

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 11:26:51 PST

You have to know who your content resonates with. When you know this, you need to burrow deep and keep delivering. This is why content marketing will continue to struggle for brands. Brands are being sold a false bill of goods. Brands believe that the more content they produce, the more people that it will connect with... and it will grow from there. There's an old adage that took hold in the early days of social media that seems to have been lost on those that have twisted these digital publishing platforms to act like more traditional media. Now, it's all about how many likes, shares and new eyeballs this stuff gets. Back then, it was all about "who" not "how many" people your content was connecting with. If you really want to better understand how social media became a paid channel, that's where to start. Look at the transition in social media from the "who" model to a "how many." The paradox of growth.  Growth and audience is a drug. Once you have a taste, it becomes an addiction. Chasing that dragon leads many to a place where their work no longer resonates. Trying to appeal to more and more people - in broader and different arenas - usually leads us to a place where trying to appeal to everybody makes it appealing to nobody. The magic of these digital and social channels was that I was (finally) able to uncover, build and connect with an audience that had a specific interest in how brands were going to transform because of technology. When I first started publishing about this intersection (2003-ish), I thought I was one of a very small and nerdy group. As Six Pixels of Separation started to take hold, it became clear that all of us (the creators and the consumers) were finally finding our tribes. Now, a list of the top 20 marketing podcasts can come out, and Six Pixels of Separation won't even make the cut. Does that hurt my feelings? Sure it does. But, it also makes me smile to see just how much this niche has evolved. Every year that I attend HubSpot's Inbound event, I look around and marvel at the tens of thousand of people in attendance. I then think back to how these events used to be held in a small hotel ballroom with a few hundred attendees, not all that long ago. When you focus on the niche, you can still find a mass audience.  Yesterday, we published episode #25 of Groove - The No Treble podcast. This podcast is about as niche as you can get. Once a month, I do a Six Pixels of Separation Podcast-like long-form conversation with some of the world's most respected bass players. Now entering into its third year, this passion project of mine's goal is to build the largest oral history of electric bass players. While the content is niche, there is still a lot of content about these celebrities available in other media formats. Our content and format is very different, and it's working. Why Groove? Most of the content about these musicians revolves around gear, playing techniques, and more technical chatter. For me, bassists are creative artists with stories to tell... stories that have not been told. It's a small but mighty form of content delivered by audio podcast. It is laser-focused, and it's not looking for a viral hit. Slowly - over time - and through consistently building it, it is gaining in listenership, industry respect and finding a groove of its own.  Finding your groove. Finding your audience.  What makes episode #25 of Groove - The No Treble Podcast so interesting for me, is how this show brings my worlds of brands connecting through technology and this kind of music together. Have you ever heard of Zander Zon? Even if you don't know his music, he should be studied by all business professionals who are thinking about how to make their own content connect. Zander has used YouTube in a very fascin[...]

The Medium Is/Is Not The Message

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 11:10:38 PST

Finding the right place to get your content to resonate has never been easier. Still, finding the right place for your content to resonate has never been harder. Let's go back. Let's go way back. In the late eighties, I was a journalist (though, I always preferred the title "music writer", I felt that the title of "journalist" was a little too pompous for the work that I was doing). This was long before connectivity, as it is today. Fax machines were still nascent and hardly being used by publishers, journalists and companies. Pitching stories to be published was a brutal affair of rejection. In fact being rejected was welcomed, compared to the usual radio silence. Pitching a story back then was the social equivalent to being ghosted these days. Just nothing back. When social media took hold - the early days of Blogger and Movable Type - it changed everything for me. The ability to use one of these online publishing platforms was - in the purest sense of the word - transformational. I could write, edit and publish my ideas (in text, images, audio and video) for free, to the world. Yes, literally "the world." My content could reach everyone online, by simply publishing it. No more gatekeepers (as Seth Godin calls them), no more editors deciding which articles go where (and how long/what it should say). This was long before anybody really understood the power of viral content, and just how connected and shareable great content could be. Now, it's close to 20 years later and blogging is nothing more than publishing.  The unique qualifiers that made something a blog post over an article is gone. Blogs used to be different because they were personalized (like an online journal), on a blog platform, RSS feeds, comments, etc... Now, there is nothing that distinguishes a blog post from an article these days. That's fine. One of the true innovators of publishing is Ev Williams. Ev was behind that first Blogger platform. He then went on to help launch Twitter. If that were not enough, he then launched Medium. For years, Medium bounced around with what it was. For me, Medium always felt like a more independent Huffington Post. You could leverage the growing Medium brand, without investing in your own publishing platform, and the Medium brand didn't have a political slant or a brand that over-shadowed that of the writer's.  More recently, Medium became more and more exciting.  As a writer, I am constantly looking for places to publish. Recently, the growth, tools and sharing capabilities made Medium a formidable platform. It was - almost - like having your own publishing platform, while leveraging a bigger brand, and the readership of other - more established - writers. It became clear that posts on Medium got more traction, attention, readership and reaction than the articles posted on a standalone blog (like Six Pixels of Separation). Medium seemed like one of the better places to publish your words.  Now, Ev and the Medium team are rethinking the platform.  It's not because the content is strained. If anything, the quality and value of the content on Medium has only increased, and become more interesting (if you don't believe me, you should sign up and get their e-newsletter. It is filled with really smart voices). Today, for Medium, the problem seems to be the business model. It's the trouble with publishing today. No matter what forms of content monetization the team at Medium has tried, nothing has really worked and - with what has worked - it didn't seem like a long-term strategy. In short: the content is working great, but the advertising is not.  The real problem with publishing.  People often comment that the trouble with newspapers was that they did not digitize fast enough and/or they gave t[...]

