Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 20, 201710:28 AM

Your Google Searches May Be Used Against You, Artificial Intelligence Gets Smarter And More On This Week's CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

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 DiMonte morning show. The segment is called, CTRL ALT Delete with Mitch Joel.

This week we discussed: 

Take a listen right here...

By Mitch Joel


February 19, 2017 6:53 AM

How To Be Happy, Awesome And Authentic With Neil Pasricha - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Episode #554 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Sometimes, in life, you get lucky. You meet someone that you have always admired, and you become fast friends. I've been with my talent bureau for over a decade (hey Speaker's Spotlight). Each year they have a holiday party for staff, speakers and friends. I always have the best of intentions to go, but I've never been. This past December, I finally went. While standing in the darkish and loud office space, Neil Pasricha came over and introduced himself. I've known about Neil for a long while. I knew him as the hugely popular #1 bestselling author of The Book Of Awesome and The Happiness Equation. I knew him as one of the most popular TED speakers in the world. I knew him, because he used to work at Walmart in their leadership development division (and Walmart was a client of Mirum). I knew him as a very popular speaker on the topic of happiness, authenticity and living a life with meaning. Still, we never had the chance to connect - one-on-one and in our protein forms. Until now. Neil is also known for his blog (that started this all) called, 1000 Awesome Things. Now, he's focused on The Institute For Global Happiness and recently gave a brand new (and awesome) TED Talk called, How do you maximize your tiny, short life? 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 #554.

By Mitch Joel


February 18, 2017 5:44 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #348

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 (Solve for InterestingTilt the WindmillHBS; chair of StrataStartupfestPandemonio, and ResolveTO; Author of Lean Analytics and some other books), 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: 

  • Google Maps: Hyperlapse Around the World - IDEAndo. "I'm almost at the point where I take mapping for granted. I used to have a sense of direction, and print travel instructions. We've had Google Maps for less than 15 years, and today, everyone with a smartphone and a data plan has the kind of geographic intelligence past military commanders could only dream of. One Maps fan decided to celebrate, stitching together thousands of images from Google. The hard part was removing metadata and stabilizing images, as this PetaPixel post explains." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Meeting Earth's most typical person - CBS Evening News. "In an era of tailored marketing and personalization, it turns out that you can learn a lot from averages. National Geographic analyzed the data on human population, and combined nearly 200,000 faces to make a portrait to accompany the person: 'He is Han Chinese so his ethnicity is Han. He is 28 years old. He is Christian. He speaks Mandarin. He does not have a car. He does not have a bank account.' And then--plot twist--CBS News went and found him." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • The Rise of the Like Economy - The Ringer. "How the little thumbs up has transformed the world." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Enter Sandman - Iron Horse. "Does Mitch love metal? Hell yeah. Does Mitch love bluegrass? I doubt it. But, love it or hate it, you have to take your hat off to a bluegrass cover of a Metallica classic." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Automation Will Make Us Rethink What a "Job" Really Is - Harvard Business Review. "What value will a 'job' hold if we do, in fact, see the rise of intelligent automation? Famed Futurist (and co-founder of Wired), Kevin Kelly, would call this an inevitable moment. I believe him. With that, our economy is going to change as machines become intelligent. They will learn by experience and improve (with leaps and bounds) over time. These are facts (whether you want to admit it or not). So, what are we all going to do? Don't think that 'being creative' is the answer, either because that too will become automated over time. So, what's a job for?" (Mitch for Alistair).
  • A Conversation With Brian Eno About Ambient Music - Pitchfork. "I think that I like the way Brian Eno talks about music and creativity more than I enjoy the music that he creates... and that's saying something (love his stuff!). He is so intellectual and creatively inspiring when he speaks about his work - or the type of music that inspires him. This is a great example of that. If you feel like you might obsess a little too much over the work that you're doing, take a reads of this..." (Mitch for Hugh).

Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play.

By Mitch Joel


February 17, 2017 3:23 PM

The Data Is Watching You

Just how much data and analytics does a brand need?

