Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: Google

The Battle For The Right To Be Anonymous

Marketers love to track things about consumers. We track who you are, where you’ve been, what you’re saying, the sites you visit, the apps you download and a whole mess of other characteristics. The idea, for years, has been…the more we track about you, the more we learn about you and the better we can customize offers and content for you. Great in theory, poor in practice…usually.

Marquette Appliances Warranty Card

One of the earliest attempts at this was the warranty card a consumer would send in, after buying a product. When you purchased that new stove, back in the day, the store collected some information about you. They knew your address, your name and how you paid (cash, check or card). If they were sophisticated, they kept a log of what you bought, how often you bought and when the items you purchased, needed servicing. That information rarely made it back to the manufacturer though. The way the manufacturer gained some type of understanding about the consumers who purchased their products, was that warranty card. The carrot (or stick, depending on your POV) they used to ensure compliance, was the warranty itself. There was NO warranty covering your product, without a completed card. Sneaky, yes. Smart, at the time, yes.

Cookie Tracking 101

When we graduated to the dawn of the internet, things got a bit more sophisticated. We had cookies. Cookies left a digital set of crumbs that helped marketers understand where you went and what you did on the web. From there, we made assumptions about who you were and what you were interested in. But, we were bad marketers. Instead of using that information to better the customer experience, we used it to retarget them to death…serving them pop-ups at every corner and forcing them to…

Delete Cookies?

The simple solve for improving any browser/web surfing experience, was to delete your cookies. The minute you did that, marketers, were back to square 1, when it came to tracking, understanding and advertising to customers. This became a constant battle of catch me, if you can.

Track Me If You Can

This chase wasn’t efficient or fun. Thankfully, with social media and specifically, Facebook, marketers finally had a method for understanding just about everything they wanted to know about a consumer. Facebook told us who you were…yes, specifically, who you were. We had name, date of birth, location, relationship status, brand/product interests, what places you’d visited and so much more. As Facebook evolved and launched Facebook Connect, we gained even more information. We knew what other sites you visited and the apps you were using. Quick sidebar – I’m convinced, that at some point, Facebook is going to implement a Facebook tax on every call made from a site/app to Facebook Connect. While this wasn’t a perfect solve, it got us closer.

As mobile went from, “it’s going to be big” to “wow, mobile is huge”, marketers would betrayed the trust of customers. There was probably no greater example than that of Carrier IQ. Companies like Apple, HTC, Samsung, etc. would install Carrier IQ’s software services on phones as a means to collect information that would help them improve the phones. On the surface, not a horrible thing. Except for 1 big detail…Carrier IQ, wasn’t providing information anonymously and they were tracking things that weren’t diagnostic related, like every keystroke you made. No surprise, Carrier IQ was sued. It was situations like this and programs like Facebook’s beacon initiative that, in my opinion, accelerated the movement toward the rise of apps and experiences that focused on anonymity.

Today, apps like YikYak, Snapchat and Whisper are growing leaps and bounds. The minute a company releases a new piece of software or an operating system, articles like this are published to help consumers regain some of their freedom, by disabling features that track them. It obviously didn’t help, that the whole, Edward Snowden “thing” happened. Not exactly a situation that makes you feel comfortable about being tracked. That Snowden revelation lead to the growth of Tor, a free platform, designed to stop advertisers and the government from tracking you.

I believe we’re on the precipice of battle around tracking. The more marketers build new ways to track customers, the more customers will find new ways to remain hidden. How long til we’re wrapping our cars in tin foil to avoid tracking from Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. By the way, it’s completely possible to that…

Wrap A Car In Tin Foil

So, what’s a marketer to do? I don’t have all the answers, but wearing both my consumer and marketer hat, here’s a few thoughts:

  1. I don’t think this can be solved by technology…alone.
  2. I think we’re going to see consumers become brokers of their own data. Imagine a BlueKai style approach for consumers. As brokers of their own data, consumers will get to choose not only what data they share, but with whom. They’ll also be compensated for sharing that data on a case-by-case basis.
  3. We’re going to see some type of dashboard solution provided by companies to show customers the data they’re collecting, why they’re collecting it, who it’s shared with (if anyone) and how to opt-out (along with the consequences of doing so) of that data collection. Google already does this, via Google Dashboard. I think others will follow suit.
  4. Custom, not creepy, will become a mantra. Using data to shape and inform the content, offers and advertising that are put in front of a consumer so that they’re relevant, helpful, interesting and actionable, is going to be the key. Using data in a way to trick, trap or incessantly interrupt a consumer, will become the path to failure.