Smart Brands Will Create Their Own Digital Products And Services

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 11:38:15 PST

Marketing is so much more than advertising. One of the bigger ideas (and evolutions) in marketing that I covered in my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete (which was published in 2013), was the idea of utilitarianism marketing. The fact is that marketing dollars don't have to (only) go to advertising. Now - because of digital - all brands have the ability to develop and create real and functional tools for their consumers. Yes, these can be apps. Yes, these can be publications. The greater thought here, was that brands are in the nascent days of being able to create and sell digital products and services to better market themselves, and better connect themselves with consumers.  The original thought. Let's say you're a retailer. Let's say that you've embraced e-commerce. The models are still similar. Whatever you could buy in the store, you can now shop online. This is great. This is profound. This is (still) the future. Now - more than ever - most businesses (small, medium, large, B2B and B2C) need some kind of e-commerce strategy in place (even if it's simply ordering, instead of purchasing). With that, if you are a retailer - and you have put some kind of digital commerce model in place - why would you not start developing and selling adjunct digital products and services? Macy's is still selling you physical goods online. What if they had some kind of great digital fashion app? What if they provided a Netflix-like model for certain types of valuable content? Fine, these may not be the best ideas, but the point is salient. The opportunity is clear. Consumers - more than ever - are buying digital products and services.  How many new devices do you think were purchased and gifted over the last holiday season? Computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, wearables and more. There's a reason why some of the more popular posts in places like cnet and Business Insider are articles with titles like, "The 20 Must-Have Apps For Your New iPhone." This is, precisely, what consumers are looking for. The timing could not be more perfect for brands to have (some kind of) digital products and services in place.  Amazon is a model of excellence. Without missing a beat, Amazon created their own, exclusive holiday sales event on December 30th called, Amazon Digital Day. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now... Digital Day? Why not attempt to recreate the enthusiasm that comes with these super-special commerce events for only digital products? Amazon wound up discounting over one thousand digital items. It's not only a great way to encourage post-holiday spending, it's the type of sale that doesn't need to stress over inventory (it's unlimited!), fulfillment (the servers need to stay up, while the humans and robots can take a break from picking and packing) and more. Consumers got a whole bunch of new devices, so now they can fill them up with not only apps, games, movies, programs and music, but also digital subscriptions to online media properties... on the cheap. This was a brilliant play for Amazon and a sign of what's to come at retail and for brands.    So smart. So ready for other brands to replicate. The challenge, of course, is that most brands are still struggling with how to make their digital experience more aligned with consumer's current expectations (native, mobile-first). It's not just about having a responsive experience anymore. Consumers are used to swiping right and flicking their thumbs to get what they want. The opportunity seems boundless. Brands need to study what Amazon did by developing Digital Day, and they need to unpack and experiment with digital models for themselves. No, most brands won't be able to hold their own Digital Day, but the thinking need[...]

Programmatic Advertising Creative. Winter Is Coming.