We can track everything online. How is that working out for you? I believe in the power of micro-transactions (a phrase that I either created after spending time with Google's Avinash Kaushik or a concept that I completely stole from him... with proper attribution). The theory is quite simple: most brands care about the main transaction (did someone buy from them), but they spend little-to-no time analyzing and nurturing the micro-transactions (someone watched a YouTube video, signed up to a newsletter, liked your brand on Facebook, etc...). If newer analytics model tell us anything, it's which combination of these micro-transactions create the most efficient path to purchase. So, the data is not about vanity metrics (how many people did what) but true value-based metrics (was all that effort to drive consumers to our e-newsletter a smart strategy?). As more information gets pumped into these systems, brands will be able to leverage this data against second and third-party data sources to create a bunch of new marketing models... the likes of which business has never seen before. Many scoff at this idea, but Facebook is neck-deep into these models. Last December, Business Insider published the article, Facebook is quietly buying information from data brokers about its users' offline lives:

"To find out exactly what type of data Facebook buys from brokers, we downloaded a list of 29,000 categories that the site provides to ad buyers. Nearly 600 of the categories were described as being provided by third-party data brokers. (Most categories were described as being generated by clicking pages or ads on Facebook). The categories from commercial data brokers were largely financial, such as 'total liquid investable assets $1-$24,999,' 'People in households that have an estimated household income of between $100K and $125K', or even 'Individuals that are frequent transactor at lower cost department or dollar stores.'"

What certain brands know about about their consumers is scary.

It's not even a question of what they're doing with this information, it's the fact that they have all of this information. So, here's a thought: if brands know this much about their consumers, what's stopping them from knowing even more about their employees and team members? MIT Technology Review published a pretty terrifying article titled, Your Cubicle Has Ears--and Eyes, and a Brain:

"... an increasing number of companies are outfitting offices with sensors to keep track of employees. These sensors are hidden in lights, on walls, under desks -- anywhere that allows them to measure things like where people are and how much they are talking or moving. The raw data is just the beginning... software to crunch information on everything from key card swipes to what applications people are using on their computers to understand how employees -- and the business as a whole -- operate."

So, just how productive are you?

There has been monitoring technologies forever. The promise is a work environment that is more creative and productive. The other side of that coin is that your team members feel like Big Brother is not only watching them, but analyzing their every waking breath and telling them how to improve upon it. So, we've gone from optimizing the path to purchase in our marketing efforts to optimizing each and every path our employees take during the day. Layer in the promise of machine learning (a computer's ability to analyze all of these inputs, provide an insight and optimize against it without any human intervention) and then some basic artificial intelligence (let it come to and create its own conclusions without the need for the folks in HR), and it's not far-fetched to imagine how employees might be reviewed and compensated based on their "true-performance" (what the computer says), instead of just showing up and doing the work (as we have done to date). Also, imagine just how far some semi-smart technology can take this. It could know what kind of performer you are even prior to taking the job (past data sets and analytics). It could provide a real-time dashboard, showing employees if they're up for the challenge of the day or falling behind. The technology laid out in the article above isn't just about how an individual performs. It will be used to see how teams operate, which spaces get used (and which don't) and on and on.

And, just like that, we have a strange reversal of fortunes where many will beg for more data about their customers, but beg even more aggressively for their employers to know less and less about their own performance. 

By Mitch Joel


February 16, 2017 9:46 PM

Is The Chief Marketing Officer A Company's Weakest Link?

Marketing has become a much more important corporate function.

There is no denying that. We live in a world where ad spending will reach close to $500 billion in 2017. Digital advertising had $17.6 billion in investment from US companies in the third quarter of 2016. 2017 will see over $75 billion in digital advertising spend. We are seeing many new competitive forces at play in the marketing services space - this includes the largest accounting and consulting firms, publishers offering services that are typically done in-house or by an agency, platforms selling marketing services and more. There is more consolidation, as the major marketing and communications holding companies continue both their acquisition and investment to growth strategies. Brands - more than ever - need strong marketing leaders, in a world where overall economic growth has been (mostly) flat (or single-digit growth) and technology, disruption and transformation are still turning markets upside down.

You would think that a company's Chief Marketing Officer would be an anchor in the c-suite and core to the brand's growth. You would be wrong. 

