Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 15, 201411:57 PM

Google's Third Wave Of Innovation

Is it normal that a search engine is buying up all of the robotics and drone companies?

If you're in the marketing profession, you have to be scratching your head at the moves that Google has made over the past little while. It's hard to reconcile how a company that was founded on a search engine (and then optimizing an advertising platform so efficiently that it drove them to a $350 billion market cap) could be spending its war chest on technology so nascent and future-focused. If Google's main form of revenue is advertising and licensing software, where will the ads be going on all of these robots and drones?

Google's first wave of innovation.

Google has gone through two dramatic waves of innovation (with many nuances and smaller ones in between). It's important to understand that in phase one, Google mastered search. The ability to organize the diverse and divergent pieces of data, content and information that were being created in a non-formulaic way across the Internet. It was everything from programs to articles, and (through the years) it's hard to imagine how we would find anything (let alone remember stuff) in a world where we can "Google it." The problem with search, of course, is that there was no significant revenue in helping to organize all of the world's information. While Google didn't invent keyword-based advertising, they have certainly mastered it. Ushering in the era of performance-based advertising, they nurtured search engine marketing into becoming one of the most effective forms of direct-response advertising. People searching for content would be exposed to contextually-based text ads that did not interrupt the search experience. On top of that, the ads would be sold to brands and media agencies in an auction-based mode where the cost would be charged only if the consumer clicked on the ad (showed interest). Over the years, Google has expanded the offering to individual's website wishing to run these types of ads in lieu of traditional banner advertising. From there, the company has made several strategic acquisitions to build their GDN (Google Display Network). The acquisition of YouTube in 2006 is also significant in this first wave of Google's innovation. Years later, they are beginning to understand the types of commercials that works in the online video world as TrueView continues to learn which ads the consumers are watching (and which ones they are skipping). Within a few years, TrueView will become as efficient at performance based commercial advertising as keywords have become. To put the first wave of Google's Web dominance into perspective, comScore Media Metrix's rank of the top 50 U.S. desktop Web properties for February 2014 tells the tale: In a world of over 222 million unique visitors, Google's website account for over 187 million of them.

Google's second wave of innovation.

Back in 2006, Google acquired a lesser-known mobile operating system called Android. It was, at the time, an acquisition that perplexed the media pundits. It was a bold play and one that has - without question - enabled Google to become a dominant player in the mobile space. Now, Google doesn't just build applications that run on a mobile-enabled platform (which they do), but they own the actual platform on which our mobile connectivity is playing out. As consumers move from desktops PCs and laptops to smartphone and tablets, Google has continued to innovate and own the mobile landscape, and this includes being hyper-competitive in relation to Apple and the staggering success of the iPhone and iPad. Still, Android (and the supporting Google applications and mobile websites) are the 800-hundred pound gorilla in mobile. Adding some data to this, comScore's February 2014 U.S. smartphone subscriber market share demonstrates just how much of the mobile Web Google owns: While Apple ranked as the top smartphone manufacturer (41.3%), Android led as the number one smartphone platform with over 52% of the market shares. What makes this more staggering, is that Google sites hit close to 90% of the entire smartphone browsing and app audience. In short, they own mobile as well. 

Welcome to Google's third wave of innovation.

How does a company like Google grow? The opportunity to scale becomes increasingly difficult (will another 30 million people using a particular app truly help them?). The answer lies in in connecting the last mile of humanity that is currently not on the Internet. It's nothing new. We have been talking about the digital divide for decades (the chasm that exists between the haves and the have nots). In fact, Google's Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, discusses this very topic in depth in his business book, The New Digital Age - Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business (co-authored with another Googler, Jared Cohen). There are close to five billion people not connected to the Internet. There are countless appliances that aren't "smart" or online (just yet). That is the kind of scale that Google must now focus on. For that, Google is pushing the envelope of innovation towards drones, robotics and artificial intelligence. Massive and risky bets that will enable a new type of connected consumer. Drones will enable Google to deliver connectivity to that massive last mile. Robotics is primarily based on the idea that we can get machines to work, think and do things somewhat autonomous to human intervention. This requires a new kind of computing coding and architecture - one that is based on machine-learning capabilities (yes, programming a computer to teach something to another computer and having each successive version be able to get better and teach more). While everyone is focused on Google's most recent acquisition of Titan Aerospace for their drones, or that they have bought eight (maybe more) robotics companies in the past short while (including the very popular Boston Dynamics), not enough people have spent enough time thinking about why they acquired DeepMind in late January.