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 04:25:36 PST

Software eats the world. Statements like that are all fine and dandy, until they start hitting a little too close to home. Software is knocking on the door of the advertising world, and many are none-too happy about it. While programmatic buying continues to be a hotly discussed topic in the advertising world (here's my none-to-subtle take on it: Display Advertising Is A Failed State), there seems to be more motion in the marketing technology and ad tech space for programmatic creative. Yes, you read that right: programmatic creative. Instead of having teams of smart creative types develop the best creative possible for a brand campaign, let's allow the computers to figure out the message, how to personalize it and deliver it to the consumer. If you layer programmatic creative on top of programmatic buying, what does the future hold for advertising? Recently, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled, The Process of Making Digital Ads is Gradually Starting to Become More 'Programmatic', that looked at some of the fledging startups that have generated significant venture capital interest in this space. They also looked at Flite, which was acquired by Snap (Snapchat) recently, as further proof that this is where our world is headed. It's easy to see how the current uses of programmatic creative are being deployed - and why this is happening. Hint: it's mostly doing the creative automation work for the retargeting process. It goes something like this: A consumer searches for something online, instead of that data being fed to an agency to produce an ad, the technology enables a way for a simple/templated ad to then follow that consumer all over the web (charmed, I'm sure). The more personalized these ads (mention of the product, brand and image), the more likelihood that a future purchase will happen (at least this is what the retargeting and analytics professionals are telling us). What if programmatic creative delivers on its promise?  Branding - as we know it - is going to change if programmatic creative gets momentum. We used to talk about brands and advertising within the realm of the "big idea." The big idea is that each brand should have one big statement that it stands for. This idea that each ad campaign should have one big statement that it stands for in the marketplace. Has this way of thinking become way too traditional for our modern world? Should a brand (and an ad) tell the same story to their entire audience? Should a brand (and an ad) have one unique big idea, or is that old-school thinking? What happens in a world where programmatic creative becomes a real platform, and the technology to deliver all kinds of different messages to different people if viable? Does this make advertising more effective, while making the brand sentiment whatever is needed - in the moment - to make a sale? That's something - serious - to think about. There is a lot to fear about programmatic creative. The human side is the easiest part for us to fear. The idea that no computer brain can be more creative than a human brain. The idea that no computer will ever be able to write a song that brings tears to our eyes, a movie treatment that moves us, the next great novel, or the next brilliant tagline. We don't want to believe that a computer can replace the human condition. Humans will know when it's another human, and creativity is something that we have cornered the market on. This part, I am not so sure about, but it's still (mostly) the stuff of science fiction. What's really nerve-wracking, as you explore the current world of programmatic creative, is how it hollows out the value of a brand. In fact, if you flick through the myriad of sta[...]

My 3 Words For 2017

Mon, 02 Jan 2017 11:14:27 PST

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017. What's your plan? It's the second day of the new year, and you are already stressing out... aren't you? (Maybe I'm just projecting). You've set up your resolutions. You've got your goals in place. Maybe you've even created a moodboard for your office to visualize, or you blocked off some time every day on your calendar to meditate. I did what I normally do: I put a little bit of time aside to choose my three words that will define my 2017. Only three words? Every year, Chris Brogan does an exercise he calls, My 3 Words For The Year. Brogan explains it like this: "In an effort to tell bigger stories, I've found that the concept of three words allows me to think in more dimensions about what I want to do with my life and it lets me apply lots of tangible goals instead of what most people do when they focus on just a finite task. It's a bit like turbo-charged goal planning." Going public (again). I've been doing this exercise ever since Chris first introduced it (I think it was back in 2006?). Each year, around December - without prompting - I find myself starting to think about my three words. The pressure is on. It's a good pressure, but it's pressure. Especially with the year that I just had. All of us hope to do more, be more and achieve more. Nailing it down to three words is always a welcome challenge. This year, I have decided to make them public (as I have done for the past few years), in the hopes that you will be encouraged to take this exercise on, and share it with the world as well. So, here's goes everything... My 3 Words For 2017: Next. What's next? About halfway through this year, I had some meetings with my speaking agents. As the years peel off, it's easy for them to make assumptions about the type of presentations (and audiences) that my content is best suited for. When I started out in that business (over a decade ago), I was known as the "personal brand" speaker. This quickly evolved into the "social media" speaker, and this (kind of) evolved into the "digital marketing" speaker. None of those are "off," but they're not the full scope of what I do. Plus, if a brand calls my bureau and asks for a speaker who can talk about "what's next in business and consumer behavior," I'm often not thought of, because these agents are still thinking "personal branding", "social media", etc... This year, I'm going to have them (and my content) focus on what it's really about: what's next? (And what's now!). Also, the new tagline/mission for Mirum (our agency) is "let's make what's next." I love the line... I love the sentiment. This year, "next" is going to be where I put my focus and energy. From the content that you read here, to the thinking for clients to the stuff you can expect me to say from the stage.  Connect. I've been deeply depressed about the state of social media. Everything that was written in The Cluetrain Manifesto back in 1999 came to be (some of the thinking is still evolving, and will come true in the coming years). That is the best part. With that, the social media space evolved so quickly, that it also became highly monetized by advertising. The monetization has created giant new media companies (take a look at Facebook, Google, Snapchat, etc...). These social spaces, where real human beings could have real interactions has become a "pay to play" arena. You could have millions of followers, but now, you have to boost, pay and advertise for your online voice to get heard. Social media is a paid media channel channel. It's easy to just accept this and turn all of your content into an ad. I'm going to ignore this. Seriously. I'm going to go back to the days when I[...]

