Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 29, 2015 6:36 PM

Do The Kind Thing

How do you want it? Cheap, fast and great. Fine, but you can only choose two of those things.

It's one of those famous business lines. You can't have it all... or can you? Daniel Lubetzky wanted to create a snack that was both tasty and healthy, convenient and wholesome, in a company that is both economically sustainable and socially impactful. Crazy? A long shot? Over a decade later, KIND has done it. They have an "and" business philosophy to challenge commonly held assumptions. This thinking has created one of the fastest growing healthy snacks business in North America. Most recently, Lubetzsky took part in a conversation at Google to discuss his business philosophy and leadership, which has also been tuned into a bestselling business book called, Do The KIND Thing. In a strange twist of fate, I first sampled these delicious KIND bars, while visiting the Googleplex many years ago... and I was hooked. KIND's business wasn't always sweet and filled with treats. It's an amazing story about leadership, vision, positioning and hard work. Something we all need to think that much more about.

Do The KIND Thing - In conversation with CEO and founder, Daniel Lubetzky. 

By Mitch Joel


May 28, 201511:48 PM

Where Consumers Spend Their Time Is Where Advertisers Should Spend Their Money

This was the argument that was debated over twenty years ago.

Why do we have to keep having the same argument? We love dogma, don't we? Yesterday, Mary Meeker (from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers) did her thing. And, "her thing" is one of the most important (and highly anticipated) reports on Internet trends. She brings it forth every year, and every year there is always tons of data that points to what consumers are doing and the huge gap between what they're doing and how businesses are adapting (hint: it's digital, baby!). Personally, I have been following her reports since the very early days, and use them as a compass for how to directionally adjust the function of Mirum, and how to better serve our clients. In the early days of this report, I remember thinking to myself that as these trends become more and more pervasive, and as the data becomes more widely accepted, that the information provided within it would diminish in value, because the gap between what users are doing and how businesses are connecting would shrink.

That is wrong.

There were two pieces of data from the Internet Trends 2015 presentation that need to be highlighted:

1. Mobile data usage rose 69 percent last year, and 55 percent of mobile data traffic is from video.

This may seem obvious, but the implications are astonishing. For years, companies like Cisco (and others who analyze the plumbing of the Internet) have said that once we get to the point that video can be delivered cheaply, in high definition and streaming across the network, that this would be the real moment of convergence. A true inflection point. The point in time when video content can be as easily served on a smartphone, as it is to your desktop cable box in your den. Well, we're almost there. The one caveat, of course, is that data is still expensive, but that continues to adjust and will become cheaper and cheaper.

2. The mobile ad industry is still short $25 billion. Mobile commands 24 percent of time spent with media but accounts for only 8 percent of ad dollars spent. 

If I had hair... it would be on fire. We had the exact same thing happen in the early days of the Web. We saw this massive shift of consumers, time spent on the Web and the advertising dollars were not shifting at all. History repeats itself and, sadly, brands are failing to learn from their mistakes. Here it is... in cold, hard and plain facts. One quarter of a consumer's time is spent on mobile, but only eight percent of all advertising dollars are placed where they are. Now, it's easy to say that mobile advertising is not as sophisticated, powerful or even effective as television, print... or whatever. Still, there is a need for brands to do two things: reach the mass or reach the mass within their very unique niche. The equality of time spent and the media push towards it deserves an equalization.

The only thing holding brands back today is dogma.

There is no other way to explain it. Brands were so slow to adopt the Web as a media channel and raw business opportunity, that we're close to two decades in and they are still struggling with what we, at Mirum, call digital transformation. Now, this. The data doesn't lie. The usage - as well all know - is only going to increase in this area. Look no further than where the venture capital money is going. Look no further than where any significant investments are being done in the marketing space (it's in technology, in case you were wondering). This data is not going to change course. It's not going backwards. It's going to increase. In fact, if I may be so bold, it is the data points of mobile time spent and the level of traffic that is going to eat everything. The technology and connectivity is going to get so much faster, better and cheaper that the idea of plugging something into a wall for connectivity will seem barbaric... or even having to have that content delivered over anything but the air. The idea that any device is not connected to the Internet will seem ridiculous. It is what it is.

The big question: when will brands learn?

By Mitch Joel


May 27, 201511:34 PM

The Line Being Drawn Between Smartphones And Tablets

Human beings are an intriguing group.

What does advertising do? Well, if you believe the very first episode of the very first season of the acclaimed television show, Mad Men, the answer is simple: happiness. Advertising sells the notion of happiness. Use this, buy that and be happy. That's the purpose. That's it. Love it or hate it. Maybe things were simpler back in those days. Maybe they've changed so dramatically over the past two decades, because of how much technology and new media channels have disrupted the broadcasting model. It would be (somewhat) easy to defend either side in a public debate. Still, it's hard to argue that making an ad connect, create value and, ultimately, create a point of conversion is getting increasingly more complex.

How many screens are there and how complex is the new marketing mix?

In my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete (which came out in a trade paperback version earlier this month), I make the argument that we no longer live in the three screen world (TV, computer and mobile devices), but rather a one screen world. The spin, in simplistic terms, is that the consumer chooses. The only screen that matters to them is the screen that is in front of them. Screens are everyone, they are cheap (or getting cheaper), they are connected and they are able to be interacted with. This, coupled with the context of how and where the consumer is, creates a different dynamic for marketers and advertisers. On one hand, the brand messaging has be consistent as they multi-platform and multi-action seamlessly through these cycles of screens. On the other hand, each type of consumer engagement is being done with a different mindset (not just consumption), and must be treated differently. In fact, it's harder and harder to define what, exactly, "mobile" means.

Are consumers in a fixed location or on the go?