We’re at an interesting and unique place in time. Never before has there been so much data, so many ways to collect it and so many ways to use it. When that data becomes something truly helpful, our trust in data integrity, increases. If you have a Nest thermostat, think about the moment, when the collection of your data, enabled your Nest to surprise you in a delightful way. Maybe it was coming home to your house, in the middle of Summer, on a hot day, but finding the inside of your home, cool and comfortable. Or, if you’ve ever used Waze, that awesome moment, when you were rerouted on a different path, to avoid a an accident that was causing traffic to back up.

We are all data now. There’s no denying this. We can track our steps, our heartbeat, the purchases we make, the beer we drink and the friends we talk to. The dawn of big data for the little guy, is here. What becomes of that data and how it’s used, will shape the type of relationship we, as consumers, want to have with marketers.

Will Making Us More Connected, Make Us Less Connected?

CES came and went. I with it. I started working on a recap of my week at CES, but every time I started to craft it, I felt it was something that was already written. You’ve seen the recaps I’m talking about. They read like an Apple product launch ad:

Thinner: The televisions

Lighter: The cars, with carbon fiber everywhere

Faster: The chips powering cameras, 3D printers and of course tablets/laptops

The above is all true. But, as I walked the trade show floors, talked with company reps and traded thoughts with our media, agency and platform partners, I think there’s something deeper going on.

Internet Of Things?

At a surface level, beyond Thinner, Lighter and Faster, CES 2015 was all about Connected. Some called this the year of IOT (internet of things, because you know, we need another acronym). The concept of IOT is that everything is becoming more connected, all the time, which in theory makes us smarter. A great example of this is Whirlpool’s new line of “Smart Appliances” which can sync with your Nest thermostat. Why you ask? Good question. Your Nest will pull the current rates for gas/electric usage and then run your Whirlpool washer and dryer at times when the rates are cheaper…saving you money. There’s also a companion app that allows you to keep tabs on your washer and dryer. You’ll know that it’s home and not partying – running, working as expected and if it’s being environmentally efficient. Connected. Smarter. Right? It definitely is, but, I’m not sure I need it…at $1699 a device.

There’s a whole host of these types of devices and they’re all getting more connected and smarter. For example we have:

Parrot Pot: “the most advanced connected plant pot” – yes, a pot for your plant that has sensors. With a database of over 8,000 plants, this pot, will provide you diagnostics on the health of your plant and with a special water reservoir that’s sensor based, it will provide the right amount of water at the right time. Of course, it comes with an app, so that you can check in on your plant, while you’re traveling to Davos.

Big Ass Fan’s Haiku With SenseME: An $1,100 fan? Of course you need that. First, it’s made from bamboo, which makes it Earth friendly. Second, it has SenseME technology which among other things, “knows when you enter or leave a room, turning Haiku on and off automatically.” It has an app so I can keep track of its performance. You never know when you’ll be out to dinner and need to “Use the app to set schedules for both the fan and light or select from several unique control modes.”

Motorola Scout 5000: “The Motorola Scout 5000 from Binatone doesn’t just tell you where your pet is — it’ll show you a live video stream and even let you talk to your roaming loved one.” At only $200, how could you possible not buy one? Imagine, you’re at work. You leave your pet at home, per usual, but you wonder, was he abducted, did she meet up with a pack of dogs from the wrong side of town or did he call in sick and take a beach day. You won’t have to wonder anymore. Of course, there’s an app. You’ll be able to stay connected to your pet, even while you’re in your yoga class.

Look, there was some snark there. I’m sure for some there’s a need and these products satisfy that need. I have a Nest Thermostat, a Nest Protect, an August Smart Lock and Philips Hue lights in every room of the house. Add in my WiThings scale and the countless number of fitness band trackers I’ve experimented with and you’d think I’d be all for: Connected and Smarter.

Texting In Meetings

But, like I said, coming back from CES, as I reflected on all the gadgetry (and there was a lot of innovative and interesting stuff…many of which I wanted to buy), something deeper was gnawing at me. Nearly a month later, I think it’s two things, that are very inter-related.

