Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 14, 2014 6:51 AM

The Future Of Work

Episode #427 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

It's not just the marketing of a business that fascinates me. It's everything about the future of work. This includes the actual physical office spaces that we use (and, yes, that could be at home, Starbucks or even in the tallest building of the financial district). How will teams be structured? What will the leaders of the future look like? Is Mark Zuckerberg the prototype of the CEO? It's these same thoughts that consume Jacob Morgan. So much so, that he recently published a business book titled, The Future Of Work - Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders And Create A Competitive Organization. Jacob also wrote The Collaborative Organization in 2012 and advises many Fortune 1000 businesses on innovation and the future of work. So, if we live in a world where more and more people can start a business in their garage and sell a seven-person startup for billions of dollars, what does the future of work look and feel like? 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 #427.

By Mitch Joel


September 13, 2014 9:58 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #221

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:

  • Neoglyphics Promo. "Now we have a computer on our wrist, and sarcasm and vitriol in our feeds. But it wasn't always this way. Here's a 1995 promotional video for Neoglyphics - a Web design company. Watching this video a friend pointed me at made me remember just how idyllic things were, or maybe I'm just a grumpy old man. The world has changed so much that this is almost satire at this point. Oh, yeah, and if you're 20 you don't remember this. Hey kids! Get off my lawn!" (Alistair for Hugh).
  • It's Payback Time - Channel 4. "I was at the BBC this week. Every time I deal with them, I'm amazed at how much good stuff they do. Heck, their iPlayer volume goes to eleven (Really. It does.) Watch this video (which seems pretty timely, all things considered) before reading about it. Did I mention I love the BBC?" (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Regulate This! A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast - Freakonomics. "The 'sharing economy' (AirBnB, Lyft, Uber, etc) is butting up against government regulations. Great podcast talking to some of the players from both sides of the argument." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • The Rise and Fall of the Biggest Pot Dealer in New York City History - The New York Times. "This is an incredible story, more so for Montrealers who can appreciate better the kinds of characters here: Jimmy Cournoyer (as the New York Times, helpfully, notes, 'pronounced koorn-WAH-yay'), the Laval man in the middle, Mohawk smugglers in tiny boats,  a Laval gangster (on probation for killing another driver in a drunk driving accident in his Porsche) who gets a job driving an elderly lady to her medical appointments (while rebuilding his smuggling operation), mixed martial arts, lingerie models, Leonard DiCaprio, snowmobiles filled with pounds of pot and piles of cash, encrypted Blackberries, and a pissed-off ex-girlfriend who walks into a police station to unravel the whole thing... Breaking Bad, eat your heart out (and please: someone make a great television series based on this story)." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Management intuition for the next 50 years - McKinsey & Company. "The next 50 years... how about the next five? We live in a world where the iPad didn't exist four years ago and now we're into wearables, connected devices and so much more. If you think that the last five years were crazy, just wait and see what the next five years will deliver. We're experiencing some major shifts in how a business must act. This is a long read, but it's a great read. It's a little academic, but the point is clear: the stuff that I wrote about in CTRL ALT Delete is real... and it is fundamental to getting businesses to understand a very different future, when it comes to product development and revenues. For some, a piece like this is going to freak them out. For others, it's a nice little peek into where the true opportunities are for those in business... or for those thinking that now may seem like the perfect time to do a startup. Special thanks to Deb Hinton for pointing this one out to me." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Why Indie Bookstores Are on the Rise Again - Inc. Magazine. "Well, isn't this interesting. It turns out that when the big book retailers went public, it forced them to be innovative, high-growth and chase Amazon. Could that have done them in? This is strange. We all figured that these big book store chains were set to destroy the independent book stores. Maybe we were all wrong. It looks like the massive dinosaurs are becoming extinct and this is paving way for a new type of species. Welcome to the age of growth for independent book sellers?" (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


September 12, 2014 5:17 PM

History Predicted It... We're All Cyberpunks Now

How much of you is technology... how much of you is human?

No idea how this came across my radar, but - like you - I often find myself (late at night) deep down in the YouTube rabbit hole. There you are watching something that somebody sent you for work, and the next thing you know, it's three in the morning and you're watching things like this. Cyberpunk was originally coined in 1983. It was a term for individuals who were using technology to build their own world... on their own rules. Much of the output was seen as illegal and - if you were paying attention to Apple's recent announcements - you could easily see just how accurate this underground, indie and self-governed group of individuals were when thinking about our future and how much technology would be a part of us.

If you want to take a few steps back to see how far we have come...