Fresh Business Thinking With Seth Godin - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Sun, 01 Jan 2017 04:19:03 PST

Episode #547 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. Well, that was a pretty insane 2016, wasn't it? And, not just from a political standpoint (but, yes, that too). In an effort to change mindsets, think differently about 2017 and get some insights that may spark a change in your thinking, Seth Godin agreed to come on the show, and talk about where he sees the world, where the opportunity lies and how to think about this coming year with optimism (or, as he calls it, realism). Seth just published a monster of a book. Yes, big ideas (that's what he does), but this time he packed it into an even bigger format. The book is hefty. What Does It Sound Like When You Change Your Mind is a huge collection of Seth's writing. 800 pages, over-sized, and over-weight. I'd call it a collectible coffee table book, but I'm worried it will crush the average coffee table to bits. As always, Seth is philosophical, practical and a ray of light and prosperity. Enjoy the conversation... You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast #547. Tags: advertising advertising podcast altmba audio author bestseller blog blogging brand branding business blog business book business podcast business thinker david usher digital marketing digital marketing agency digital marketing blog facebook google iTunes j walter thompson jwt leadership podcast management podcast marketing marketing blog marketing podcast mirum mirum agency mirum agency blog mirum blog seth godin social media twitter udemy what does it sounds like when you change your mind wpp [...]

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #341

Sat, 31 Dec 2016 04:16:03 PST

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see? My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see". Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another:  Coal Is Dying - Coal Country Doesn't Have To: Creating The Post-Coal Economy In Appalachia - Fast Company. "We need more reporting like this. Done by people who are from the communities in which they report, talking about the future and inevitable changes, and focused on making a transition rather than protesting the inevitable. A good, long, personal read into the heartbreaking circumstances in the Rural East." (Alistair for Hugh). Inside Amazon's clickworker platform: How half a million people are being paid pennies to train AI - TechRepublic. "First, I love the gerrymandering of terminology right there in the title. Proponents call systems where computers put people to work ' crowdsourcing' or ' urking' or 'the wisdom of the crowds'. Detractors probably use terms like 'clickworkers' -- what could be more dehumanizing? But the reality is that every time you help a computer, you're hastening your own demise by teaching it. That's true whether you're playing a game with Google's AI (and teaching it to better recognize images) or doing clickwork for Amazon's Mechanical Turk. This is a fascinating, fact-packed piece that sounds right out of a William Gibson novel." (Alistair for Mitch). What the Octopus Knows - The Atlantic. "The octopus is, I think, the most fascinating animal on the planet. I keep sending links about  octopi, and here is another one." (Hugh for Alistair). 'Profitable' Washington Post adding more than five dozen journalists - Politico. "Good news in the world of journalism business models is hard to find, but since Jeff Bezos took over the Washington Post, things are looking up. Readership is growing. The paper is, apparently, profitable. And, it's adding staff, a remarkable thing these days." (Hugh for Mitch). The Argument Against Terraforming Mars - Nautilus. "These past few years, we've heard, read and seen a lot about the planet Mars. 'We should go there,' seems to be the general consensus. Everyone from NASA to private industry is trying to figure it out. Tesla's Elon Musk really wants us to be the first multi-planetary species (to our knowledge). We can go there and build a better... here, I guess. This is a smart look at why we should think twice about trying to populate Mars. TL;DR: we don't do these things well and we don't have the right, apparently." (Mitch for Alistair). 5 Top Designers Own How To Create The Ultimate PowerPoint Presentation - Fast Company. "This article glances over some of the better/more in-depth thinking of people like Nancy Duarte, when it comes to presentations. It happens all too often: professionals pump up slides with everything they're trying to say, while totally forgetting the whole point of a presentation, in the first place. You're there - as a presenter - to share content. No one will be able to share this message, if it's cluttered, unprofessional and not presented well. Seems basic enough, but strong presentation skills are still one of the more ra[...]