  1. Every device that keeps us connected to it, ultimately makes us less connected the people we’re supposed to be connected to. Let me explain. We’ve all been in a meeting and seen someone pull out their phone to read an email. 5 years ago it was rude. Today, it’s common place. Our phones keep us connected to our email, which make us less connected to the people in the room we’re supposed to be building relationships with. Take email and multiply it by 1,000 to cover notifications and the ability to check in on your: Nest, Hue Lights, Motorola Scout 5000, Dropcam and so on and so on. Staying connected takes time. It takes time to do and it takes time away from things we could and should be doing. Having seen it up close, I think it makes us less human and less connected to people, society and life.
  2. While #1 won’t ever be completely solved, it can be mitigated. The problem with all of these connected devices is they rarely play well with another. Not unlike VHS and Betamax, we’re in a format war. Although, instead of it just being a format war, we’re also in an ecosystem war that looks similar to the mid 90s Mac vs PC battle, where little to nothing was cross platform compatible. Do you want your Samsung Smart Home device to talk to your Apple HomeKit device? Good luck. Not happening any time soon. Maybe you’d really like your We-Mo Crock-Pot to play well with your Jawbone Up; it’s unlikely to happen. Everyone thinks they have the answer to you IOT problem. Samsung thinks they do. So does Google, Apple, Belkin and others. Consumers though, we don’t care about the ecosystem territory wars. We just want things to work. Yep, that simple. If everything worked together (and there’s really no technical reason they can’t), simply, with data moving back and forth via APIs, doing things behind the scenes without our need to stay connected to stay informed, we’d be on to something. We’d see a connected world, become a smarter world, without a connected world make us less connected to the real world and the people in it.

In some respects, it’s still very early days for the Internet of Things. Companies like Wink are trying to solve for a fragmented ecosystem. It’s a good start. But, we need more access, more collaboration and more focus on the end user, instead of each company protecting their walled garden. If not, we’ll find ourselves more connected than ever before to things, but less connected to people. I just can’t see that being good.

Here’s What’s Going To Happen 2015

I love predictions. A prediction, at best, is like spinning the roulette wheel. It’s a gamble. No one actually knows what’s going to happen in the future. But, if there’s one thing our industry loves, it’s to pretend like they do.

Let me be clear; I have no idea what’s going to happen. in 2015. But, I will say, over the past 3 years, my intuition about what’s going to happen has been more right, than wrong. My 2014 predictions had an 80% success rate , my 2013 predictions saw a 60% thumbs up rate and my 2012 predictions were 90% right. Thus my 3 year “Lipper Average”, so to speak has been above 85%. Also, if you looked thru my previous year’s predictions, I hope you’ll see, I didn’t opt for softballs.

So what does all of this mean? Nothing. As the pace of change increases at a more rapid rate, it’s more challenging to predict what’s going to happen.

That said, let me offer 5 quick predictions and then 5 meaty ones.

  1. Apple Will Launch A Music Streaming Service, It Will Rival Spotify, Crush Small Players, But It Will Not Be A Universal Success: See #2, but I don’t think an Apple streaming service is going to push out Pandora. I actually think Pandora is going to thrive. Apple’s streaming service, because it will be pre-populated on every iPhone, iPad, etc. will have massive scale, but will struggle to convert users from rival services. It will pave the way for 2016 though, when I think Apple’s streaming model will take off.
  2. We Will See A Resurgence In Radio: Similar to vinyl’s growth and comeback, I think the shift toward a streaming and on-demand world is going to propel radio forward. Additionally, people’s desire for local information and knowledge will keep them coming back. We might see some consolidation in radio stations or a consolidation in large network holding companies, but, the overall health of radio will be much better than it has been the past few years.
  3. Google+ And Google Glass Will Be Retired: Google may evolve these products and then call them something else, but you will not see Google+ and Google Glass as platforms or products, come the close of 2015.
  4. A Governing Body, Most Likely The FDA, Will Crack Down On The Wearables Market, Forcing Many To Fold: Ultimately, these products are edging closer and closer to medical devices. But, manufacturers aren’t treating them as such. They’re instead treating them like casual gadgets, when they are obviously more than that. This is going to cause a problem for these who didn’t take the time to work with governing bodies to ensure they’re products were legit, honest and legally factual.
  5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Will Become The Highest Grossing Movie Of All Time: Technically, this won’t happen until 2016, but the movie launches in 2015. The total worldwide sales will make Frozen look pedestrian.

A good list for sure, but you might argue that some of these were a bit too easy. That’s fair. So without further adieu, here’s 5 more controversial and meatier predictions.