AdAge published the news item, CMOs Have Half the Tenure of CEOs, yesterday and the results are not confidence inspiring. Here are the highlights:

  • A CMO who has kept their position for more than four years is above average.
  • CMOs have the shortest average tenure in the c-suite.
  • That tenure (about 4 years) is half the average tenure of CEOs.
  • The position is plagued with high turnover.
  • Marketing leadership turnover soared last year with 177 appointments in the last two quarters of last year.
  • 2016 saw the highest turnover since the researchers started tracking it four years ago.
  • 60% of CMOs being tracked left for a "new opportunity."
Is it all bad news for the Chief Marketing Officer and their role in the organization?

Of course not. AdAge (and the researchers) acknowledge that the CMO role is in high demand, that CMOs tend to be very diverse professionals who get promoted quickly within the organization, and that it's sometimes the organization's inability to be aligned with the transformation that marketing requires in this day and age. Still, this is a huge problem. Regardless of whether or not the CMO is leaving for all of the right reasons or being shown the door, it sets the table for a problematic situation where the brand and consumer bears the consequence of this corporate version of musical chairs. Four years is not enough of a tenure to see a brand's full opportunity blossom. Business trends move quickly, the need to implement technology for the future and secure solid metrics in the coming quarter will never be met if the average CMO is busy looking for their next gig or being cherry-picked to do something else.

Where the marketing blame game lies.

We're seeing a growing shift in agency compensation models (performance-based and/or value-based compensation models) being pushed out by brands to agencies and media partners with the attitude of wanting a true partner that is invested in the brand's output. We're seeing a marketing department that is growing in terms of internal capabilities. We're seeing a marketing department that is spending on technology as if they were the IT department. We're seeing a marketing department that is pushing the accountability of their actions over to their media and agency partners to absolve them of any outcomes that don't render positive results. All of this is fair in love and war, but it's not acceptable in a world where the brand's leader isn't even planning to see things through. It would be easy to push the blame of bad marketing between the brand and their agency partners, this is not the issue to debate, at this point. Here's what is obvious: brands will not be nurtured to their full potential when the CMO changes with such frequency. It simply can't. It's all too frenetic.

Marketing is mission critical.

We need to agree on this. Management consultant, Peter Drucker, once famously said: "Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two-and only two-basic functions: marketing and innovation." The tenure of the Chief Marketing Officer needs to increase. Dramatically. We can't simply sit on the sidelines and accept this as a "new normal." It's too easy to blame this on the new world of work, and that we can't expect these highly sought-after professionals to sit around. No. We need more leaders to embody the spirit of the job title. Being a Chief Marketing Officer makes you the ultimate steward of the brand. A role that should not be taken lightly. A role that should not be assumed without a firm commitment to see things through. 

If we don't hold the Chief Marketing Officer accountable to their tenure, how can we expect to hold them accountable to the marketing budget?

By Mitch Joel


February 15, 2017 9:47 PM

Don't Throw Good Brand Money After Bad

This article could also be called, "who says you can't go home?" I was in Orlando this morning, presenting to the Retail Industry Leaders Association. I grabbed a coffee with an old friend, who is now running marketing for a major... Read more

By Mitch Joel


February 14, 2017 2:50 PM

It's Not Easy To Be A Loving Brand These Days

Be careful what you wish for. Never has a sentiment been so true like it is for brands these day. We have never lived in a more politically-driven and open-social environment at the same time. Brands should be spinning like... Read more

By Mitch Joel


February 13, 2017 8:55 AM

The Trouble With Twitter, Flying Uber Cars And More On This Week's CTRL ALT Delete Segment On CHOM 97.7 FM

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... Read more

By Mitch Joel


February 12, 2017 7:54 AM

Reinvent Yourself With James Altucher - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Episode #553 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. James Altucher is one of the best non-fiction writers that I know. He writes quality. He writes quantity. He... Read more

By Mitch Joel


February 11, 2017 5:44 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #347

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 (Solve for Interesting, Tilt the Windmill, HBS; chair of Strata, Startupfest, Pandemonio, and ResolveTO; Author of Lean Analytics and some other books), Hugh McGuire... Read more

By Mitch Joel