When Technology Knows More Than You

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 12:34:49 PST

What really gets you excited about technology? Personally, it's one simple (yet complex) thing: technology blows my mind when it knows (and does) more than a human ever could. Maybe this is why stuff like YouTube, Twitter, etc... never really blew me away. Streaming videos online or following people in 120 characters or less... not exactly stuff we didn't see/imagine before. Not exactly transformative technology. Sure, it's lots of smarts, and it's two types of online technologies that I love deeply, but it never got me excited. Had either of those platforms not gained traction and an audience, it would not have surprised me. The technology that is "transformative" (as I would define it) is when it does something that no human could do/think/act on.  That's the promise of Big Data. Professionals often confuse lots of data for big data. The promise of big data was this: the ability for technology to take multiple data sets and manipulate them at a rate and pace that would never be humanly possible. If that was all, it would be impressive... but that's not all. Then, the technology would be able to provide insights and opportunities that no human could have never surmised. To me, that's mind-blowing. To me, that's what's exciting about technology. The promise of self-driving cars. Many people tell me that they are very worried about being a passenger is a self-driving car. I used to feel like that. Not anymore. Candidly, I can't wait for all of you to be off of the road. Seriously. Years ago, I was fortunate enough to be a passenger is one of Google's first self-driving cars on a public road with non-Googlers. It was a truly transformative experience. I went from, "there's no way I trust a computer/Google with driving me anywhere," to, "how soon can we get all humans off of the road?"  Why did this happen? Quite simply: the computer removed human emotion and experience from driving. It doesn't get tired. It's never "in a mood." Its doesn't get distracted by things like the radio, a text message, a fight with the kids, or a squirrel. The technology was doing so many things at once, that it was - in a word - overwhelming. Couple that with the fact that the onboard sensors are able to read the world around it, at a much greater distance than the human eye can see (miles/kilometers into the distance) and you can imagine the power. It transforms everything we think we know about getting from one place to another. It transforms everything we think we know about roads, infrastructure, traffic, lights, logistics and so much more. I know... I know... it's not perfect, and it's not ready for prime time, but it's coming. As Futurist Kevin Kelly likes to say, "the future happens very slowly and then all at once." Watch technology do something miraculous. There's a viral video making the rounds now. It shows a Tesla vehicle initiating its front-collision warning alert. This technology not only alerts the driver, but it also brakes the car - a full second before a collision ahead of the vehicle even happens. It's both terrifying to watch and - at the same time - a miracle of modern technology. Would the driver have braked had the technology not been in place? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Would the technology have hit the brakes in a million other scenarios just like this one? Probably... without fail. This is what makes technology great. There is a new world of possibilities when technology knows more than you.  width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Tags: 120 charac[...]

If Your Agency Is Not Consulting, Then What Is It Doing?