  1. Google’s Search Business Will Have A Down Year: Yes, I’m serious. Their dominant core product is going to run just a tick above flat. I want to make sure I’m clear here when I say “core product.” At the end of the day, Google’s core product is making money of off search results. The majority of those results take place in the traditional Google.com experience. It will retain it’s overall dominance on broad searches, but as people continue to browse and discover, we’re going to see search volume shift to places and platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Spotify, Flickr, fourSquare and YouTube. Yes, YouTube. Instead of going to Google and typing in “Star Wars Trailer”, people are going to start going directly to YouTube to perform those searches. Net-net, we’re going to see a big shift from “search” to browse and discover.
  2. The Apple Watch Will Be A Success For Apple, But Will Fail To Propel The Smart Watch Category Forward: You might be saying huh? Ok, let me explain. Apple has a problem. Specifically, they have a problem with the iPad. The core iPhone business is great, but the iPad is so good, it doesn’t require people to upgrade often. The Apple Watch will fill the void of the slumping iPad sales, but it won’t be a big enough to make smart watches a must have accessory for the broader consumer market.
  3. There Will Be A Major Cloud Services Hack That Will Take Down A Number Of Major Platforms: I don’t know which service is going to hacked. What I know is that something is going to get hacked and it’s going to have a major impact. For example, imagine Pandora getting hacked and having that hack impact all the cars that have Pandora installed. It’s going to be something like that.
  4. The C-Suite Will See A Major Overhaul: Two things are going to happen. One, we’re going to see a premium on digital experience and background. For example, instead of seeing the traditional CMO model (brand management + MBA), we’ll see someone that comes from a tech background. Additionally, we’ll see a premium on ethics and “clean” backgrounds. You can’t pull another Gurbaksh Chahal and stay employed. It just can’t happen. To be bold, I think we’ll see 3 C-Suite execs, from startup/tech organizations, eliminated because of public / negative PR. Additionally, I think we’ll see a major organization, like Target, follow the Walgreens playbook and elevate a digital leader into a CMO role.
  5. Publicis Or Another Large Agency Holding Company, Will Take A Run At A Major Merger: Following the failed Publicis-Omnicom merger, we’re going to see pride, ego and financial pressure force an attempt at another mega merger. I could see IPG and MDC combining forces, or WPP and IPG. This will happen, if for no other reason than the world isn’t big enough for 5+ holding companies.

So that’s what I think. What do you think? Where am I wrong? Where am I right? Time always tells the truth. A year from now we’ll do the reflection needed to see if I was right or wrong. Accountability, I’m a fan.

How I Did With My 2014 Marketing, Advertising And Technology Predictions

If all you have time for is one sentence, here it is…I was 8/10. If you have even more time, thanks. Before we start the analyzing, I want to provide a few pieces of context. A few years ago I started offering predictions in the marketing, advertising and technology space. These predictions would come out in December and would look ahead at the next 12 months. Because I believe accountability is important, towards the end of the year, I critique my own predictions to see how well I did.

This was the original post from 2013, that analyzed my 2013 predictions and outlined what I thought would happen in 2014. Without further adieu, let’s see how I did. Text in bold is my commentary and analysis.