Getting computers to think better.

It has been reported that Google spent close to $500 million for DeepMind (which doesn't seem like much, if you consider that it also paid over $3 billion for Nest not that along ago). DeepMind was in stealth mode when purchased, but we have been told that the London based technology was developing artificial intelligence to help computers learn and operate like humans. Couple that with connecting more devices, purchasing drones and robots and you can let your mind wander. From a marketer's perspective, this may still sound quizzical and off-brand, but to anyone willing to expand their horizons, it is clear that Google is a company not willing to rely simply on media as a business model, but rather much more interested in technology and connecting the word. This is important for brands to understand as well. Perhaps the real future of marketing is not in just getting more efficient with advertising dollars, but in following Google's footsteps to help connect your our brands to more people through technology on a more global scale.

The above posting is my monthly column on marketing innovation for Strategy Magazine. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:

By Mitch Joel

April 14, 2014 9:58 AM

CTRL ALT Delete - Weekly Technology And Digital Media Review - CHOM FM #27

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:

  • Facebook is now throttling a lot of the content that brands and people see.
  • Personal pages on Facebook are not the same of brand pages.
  • Brands have done fan acquisition strategies and now they have to pay for posts.
  • The consumer doesn't decide what it is seeing, Facebook decides.
  • Facebook is quickly becoming a paid media channel (yes, the free lunch is over).
  • We need to build channels that we (brands and individuals) can own.
  • Remember: not everyone who follows you ever saw all of your content (there was always throttling).
  • The advertising model changes as Facebook and Twitter try to monetize. We're moving from a scarcity model to a model of abundance.
  • The value of advertising changes.
  • Online advertising has surpassed television advertising this year.
  • At the Master's you can't use your phone, but you can do the Howard Stern "baba-booey!"
  • Can we put an end to the #selfie already?
  • Follow-up to the iMedia Summit from last week.
  • App of the week: Shots.

Listen here...

By Mitch Joel


April 13, 201411:11 AM

The Best That Social Media Has To Offer

Episode #405 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Jay Baer is back and he's doing what most people in Social Media are not doing: making big and smart moves (and good money, as well I am sure). He took his last business book, Youtility, a sound it off to create, Youtility For Accountants (with more industry-specific versions to come). And, as if that weren't enough, he also recently launched, Social Pros All-Stars, which is an ebook, Slideshare presentation and trading cards of social media brand professionals. Very smart and strategic marketing (which industry pro wouldn't keep their own trading card front and center on their desk, making Jay and his team top of mind?). If you have yet to fall in love with his blog, Convince And Convert, or his first book, The Now Revolution (which he co-wrote with Amber Naslund) or his podcast, Social Pros, you don't know what you're missing. 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 Twist Image Podcast #405.

By Mitch Joel

April 12, 2014 1:57 PM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #199

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:

  • Swedish Pop Mafia - Pacific Standard. "Normally I'd route musical stuff to Mitch, but Hugh, I think you'll like the unintended-consequences feel of this. It's about why Sweden drives modern pop music. Sweden, you say? 'What Hollywood is to movies and what Silicon Valley is to computing, Stockholm is to the production of pop.' And all because the country's elders, in the 1940s, tried to put baby in a corner." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Our Comrade The Electron. "This is the annotated transcript of an amazing talk given in February at Webstock, a conference in New Zealand. It's an epic talk about Communism, the Theremin, and how electricity concentrates power in more than just technical ways. I only wish I'd seen the talk live. Since you've been talking about Big Data, Mitch, this seems like a fitting anecdote." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Why UPS Trucks Don't Turn Left - Priceonomics. "Data should drive your decisions, as Alistair (co-author of Lean Analytics - aka the 'Measure-It Bible') will tell you - if you give him half a chance. In the case of UPS, data drove the company to make an edict for all drivers: never, ever turn left, no matter what." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Carpets For Airports. "Mitch logs more hours in the air than anyone else I know. And, I wonder, does Mitch sometimes ask himself, before he gets on a plane, 'What will the carpets look like at O'Hare?' Now he can find out, so he isn't surprised when he arrives. This, dear readers, is what the Internet was built for." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Why 40% of us think we're in the top 5% - Smart Planet. "Here's the thing about data: the more we get of it and the more we're able to take these disparate data sets and meld them into a bigger bucket, we start seeing some truisms. These are the types of truisms that most of us are (presently and sadly) ignoring. Little things like: our gut decisions are often wrong, how we can't truly identify genius and, probably most disturbing, how dumb we actually are. Data rules, you morons! ;)" (Mitch for Alistair).
  • French say 'non' to work email after 6 p.m. - cNet. "Ahh, who doesn't want to spend their entire childhood and teenage years studying in an old school education institution that is making young people miserable, feeling inadequate and, ultimately, forcing them into a regiment of memorization of things they should never need to remember? I see this often when you look at more traditional European countries and their non-progressive school curriculums The good news? You get to graduate and become a 'fonctionnaires,' (if you live in France). A place that makes insane rules like this. I have a better idea: why stop at email? Just shut down the electricity for all fonctionnaires so nobody has to do anything? Alternately, you could just say, 'hey, what if we let these adults make their own rules and attempt to find their own balance? Wow, what decade are we living in? How stupid do we think that people are?" (Mitch for Hugh).

Now it's your turn: in the comment section below pick one thing that you saw this week that inspired you and share it.

By Mitch Joel

April 11, 2014 4:08 PM

The Sad (And Hilarious) State Of Silicon Valley

This is Not Safe For Work (NSFW, as the cool kids say).

I laughed, cried and almost could not watch this show in its entirety (it's both true and painful if you have spent some time out there). It is the first episode (season one) of a show called, Silicon Valley, on HBO.  The show  was created by three guys - once of them being Mike Judge from Beavis And Butt-head and King Of The Hill fame (Silicon Valley is not animation). As I warned above, the content is pretty raw... and hilarious. YouTube has the entire first episode posted online.

In case you haven't seen it, here is the first episode of Silicon Valley...

By Mitch Joel

April 10, 201411:53 PM

My Voice Is My Password

Is your head bleeding? Is your heart bleeding? Here's my thought (and, I say this with full disclosure that I am no IT expert and have limited knowledge of the hacking space beyond a personal interest in better understanding technology... Read more

By Mitch Joel

April 9, 2014 4:31 PM

Some Questions About Your Questionable Content

Marketers, we have a problem... Do you know how long an effective Facebook post should be? If I told you forty characters, what would your reaction be? A tweet should be 100 characters (even though Twitter affords you 140 of... Read more

By Mitch Joel

April 8, 2014 7:58 PM

TED And The Art of Loyalty

People don't like to admit just how addicted they are to their smartphones. I won't be the first to blog about how many people are quite sensual with their devices. Don't laugh. Think about the way you caress, touch, and... Read more

By Mitch Joel

April 7, 2014 1:42 PM

CTRL ALT Delete - Weekly Technology And Digital Media Review - CHOM FM #26

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... Read more

By Mitch Joel

April 6, 2014 1:23 PM

The Perils Of Social Media

Episode #404 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. I first heard the voice of Eric Schwartzman over a decade ago as a contributor to the For... Read more

By Mitch Joel