This is a five-part, one hour documentary that looked to uncover the cyberpunk movement. What it is... what they were doing... why they were doing it... and what they hoped to get out of it. What seemed like a group of wild marauders, now feels more like a group of architects, designers and artists who were fighting to build our present state. Strangely enough, what they're speaking about in this documentary doesn't seem so far fetched in today's context (you could even argue that's a mild version of where we are at). In fact, we have moved things along at a much quicker clip than these cyberpunks could have ever imagined. What they were attempting to do has now - to certain degree - become a part of how we function as a society. When people scoff at robotics, artificial intelligence and the power of data, they may want to spend an hour watching this documentary, and thinking about how it wasn't all that long ago when everything that we're doing today seemed so strange, foreign and unlikely to happen.

Here it is: a documentary on Cyberpunk (and a lesson that everyone interested in business, marketing and innovation must watch)...

By Mitch Joel


September 11, 201411:34 PM

Native Advertising Is Everybody's Problem

Have you jumped on board the native advertising train yet?

There are few words more buzzworthy these days than "native advertising" (that's a lie... "big data" is probably worse). Yesterday morning, I moderated a panel discussion at Content Marketing World in Cleveland titled, The Hottest Term in Content Marketing: The Opportunities in Native Advertising. It was a very fast-paced panel featuring Doug Kessler (Velocity Partners) Brant McLean (Director of Brand Partnerships, Tumblr), Stacy Martinet (Chief Marketing Officer, Mashable) and David Spiegel (VP of Brand Strategy & Social Publishing, Buzzfeed). I was asked to moderate this session, because back in February 2013, I wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review titled, We Need a Better Definition of "Native Advertising". In my mind, I figured that this panel discussion would clear the air, and bring everyone - brands, agencies and media players - on to the same page.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

None of the panelists could agree upon a set definition for native advertising. In fact, most of the panelists felt like it's simply a buzzword. Like we have moved on from social media to content marketing to native advertising in a snap, and all that we are really doing is polishing the advertising turd... as it were. The best description for native advertising that I could come up with - after spending a few hours post panel discussion thinking about it - is this: native advertising is content that is paid for by a brand and published on one, specific, site... the same site that created the content in conjunction with the brand. That's basically it. As sad as that may seem. No standards. No rules. Anything goes. It's every brand for themselves. Still, there is an enthusiasm for the advertising opportunity. That by bringing together the brand and the publisher, the results can be pretty amazing. Don't believe me? Check out what Buzzfeed and Purina pulled off with Dear Kitten:

And you thought the Internet was nothing but cat videos ;)

There's a bigger question here, of course (there always is): do brands still need agencies if they're going to partner with the publishers and work together - hand in hand - on the output? For a long while, agencies acted as the outsourced marketing department for brands. This was done, because businesses either couldn't afford their own, or didn't feel the need to have the center of excellence within the organization. Over the years, things have shifted. Most brands now have much more sophisticated marketing departments working in conjunction with their respective agencies. As native advertising continues to gain momentum, companies like Buzzfeed, Facebook, Tumblr, Mashable and many others are getting into the creative strategy and services business. Earlier in the week, I also had the chance to be in-conversation with Buzzfeed founder, Jonah Peretti, at a private marketing function. Having him describe to this audience of CMOs the production, editorial and creative offerings that Buzzfeed provides to brands as part of their services, made me realize that now - more than ever - the dynamics of what gets marketing to the consumer is more complex than ever before. Peretti - and the panel at Content Marketing World - all agreed that agencies still play a critical role in making things happen, but they also acknowledged that the relationships are getting more complicated and fuzzy as brands, agencies and publishers have tremendous crossover and overlap in terms of services and offerings.

It's complicated.

It's not just the bizarre love triangle of brands, agencies and publishers that exists. As a brand, when you're playing in the native advertising space, you are spending a whole lot of time, energy and attention on one, specific, publisher trying to figure out what works. Most of the major players on the panel agreed that native advertising is not a silver bullet, but rather much more like an iterative process of trying to figure out what might work for a specific audience, and how to tweak something when a piece of content doesn't connect. From the brand's perspective, it's not just the struggle in getting something like this funded and off the ground, but it's also a struggle to figure out who should own this process. Is it the brand, the media company, the advertising agency, the digital marketing agency, the PR agency or the production companies who should be leading these types of initiatives? It would be easy (and obvious) for me to raise my hand and request that all such initiatives be driven by the digital marketing agency, but let's face it: if something is working and gaining traction, everyone is going to make a run at it. In a world like ours, every company is looking for new sources of income and something unique to hang their hat on. So, what's a brand to do? Two weeks ago, I published a post titled, A Twitch In Time, that was less about Amazon's billion dollar acquisition of Twitch and much more about a potentially new way for brands to think. Most brands are looking to build newsrooms as a place to tell more human and real stories. Maybe the opportunity is for brands to not just think about creating and publishing content, but more about how to become their own media network. If brands build their own broadcasting networks, these types of infrastructures will require a bunch of new services and offerings that could bring better client-agency-publisher integration along with it.