  1. Agencies will feel the squeeze from two ends of the spectrum. On one front companies like Accenture, IDEO and smaller boutiques take a chunk out of the strategy portion of budgets. On the other front clients will start transitioning functions like social media and insights in-house. This will cause a ripple effect that will lead to more large consolidations. These consolidations will be big, but not quite at the scale of the Omnicom/Publicis merger. Definitely nailed this one. We saw big acquisition/mergers like Publicis’ purchase of Sapient Nitro and small ones like VML acquiring Biggs Gilmore. More and more clients started bringing social in-house, including Apple, who hired Musa Tariq away from Nike. There were ripple effects, with Mass Relevance being acquired by Spredfast and Sprinklr acquiring The Dachis Group.
  2. SnapChat will implode. It will grow it’s user base, but won’t figure out how to monetize the platform. All the while, Facebook/Instagram, twitter and Google will come up with extensions to their platforms that will provide the basic utility of SnapChat, but for a mass audience. While we still haven’t seen a full on nuclear implosion, we’ve see Snapchat deal with everything from data breaches, privacy concerns and SnapChat’s CEO coming under fire for misogynist comments. Beyond that, they’ve continued to struggle to generate ad revenue, with most large brands still avoiding the platform. We saw Facebook acquire WhatsApp to boost their messaging game. They also spun of FB Messenger as a separate product. The big surprise here was Apple rolling out SnapChat like features as part of iOS 8. I’m giving myself a check mark in the yes column.
  3. Google Glass will come to the mass market, but will flop, UNLESS the consumer version has a built in cellular connection. Flop, well Flop would be an understatement. I’ll let you enjoy the irony of this set of Google Search Results that call for Google Glass’ death.
  4. Amazon will purchase a grocery retailer to expedite the growth of their Amazon Fresh service. If I were betting, it would be Supervalu. I missed on this. While Amazon did NOT purchase a grocery store they did expand Fresh, significantly, including offering unique delivery services in New York City.
  5. Über will IPO. No IPO yet, but we still have 1.5 months to go.
  6. We will see a major movie studio release a semi-major movie available for stream/download before it comes to theaters. My money is on Netflix pulling this off from a distribution standpoint. I want to be fair. The real question is how you define “major.” For martial arts fans, Netflix announcing Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2, as a Netflix exclusive and something that won’t launch in theaters, was BIG. I feel good about this prognostication. Netflix is disrupting like crazy, and that’s a good thing.
  7. Mobile payments will finally gain traction, making up for the poor launches from ISIS and Google Wallet over the past few years. Um, you might have heard about this thing called Apple Pay. Kind of a big deal. Win!
  8. Companies of all walks of life will start creating “products.” For example, we might see Nestle create a product similar to FitBit, that will integrate with their Lean Cuisine line. P&G might create a wearable technology type of device for babies. It’s coming. P&G didn’t create a wearable device for babies, but they did launch Swash. Also, apparel manufacturer Under Armour purchased Map My Fitness. We didn’t see as many as I thought we’d see, but we did see it. That’s a win.
  9. iBeacon and other proximity driven messaging/communication platforms, designed to sync and communicate with your phone, will struggle to take off. The problem won’t be interest or cost. The problem will be the continued relative poor battery life of phones and the privacy concerns of consumers. Got this one right. I think we’re going to see this change in 2015. Longer battery life for phones and better understanding of how to use Beacons (it’s more than offers) will see this go from 50% of retailers testing beacons to more than 50% using them in a meaningfully beneficial way.
  10. The next big mobile platform, won’t be a phone, it will be a car. Ford, BMW or another car manufacturer will bring a custom version of Android to their vehicles. Boom! Nailed this, in a BIG way. Apple launched Car Play and Google is bringing Android to manufacturers like Audi and GM.

If you were keeping score at home that’s 8 right (1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) and 2 wrong (4 and 5). Not too shabby. I’ll take an 80% success rate. There’s also still time for Uber to announce an IPO or for Amazon to buy a grocery chain. Though, if I were a betting man, I’d say Uber announcing an IPO is much more likely.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be working on my 2015 predictions. Would love to hear your thoughts on how I did in 2014 and what you think is going to happen in 2015.

Friday Five – July 18, 2014

Google contact lenses: Tech giant licenses smart contact lens technology to help diabetics and glasses wearers
http://ind.pn/1zN0MSO
Talk about the internet of things, being something more than just a scale that can tweet your weight. Google and Novartis are partnering up to create contact lenses that among other things, could measure a wearer’s vitals and eliminate the need for painful blood tests.

How The World Cup Played Out On Facebook Versus Twitter
http://onforb.es/1zMVoiI
Good insight. I won’t bury the lead, “Twitter is where people go to talk about surprising, unexpected events as they’re unfolding. Facebook is where people go to record their feelings about big, shared milestones somewhat after the fact. The World Cup told us what we already know.” definitely worth reading and for a more in-depth analysis check out twitter’s publicly released info about the activity surrounding the World Cup http://bit.ly/1zMVxCM

People remember ads more when they binge on TV shows
http://bit.ly/1zMVHKj
“A binge watching audience is different than the traditional one because binge viewers are more invested in the content on the screen, and that includes the ads, said Pamela Marsh, director of primary research and insights for Annalect, which conducted the study.” While this is great for advertisers, it could be bad for people in general. A recent study indicates that binge watching TV kills us faster http://nbcnews.to/1zMVPtc

Publishers have an updated evergreen strategy: Make the old new again
http://bit.ly/1zMWfjr
Publishers are starting to realize that “news” and “content” doesn’t have to be new to perform really well. Content from a few months to a few years back can be just as engaging, if not more, than content that’s new and fresh. This really isn’t too crazy when you consider the great images that are shared by people, across social networks, on every Thursday (aka Throwback Thursday). As Don Draper once remarked, nostalgia is potent.