Thu, 29 Dec 2016 10:51:33 PST

For marketing agencies to survive, they must start looking more like the consultants. This is one of the bigger themes that seems to be cropping up lately in the marketing industry. It's happening for a bunch of reasons. There is a large push from brands to develop in-house marketing capabilities. This is not only a smart move, but a strategic one as well. For years, marketing was seen not as a profit centre, but an expense. Marketing was the place where the business went to spend its dollars on getting attention and acquiring customers (beyond sales). Now, it seems like many businesses are (rightfully) following the sage thinking of management legend, Peter Drucker: "Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two-and only two-basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business." While Drucker didn't say this yesterday (it happened long before then... around 1954), businesses are realizing just how important marketing is, and how - when done right - it can be the difference between a commodity brand and something that looks a little closer to Apple. So, what value does the marketing agency bring to the mix? There is no doubt that the marketing business is facing challenges. There is no doubt that agencies are faced with mass consolidation, as the major holding companies need to feed their engines of growth (look now further than us. Our agency, Twist Image, was acquired by the largest holding company, WPP, in 2014 and rebranded as Mirum in 2015). Our reasoning was driven by a competitive marketplace, and the need to add products, services, geography and more to ensure a future of growth and innovation. In this world of consolidation, the major accounting/consulting firms (Accenture, Deloitte, etc...) have begun to offer marketing and communications services, while also acquiring several agencies to bulk up at speed. Those who have been exposed to both sides of the consulting and agency space are keen to have these ad agencies look much more like consulting operations. This begs the question: were agencies not offering consultative services before? Some might argue that the difference is that consultants offer business solutions that results in serious business growth, while agencies have been relegated to providing production and media services that only create a place where attention is served. Some might argue that a consultancy is about the people that the brand hires, while agencies have been relegated to the things that the brand is buying. What's missing is another truism: consultants tend to be led, hired and directly engaged with the CEO, while agencies tend to (sometimes) work the CMO or - more likely - a director/manager level professional in the marketing department. Consultants have such broad scopes of work, that being able to "produce" and not just "tell" a brand what they should be doing is a logical and strategic business play, as these massive consulting firms also need to show growth and future-revenue opportunities.  Agencies have always been consultants. Maybe not every agency, but the better ones (that most of us know, love and respect). The better agencies have always supplied brands with the right people, able to not only do the work, but have the experience from previously working with a competitor, or working on a brand that sells to a similar audience. Agencies have been working (tirelessly) to invest in their people, teams [...]

Math Is Hard... Or How To Make Your Advertising Count

Wed, 28 Dec 2016 11:05:27 PST

At what point will advertisers hold the publishers really accountable? Those who were early into digital marketing had many hopes (like me). That advertising would be highly targeted and relevant. The net effect of this would be that online advertising would not only be better than other media formats, but that it would be worth more to advertisers, because consumers would appreciate it more. That advertising would be super-accountable and measurable. The net effect of this would be that online advertising would know where ads were served, what happened to those who saw, clicked and engaged with the ad. We would know this down to each and every impression. That advertising would be more interesting. The net effect of this would be that online advertising would not just appear on three television networks (like we had back in the day), but that there would be thousands of publishers with niche and unique content that could foster an ecosystem, where both diversity of content and relevant ads could live side by side.  Wow... how did so much go so wrong? Yesterday, I wrote about how the dream of targeting and relevance has taken shape (check out: Display Advertising Is A Failed State). Now, we're in an even-more precarious situation, where advertisers shifted dollars from a world of three major television networks, down to a place where the vast majority of online advertising spending is happening in (primarily) two places: Google and Facebook. With that, many believed that from a technology standpoint, it would be hard (maybe impossible) to put systems in place better than these two Silicon Valley behemoths. Groups like the IAB (full disclosure: I sat on the board of directors for IAB Canada many years back) could create some form of industry standard, in terms of ad serving, ad formats, etc... Well, it seems like we're living in a world where Facebook had mis-reported how much time users were spending watching videos, then an issue with overall video performance, then engagement numbers for links and live videos, then problems with traffic to Instant Articles and some other measurement challenges. A few days back, Twitter came forward and admitted that their Android app overstated video advertising metrics by as much as 35% due to a technical error. These were not the only instances, and these all happened in this past year. Don't worry, advertisers. From my view at this keyboard, it didn't seem like the advertising community pushed back all that hard against these two media publishers. And, while Facebook has launched third-party verification and viewability initiatives, it does beg the question: who will really be watching and - more importantly - what does an advertiser do, in a world where they have limited choices for where to put their ads? Advertisers and media companies don't have the technological infrastructure to develop/be smarter than the Googles and Facebooks of the world and, ultimately, need them (maybe more than ever) to help the brands that they represent to reach a significant online audience. Math is hard.  There is no doubt that this is a complex world of advertising, and that many of us never saw these problems coming. It's easy to look at the Internet, these major online players and think, "just get it right!" Many won't remember that the Internet was not built to be an engine of commerce. If has, slowly, become this over the last decade and a half. It's not perfect. It is evolving. Still, it was never meant to do the things that we are expecting it to do thes[...]