This begs the question: is the future less about native advertising and much more about brands becoming a network with their own studio?   

By Mitch Joel


September 10, 201410:00 PM

When TV Becomes An Accessory To YouTube

Everyone is talking about video.

Have you noticed how on Facebook, some videos in your newsfeed start on their own now? You don't have to click on them. They just start. For some, this is very upsetting and disruptive to the Facebook experience. If this is you, step aside. You're in the minority (and yes, I say this with full acknowledgement that if you're spending money on mobile data, this newly added features can be both draining and expensive. If this is causing you pain, please do this). Facebook is capturing consumer's attention, and this is a peek into just how powerful online video's growth continues to mature... and just how big of a business this is (and will continue to be) for marketers.

It's bigger (and more important) than you think.

MediaPost ran three separate news items in the past few days that hint at the ever-evolving landscape of online video:

  1. Facebook Rivals YouTube, Tops 1 Billion Videos Per Day. That's a steep climb, and this sudden growth can be directly attributed to the auto-play function. From the article: "From May to July, Facebook said video views have surged 50%, with more than 65% of the total taking place on mobile. That underscores the broader shift the social network has seen from desktop to mobile use in the last couple of years, with mobile now also accounting for the bulk (62%) of ad revenue. After introducing auto-play video earlier this year, Facebook noted in a blog post today that the feature has led people to discover 'significantly more content' as a result. And when advertisers designate video views as the objective of their campaigns, that step translates into up to a 60% decrease in cost-per-view for video ads, the company said."
  2. YouTube Revenue To Hit $1.13 Billion From Video Advertising This Year. To this day, most media pundits still see Google as a one trick pony (search advertising). Seeing over a billion dollars roll in from video advertising in one year on YouTube points to something very interesting: Google dominates search advertising (which it does). Google suddenly starts a strong contender in the video advertising space (which is, exactly, what this is starting to look like). Think about Facebook and Instagram, and what they will have to do to build a similar engine of advertising. From the article: "Google's YouTube will generate an estimated $1.13 billion in revenue from video advertising this year - up 39% from last year, per research firm eMarketer. Although its market share will not substantially increase, the revenue from ads that run on the site - excluding banners, search and other ads, alongside traffic and content acquisition costs - will grow... The numbers suggest that YouTube fails to monetize the majority of its traffic, per eMarketer." Imagine the model here. Over one billion dollars in revenue - which is nearly forty percent more than last year - and they fail to monetize the vast majority of these video. A lot of that has to do with video length and consumer engagement, but we are starting to see a marketplace for longer videos, as YouTube channels become more popular and as more and more consumers are starting to watch YouTube on their connected TVs, mobile devices, etc...
  3. Mobile Video Audience Nears 115 Million. This is - without question - the most significant component to online video's growth and continued success. From the article: "The U.S. audience watching video on smartphones in the second quarter grew to 114.4 million - up 18% from 97 million in the year-earlier period, according to the latest Nielsen cross-platform report. The amount of time spent viewing video on phones increased as well to an average of one hour, 41 minutes a month in the quarter, from 1:09 a year ago.
    Still, that figure is dwarfed by the average time Americans spent watching traditional TV, at 142:38 per month, down slightly from 146:37 a year ago. Mobile also lags the desktop Internet as a video platform, where people spent 10:35 watching video, up from 6:28 a year ago. However, the mobile video audience is catching up to the 145.5 million on the Web, which is down from 150 million a year ago."
    Don't frown. This is massive and it's also indicative of just how long (and wide) of a runway mobile video still has to go. Think about cheaper mobile data (it's coming). Think about faster network speeds (it's coming). Think about more and more connected devices (it's coming, too). This is a massive audience already at 115 million, but it's still minor compared to TV. How long do you think that will last?

Can you smell the opportunity?

By Mitch Joel


September 9, 2014 8:52 PM

Be An Advocate For Your Consumer

Who doesn't want their brand to be more likeable? Ultimately, we are in service of other people. This makes a lot of marketing skeptics shake their collective heads in disbelief, but it is true. It is how I feel. I... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 8, 201411:23 AM

Tomorrow Apple Sets The Table For Mobile, Wearables And Beyond

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


September 7, 2014 7:15 AM

Everbody Writes

Episode #426 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. When everybody is writing, it can be challenging to find good writing (let alone, great writing). Ann Handley... Read more

By Mitch Joel


September 6, 2014 7:54 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #220

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


September 5, 201410:41 PM

What My Podcast Is Not

I can run off at the mouth quite a bit... especially, if you let me. I like to talk. I like to write. It's what I do. It's not for everyone. If you're reading this, maybe it is for you... Read more

By Mitch Joel