An Actually Useful Version of Yo Is Warning Israelis of Rocket Strikes
http://wrd.cm/1zMYLWJ
Have you heard of “Yo!” – it’s a messaging app that lets you say “Yo!” to all your friends. Yes, I’m serious. Stop shaking your head. It’s real. There’s no shortage of jokes about the app. As ridiculous as the concept seems, Yo! Is now serving a higher purpose. “Yo users can now follow “RedAlertIsrael” to get a “Yo” at the same time that the sirens go off. The user typically receives a warning via smartphone 15 to 90 seconds before a rocket hits.” Impressive and innovative.

Friday Five – January 24, 2014

How Spotify, Netflix and Amazon control your online habits
http://bit.ly/1asCeFB
“The more we know about you, the better the engine can be,” says Spotify’s Donovan Sung. This is why I’m still a big believer that the best is yet to come for Facebook. Choice Architecture is one of the most difficult things to grasp. When you have 3 ice cream flavors, choice is easy. When you have 100 it’s substantially harder. How information is presented will impact the consumer’s decision. This is why I think in-store design is so important, yet unfortunately overlooked.

Former Apple CEO backs virtual doctor’s office to create the ‘consumer era’ of medicine
http://bit.ly/1asDCbg
First, this is pretty damn cool. Second, do you realize we’ve been talking about this concept for roughly 10 years? The first doctor to get mainstream coverage of this was Dr. Jay Parkinson. In a Wired magazine article from 2007, he shared how he was using email, video chat and IM to treat patients. Perhaps, the world and technology needed to catchup to his trailblazing ideas. This is a great example of why I believe we are living in the Now Economy and it’s not going to change.

Target Tests Small Store for Urban Shoppers as Young People Pick Cities Over Suburbs
http://bit.ly/1asEuN7
Interesting isn’t it? Stores were once small and in the heart of the city. Then we went to the super sized Wal-Mart and Target format. From there it was on to the mega sized Sam’s Club approach. But, as people are sticking in the city and foregoing cars, we’re headed back to a smaller format. This is why I think the omnichannel approach Walgreens is taking by leveraging their 8,000 store footprint and adding larger format stores into the mix, is a win. It’s always easier to make your smaller footprint a little bigger than it is to downsize your larger format store.

Trends Come and Go in Retail, but Technology Is the One Trend That Is Here to Stay
http://bit.ly/1asFq3V
I think you could also call this post, “Job Security For Those Who Love And Can Adapt To Change.” This could and should have been a longer post, instead of a primer to get people to sign up for a white paper. I don’t normally include these types of links, but even in the relatively short post, I think they may a very important point – you need a model for managing and forecasting the rapid change in technology and its impact on your business.

Our Mobile Planet
http://bit.ly/1asGa98
If you made it down this far, thanks. This post is your reward. I spent hours playing around with the Our Mobile Planet tool that Google created. The tool lets you slice and dice a large variety of data about mobile. The data spans everything from app usage to mobile shopping and you can slice the data by age, gender and geography. This is the one link you’ll keep revisiting this year. Bookmark it. Yes, I said “bookmark.”

Friday Five – January 3, 2014

Google And Audi Likely To Announce Infotainment Partnership At CES
http://onforb.es/1bCvNcD
I’ve been saying it for nearly 2 years, but the future is mobility, not mobile. Our cars are one of the most mobile “devices” we own and yet it’s been fairly technology limited. Ford really changed that with their Microsoft Sync relationship. It was only a matter of time til someone turned your car into something that resembled your phone. If the rumors are true, it’s Audi and Google who are committing to bring you the future of mobility.

Wendy Clark: All Marketing Strategies Should Start With ‘Why’
http://bit.ly/1bCvZsj
I love this article, penned by Wendy Clark, Coke’s VP of Marketing. Brands are built over time and with relentless focus. There’s a reason Coke, as a brand, is recognized, understood and appreciated across the world. To hear Wendy explain it, it’s their focus on their mission. “In these moments, when we lead with the product (what) and not our mission (why), our decisions get smaller, our perspective less brave, our work less memorable, our world impact more limited.” Purposeful positioning matters. It gives a brand a foundation to build upon and to thrive on.

Zappos is going holacratic: no job titles, no managers, no hierarchy
http://bit.ly/1bCwjr6
It’s the kind of thing only Zappos could do AND be successful in doing. Instead of a top down hierarchy, “…there will be around 400 circles at Zappos once the rollout is complete in December 2014—and employees can have any number of roles within those circles. This way, there’s no hiding under titles; radical transparency is the goal.” I love this approach. Then again, I’ve always loved the idea of accountability. Roles are much more valuable than titles. It’s your role that enables you to feel purpose and drive impact beyond your box on an org chart.