Display Advertising Is A Failed State

Wed, 28 Dec 2016 10:10:48 PST

Display advertising has a huge problem. It's all going to come to head in 2017. There is only so long that this charade can go on. When someone says that the 30-second spot is dead or that television advertising (or newspaper advertising... or radio advertising) is dying because of online advertising, they could not be more incorrect. On one hand, the smart advertisers are finding a tremendous amount of value in certain online/digital advertising channels (think about search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, email marketing, specific targeting capabilities on Facebook, being smart with YouTube pre-rolls, etc...). On the other hand, the idea that any form of traditional advertising is going to be dead because of online advertising (mostly banners... or display advertising) is simply not true.  Display advertising has failed the advertising industry. Back in October 2010, I posted an article titled, The Web Has Failed Advertising. Here's my thinking (from way back when)... "The web has not failed advertising. Advertising has failed the web. Let's tweak my last turn of the phrase: advertising - as we have known it to date - has failed the web. Bad, boring and interruption-based advertising always struggled to capture mindshare. Traditional marketers beat that reality through frequency and repetition (in layman's terms: shoving more of it, more frequently, down our collective gullets). More modern online advertisers not only followed that tactic, but they also cluttered the pages with multiple messages in multiple sizes in a very primitive way (low quality images and creative to ensure speedier downloads). We did it to ourselves, really. When those models began to fail, we switched the name of 'banner advertising' to 'display advertising,' as if that turn of the phrase would make brands (and consumers) forget the big promise of online advertising: that consumers will take action and click on your highly relevant and targeted ads. The truth is that there is a lot more to online advertising than just those little square boxes that surround every piece of content we see online. In fact, search advertising (the kind that Google mastered) hasn't failed the web at all. Email marketing has not failed the web (well, spam has, but that's another story for another post). Affiliate marketing works great too." Fast forward to today: there is still tons of money being poured into display advertising. More than ever, in fact. Programmatic was supposed to provide something unique to advertisers: more precise targeting, better inventory, more options, way better pricing... and much more, all through the power of computers, automation and an auction-based system that would give advertisers a level of control, mass inventory and more. In essence, remove the humans, increase the automation, layer in some nascent machine learning, and a whole new world of inventory would be open to more and more brands. The promise was interesting. Many still prescribe to it. Many are still investing in it. The end result? It works for few, fails many more and could be enabling tons of money to the wrong people. Display advertising is a failed state because brands are losing control of where their advertising is showing up. We learned some tough lessons very quickly, in the early days of online advertising. I was there. I was selling. It was for one of the top meta-search engines on the Internet. We had a premium banner advertising solution, because we could enable advertisers to buy their ba[...]

The Persistence Of Brands

Mon, 26 Dec 2016 11:22:45 PST

"Nobody wants to be branded anymore," said Aaron Levine, head designer for Abercrombie & Fitch. Well, if that line from the Wall Street Journal's article, Crocodiles (and Polo Ponies) Go Missing as Scalpel-Wielding Consumers Revolt, doesn't make your marketing brain stand up and take notice, who knows what will? There's nothing (really) new in this article. It's a meme that rises to the mass media every few years. There's this thought that human beings are becoming less and less concerned, interested and caring about brands. People want quality, and they no longer feel the need (at the same time) to be advertising for some business by flaunting their corporate animal in the upper quadrant of their polo shirt. Brands have (somehow) become less important, and individuals are more interested in buying clothes that are (somewhat) personalized, or that speak to them by allowing their own personalized style to flaunt. Slow down there, just a second. People confuse the power of a brand with the value of a brand. They are not the same thing. Brands are more important than ever. Brands are also a lot bigger than the fashion labels. The other week, I was complaining about my new Apple MacBook Pro. I was/still am in dongle and power cable hell. Everything that I had accumulated over the years became obsolete in one swoop. Many quipped (on Facebook, of course) that I could have purchased a much better equipped and speedier computer, had I just switched over to PC. I know. For decades, I was a hardcore PC user before switching over to Apple, about five years ago. Why pay a premium? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but it's not hard to admit that Apple is a premium brand. Period. Full stop. I like the Apple brand. Almost everything about it. If human beings were simply pragmatic, and only bought for functionality and longevity, there would be no automative industry, no computer industry, no fashion industry... in fact, there would probably not be that many products or services in the market. We would only buy the things we - as human beings - absolutely needed. We would only buy those things, if they were the lowest price possible with the best quality available.  Brands are an important part of our world. Most people see brands as a nuisance. "Grab that scalpel and scrape off that crocodile from my shirt!" I don't. Most people don't. You probably don't, either. The Wall Street Journal (a brand unto itself), fails to deconstruct the immense value that brands bring to our culture, to our economy, and to our world. Who do you trust? Brands have (and will continue) to provide a level of trust, emotion and experience to consumers. Brands don't do this on the sole basis of creating a healthy environment for competition. Brands don't do this solely to differentiate themselves from one another. Brands don't do this just to charge a premium to consumers. Brands do this because there is a massive market demand. It's not perfect. There are many brands that are perceived to be luxurious, that are not of high quality. There are many brands that are perceived to be cheap, that provide an experience that is over-and-above their competition. There are brands that - sadly - lie and manipulate the public to simply increase revenues. Maybe the logo is obnoxious, but there's something about the brand. So, don't confuse people getting tired of a logo on a shirt for the brand's end of days  Still, brands matter. In fact, I would argue that whatever happens [...]