Even that kind of simplistic approach can be problematic. How many times have you found yourself lying in bed at home for hours on end flicking around on an iPad? So, you're on a mobile device, but you're in a fixed location that would be no different from the good old days of being lumped in front of the TV on your couch in the living room. So, if the confusion is real... and it is, do marketers need to be super-slicing their ad budgets to be reflective of this complexity, or are they better off creating two lines of budgets that can be delineated between when a consumer is passive with media or active with their media (another core thought that I delve much deeper into in CTRL ALT Delete).

The one screen world requires a one screen ad budget approach. 

That was my initial prognosis. That prognosis could be wrong, if you ask brand marketing executives. This morning, AdWeek published an article titled, Redefining Mobile: Smartphones, Tablets Increasingly Have Separate Ad Budgets. If you're like me, it's the kind of headline that you have to stop and read twice. It's also the kind of headline that could leave you scratching your head in wonder. Here's the common thought that the average consumer might say when asked about the difference between their smartphone and their tablets: one is just a bigger version of the other. I enjoy consumption more on the bigger screen (or even working on it). Truth? Not so sure. The smartphone giants are creating smartphones with bigger and better screens. This is forcing a new kind of behaviour, where people no longer want to lug around their tablets. That's right, tablets could quickly become as "fixed" as those desktop PCs that you have collecting dust in that strange room you have labelled as your "home office," even though the entire house is wi-fi enabled... and you can work from your sundeck as easily as you can from the bathroom.

According to the AdWeek article: 

"Most people agree regular tablet use has declined among on-the-go consumers compared to one or two years ago. Research shows that people increasingly use their tablets at home. And worldwide tablet shipments fell 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, the first decline since the devices hit the market in 2010. When people do take them out in public, it's often to entertain a child during car rides or to watch shows on Hulu or Netflix during a trip. They're typically not shopping in Target or Walmart with an iPad in hand or watching video on their Microsoft Surface in between meetings--they're doing that on their phones instead."

So, just how different is the tablet from the smartphone when it comes to marketing?

A fascinating consumer behavior that not enough brands are paying attention to... but they should. If this is true, perhaps we are in transition. A place where most mobile ads are really about creating an impression, but as the screens grow and the usage adapts to it (which does include the actually usability and functionality) we will see a dramatic change in what advertising can do when you hop from the smallest of screens to the bigger ones. When you need to use only one hand to manipulate the screen instead of two. Regardless, this idea that tablets are not just bigger versions of smartphones, and that smartphones are getting bigger with more robust capabilities must be studied, tested and optimized for brands.

If we don't, we're going to continue to debate the baseline value of simply advertising on these devices, and that would be a tragic mistake.

By Mitch Joel


May 25, 2015 7:54 AM

The Importance Of Viral Videos... Or Not

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio broadcasting 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 to SoundCloud, if you're interested in hearing more of me blathering away. 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:

  • Do viral videos still have any value to brands and businesses? We live in a world where videos get million of views one day and disappear within a few hours. It used to be that viral videos took time to have any traction. Now, in the real-time world of the "now," what is the half-life and the value of it? Also, isn't it strange how videos that went viral a few years ago, can now make a comeback in places like Facebook and, suddenly, it has a second life.
  • You will never leave Facebook... ever again. Last week, the online social network launched something called, Instant Articles, which allows publishers like the New York Times, National Geographic, and the Atlantic to not just have an article attached with a link to a piece, but to embed and design their articles directly on Facebook. This is a contentious issue. While it seems good for users, the publishers are now trapped on Facebook. Facebook keeps the reader, the data and everything else. All the publisher really gets is access to an audience. This is strange, if you consider that the publisher's historical power was always the ability to deliver an audience to an advertiser. Confused? You should be
  • App of the week: The Great Suspender for Google Chrome browsers.

Listen here...

By Mitch Joel


May 24, 2015 8:51 AM

The Minimal Viable Brand

Episode #463 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

If you look at Silicon Valley, there is this notion that advertising is dead, marketing no longer works and everything is about finding these young unicorns who can leverage data and analytics to growth hack a company to success. This shores up into two thoughts: One, build it and they will come (because the product is so great). Two, growth hacking enables a business to not care about the brand, but simply focus on acquiring users. Any marketing professional knows that this is not the case. Brands matter more than ever. Denise Lee Yohn wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review titled, Start-Ups Need a Minimum Viable Brand. She is also the author of, What Great Brands Do - The Seven Brand-Building Principles That Separate The Best From The Rest, is a former Sony Electronics executive and advertising agency professional (who worked on Burger King, Land Rover and Unilever). So, what is the minimal viable brand that a business needs? 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 #463.

By Mitch Joel


May 23, 2015 8:04 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #257

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... Read more

By Mitch Joel


May 22, 2015 7:11 AM

If You're Really Interested In Podcasting...

One of the highlights of the TED conference this year was... ...Watching Roman Mars record an episode of his audio podcast, 99% Invisible, live in front of an audience. The topic of his TED Talk/podcast recording session was all about... Read more

By Mitch Joel


May 21, 2015 7:39 AM

The Art Of LEGO

"What do you want to do for a living?" All of us grapple with who we have become. The work that we do defines us. As a parent, this is the question that we most fantasize about. As an adult, this... Read more

By Mitch Joel


May 19, 2015 7:17 AM

The CEO Series

How are things going? It's a question that I get asked a lot these days. Twist Image became a part of the WPP family about a year ago, we changed our creative direction, we rebranded and became a founding member... Read more

By Mitch Joel


May 17, 2015 9:21 AM

Storytelling For Startups

Episode #462 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. I first met Mark Evans close to fifteen years ago. We were both speaking during a three-day conference dedicated... Read more

By Mitch Joel