More Than 300 Sharks In Australia Are Now On Twitter
http://n.pr/1bCwWRx
“Government researchers have tagged 338 sharks with acoustic transmitters that monitor where the animals are. When a tagged shark is about half a mile away from a beach, it triggers a computer alert, which tweets out a message on the Surf Life Saving Western Australia Twitter feed. The tweet notes the shark’s size, breed and approximate location.” That sums it up. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Pew Internet Life Project: The 2013 Social Media Report
http://bit.ly/1bCxuHd
Always a fan of the work done by Pew. Their reports on internet/digital/social use and adoption always have me leaning forward. In their 2013 report on social media trends we see a few interesting things.

  1. If you thought Facebook was on the decline…think again.
  2. Just about everyone uses social. Ok, not everyone, but 73% of adults online. That’s significant.
  3. While Facebook isn’t on the decline, people are diversifying their time across many social networks…especially Instagram.

The full report can be found here.

Friday Five – December 20, 2013

Why Advertising Is ‘Dead Last’ Priority at Outerwear Marketer Patagonia
http://bit.ly/JLguIf
Great reminder that purposeful positioning is more important today than it’s ever been. Mission focused organizations are finding an easier go in digital, because story-telling is simple and effortless for companies that stand for something bigger than just selling more cases.

The top visual design trends for 2014
http://bit.ly/JLhegz
Solid infographic outlining the major visual design trends next year. As a dad of 2, I’m especially thrilled to see “Hands on Dads” as an emerging category. Personally, I don’t think dad’s get enough credit for all we do. Also, pay special attention to #11. The idea that photos that aren’t professionally taken or styled will be expected and more impactful, will prove difficult for companies that like to over-edit EVERY visual.

Text messaging will look boring after you try this app backed by Betaworks and Dave Morin
http://bit.ly/JLhNqB
I’m not bullish on SnapChat as a business driving platform, nor do I see it ever living up to it’s valuation. Dave Morin, famous for launching and overseeing the slow death of Path, backed a new platform called “Context.” This will be one of several new messaging apps that will hit the street in the next few months. Each one will erode away at SnapChat’s audience. Teens are fickle and they certainly don’t want to be on the same platforms as their parents (see Facebook). As Gen X, Y and Boomers invade SnapChat, Context will be one of many alternatives teens and tweens will join.

Judging By Google Searches, Here Are The Things Americans Were Most Clueless About in 2013
http://bit.ly/JLitMM
I think this is a combination of the things Americans were clueless about (eg twerking) and interested in learning more about (eg Boston Marathon). While the data isn’t included, it’s clear the power TV has on search. TV is a stimulus that leads us to explore. And today, when we want to explore, it’s google that we turn to. In 2014 it will be interesting to see if twitter chips away at that decade + trend, especially as people want real-time and frequent updates.

Beyoncé Rejects Tradition for Social Media’s Power
http://nyti.ms/JLjfcr
Great background on how and why Beyonce chose social media over traditional marketing to launch her new album. I especially love this passage:

“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it,” Beyoncé said in a news release, which so far represents the only public comments that she or Columbia, her label, have made. “I am bored with that.”

Perhaps if more marketers adopted this philosophy we’d see a quicker transition away from the copy and paste approach to marketing campaigns. The album itself is mediocre, but this is brilliant marketing. What I love about this, is that it speaks to why I got into marketing and advertising in the first place…to keep reinventing brands and breaking molds. That’s the fun part. Great marketers are ever curious and antsy. We like to tweak, plan and re-tweak. Then when we launch something, there’s a void, not a relief. That void is filled by thinking about how to set an even higher bar.

I’m Back – 5 Things To Share

It’s been a while since my last post. Too long. It’s not for lack of content. Believe me, I’ve had plenty on my mind, that’s worth sharing. A few things happened that brought my writing to a screeching halt:

  1. I’ve been swamped at the office working on some very exciting new projects
  2. I broke my hand which makes typing challenging at best
  3. I’ve been doing a lot more travel than normal and using the flight time to catch up on sleep
  4. I spent the last week in Florida with the kids at Disney World

Excuses, I know, we all have them. So with all that said, rather than write an ungodly amount of posts, I’m opting to condense all my ramblings into 3 posts with 5 focus areas. This is the first.