The Age Of Discovery With Chris Kutarna - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Mon, 26 Dec 2016 10:22:15 PST

Episode #546 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. Chris Kutarna's life has been a fascinating and global journey of both personal discovery and of sharing how our world's connectedness is changing everything. He's the co-author of an amazing book called, Age of Discovery - Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance, that he co-authroed with Ian Goldin. Born Saskatchewan, on the Canadian Prairies, he's lived in places like Australia and New Zealand. He's a fellow of the Oxford Martin School and has a doctorate in politics. He lived in China for several years (and speaks Mandarin). He's been a two-time Governor General's Medallist, a Sauvé Fellow and Commonwealth Scholar, and a former consultant with the Boston Consulting Group... and entrepreneur. These days, he divides his time between London, Beijing and Regina. So, what exactly is this "new renaissance" period? Enjoy the conversation...  You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast #546. Tags: advertising advertising podcast age of discovery audio blog blogging boston consulting group brand branding business blog business book business podcast business thinker chris kutarna commonwealth scholar david usher digital marketing digital marketing agency digital marketing blog entrepreneur facebook google governor generals medallist ian goldin iTunes j walter thompson jwt leadership podcast management podcast marketing marketing blog marketing podcast mirum mirum agency mirum agency blog mirum blog new renaissance oxford martin school sauve fellow social media twitter wpp   [...]

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #340

Thu, 22 Dec 2016 05:50:43 PST

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see? My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see". Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another:  For The Sake Of The Country, Here Are Some Politically Neutral Meerkat Facts - The New Yorker. "As I write this, the last breath of partisan hope exhales across North America as the electoral college confirms the president-elect. So, I appreciated this nonpartisan news." (Alistair for Hugh). Masturbation, penis size, rough sex: What Indians ask doctors online since no one will tell them at home - Quartz. "No, Mitch, I didn't just choose this for the potty-mouthed headline. It's a fascinating piece for two reasons. First, anything done in India is done at massive scale; their young, connected population is forcing the government to tackle serious civic challenges. And second, anonymity is a great way to find out what really worries people. In that vein, the thrust of this article is thrilling. Ahem." (Alistair for Mitch.) Is Particle Physics About to Crack Wide Open? - Scientific American. "The year 2016 shook my understanding of the fundamental laws of the (political) universe. Looks like physics might be shaking too." (Hugh for Alistair). Ikea to teenagers: stop hiding in closets until closing and then having illegal "sleepovers" in our stores - BoingBoing. "It is very hard for me to find links to things I have read that don't rhyme with 'Ump.' But, I got a kick out of this." (Hugh for Mitch). Scientists fired lasers at antimatter in an experiment that probes the deepest human question: why are we here? - Quartz. "I, literally, did a LOL when I read the headline. It's such a human thing. 'How does this work?' 'I dunno.' 'Let's try to blow it up!' Well, it may not be that stupid of an idea after all. 'Called the ALPHA experiment, it involves firing a laser at some atoms of antihydrogen to see if they behave the same way as normal, ordinary matter. And so far, it looks like it does. The problem with that is if matter and antimatter act that way, we shouldn't be here.' Whoa." (Mitch for Alistair). 41 Epic Sites With Breathtaking Stock Photos You Can Use For Free - Thomas Oppong - Medium. "'Tis the season, so here's a little gift. We all know how bad most presentations still are. Here's my hard, fast and easy rule for better presentations: skip the text. Learn/know your content and use visuals to reinforce the words that are coming out of your mouth. The closer you can make it into a story and not a 'data puke' (as my buddy, Avinash Kaushik, calls it), the better it will go. The problem, of course, is that images can be hard to find, and you want to use them legally. Well, here's some great solutions for you... and they're all free. My personal favourite is Unsplash. Enjoy!" (Mitch for Hugh). Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play. width="560" heig[...]