  1. We launched 4 the first ever Walgreens Photo Blog, titled “Walgreens Snaps.” I got the privilege of crafting the first post. I’m excited about this blog because it’s content that our community wants and it’s going to drive serious SEO performance for our Photo Site.
  2. Like many early adopter brands, we launched our official Walgreens Google+ page. We’re still figuring out how we’ll use Google+, but I can tell you that Hangouts will be a major part of how we find success on Google+.
  3. First To Know” launched on our Walgreens Facebook page. First to know is about rewarding our most plugged in community members. By signing up for first to know, Facebook community members will be alerted to great deals, special offers and more, before ANYONE else learns about it. The response has been great since launching 2 weeks ago.
  4. Our Walgreens Social Media team won a Chicago Interactive Marketing Association award for our Flu Check-In program. While I’m not an award junky like Creative Directors at Leo Burnett, I think awards are a great sense of validation for the ideas we’re bringing to market. Part of our KPIs this year are 5 projects that meet the Return On Amazing criteria…with 3 of them needing to win awards. This helps keep the bar high and all of us focused on big ideas that drive the organization.
  5. Our Social Media team started as a team of 1 and now we’re a team of 7 with 2 more hires to go. Sam Ogborn and Eric Gottloeb are our 2 newest hires. Both bring great experience…REAL experience, as opposed to “consultative” experience that’s focused on theory. To go from 1 to 7 inside of 7 months…and eventually 9, definitely shows you how important social is to our organization.

My Early Thoughts On Google+

This video from The Jimmy Fallon Show does a great job of explaining the mass hysteria around Google+:

It’s funny, but Seth Green is spot on. Others, more qualified than I, have already ripped the invite policy, so I won’t go there. We also have a large group of misguided people who are proclaiming Google+ a Facebook killer or a twitter killer or a something else killer. To those pundits, I say, you are missing the point.

I resisted the urge to publish a post on Google+ right after it came out, unlike many others. When I first joined there just wasn’t enough people using it to get a fair read. To be honest with you, there still isn’t enough people, or maybe a better way to say it, is enough of the right people using it to make a fair evaluation. With that in mind here’s 5 thoughts I have:

  1. Google+ gets a lot right.  As I wrote on Google+, “Circles seem like the key. The ability to segment your entire circle of connections into sub-circles is a game changer and honestly, aligned better with user behavior. We don’t want to share the same way with a long-time friend, co-worker, former colleague or family member.”  That’s really the killer function and it shows that Google truly understands user behavior.  But, it’s also something that Facebook could very easily replicate.  So how long will it really be a point of differentiation?
  2. The integration of Google+ into all other Google products (gmail, calendar, etc.) was the smartest decision they made.  Instead of Google+ becoming a separate destination it can now act as something that ties across all the Google products you’re already using.  Facebook can’t even start to compete here.
  3. The lack of a mobile app for the iPhone and Blackberry (yes, I know the Blackberry is dying a slow death) is hurting the ability for Google+ to scale.  With more than 40% of Facebook users using Facebook via mobile devices and similar behavior (mobile, mobile, mobile) for other social networks, Google wasn’t thinking forward enough here.  As a sample size of 1 I can tell you my Google+ usage is nowhere near as high as it would be if I could be connected to it on the go.  Big miss here that I know they’ll correct, but it needs to be said.  The success of failure of Google+ will be tied directly to how strong and simple the mobile experience is.
  4. Google+ isn’t a replacement for twitter or Facebook.  But, it is something that will redirect and shift where we spend our time.  That’s why #2 is so important.  We already search for things, email, watch videos on youTube, scheduled events, etc.  With Google+ being integrated across all Google products, Google has found a way for us to “multi-task” with Google+ while we’re doing something else powered by Google.  Time is finite, the integration approach is one way to gain more of it.  What else will they do to keep us plugged in?
  5. This is the most important thought, what problem does Google+ solve?  I still don’t know.  Sure, it’s nice.  It’s simple. It has great features like Circles and Huddle.  But, if you are already on Facebook, if you are already on twitter, if you don’t social network at all, what does Google+ provide that makes your life better, simpler, easier, more enjoyable, etc.?  The best products, the best ideas, the best platforms…the ones that succeed, SOLVE a problem.  What does Google+ solve?
I’m looking forward to using Google+ more and more, especially through the iPhone and iPad apps once they are in market.  After that, I’ll have a more in depth post covering what I think the value of Google+ is for users and marketers.