Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 30, 201511:01 PM

Marketing Needs To Be About What's New

The most creative ideas win.

If you learned nothing else from all of the news coming out of the Cannes Lions advertising festival that our industry just wrapped, it's that big, hairy, audacious and creative ideas still get the most attention in a world where programmatic, marketing automation and data technology services seem to be the big plays most investors in marketing are looking at. Great creative work has become closer to art than anything else. Still, the change in marketing is everywhere. As advanced as some brand marketers and agencies have become, it is still early days for disruption.

Don't believe me?

If a brand needs to implement a brand new data and analytics platform, who initiates, makes the call and handles the implementation? Is that happening out of the Chief Marketing Officer's office, or is it coming from the IT or online channel line of business (which is, typically, a part of the IT team)? There is no doubt that marketers have leaned more heavily on the side of analytics and predictive platforms to make their work more relevant and effective, but the bridge between technology, data, analytics, sales performance and marketing is often still a chasm within most organizations.

This is not about Mad Men vs. Math Men.

It is about the fact that advertising - which used to be the driving output of a marketing initiative - is moving closer to being "just the creative." Why is this? Historically, we used ads not just to sell products and services, but to point to and say, "see, this is what our marketing looks like!" It's harder to do this in a world where a paid search result can often generate more activation than a television spot. The landscape continues to change for marketers... dramatically. Now, the marketing department isn't just responsible for ensuring that the ad agency is putting their budgets to good use, they're suddenly responsible for being the leaders of change within the organization. That's a complex place to be, no matter the size of the organization.

Marketers are the ones who can demonstrate to the brand what's new... and why it matters. 

How do you really think about change within your organization. If there's one quote that constantly rolls around in my brain, it's the one that I discovered in Tom Peters' amazingly brilliant book, Re-Image! - Business Excellence In A Disruptive Age (published in 2003):

"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less." General Eric Shinseki - Chief of Staff, U. S. Army (Retired).

We're apprehensive about change. Change is easy to talk about. Change is hard to do. Take a look back at the myriad of editorial and news pieces covering the Cannes Lions, and there's one message that remains blatantly clear: marketers need to change and adapt their business (both brand marketers and agencies), but there is a reluctance in many cases, a slow movement towards that change for most, and total ignorance for an ever larger set of companies. 

The one thing about change: technology.

That's the most fascinating discovery in all of this talk. It's not about how creative the team members are. It's not about access to budgets to make things happen. It's not about brands enabling their agencies to do better work. These were the commonplace issues for decades. Now, it's always about technology. Whether that technology powers the internal team, or whether it's about using technology to better connect creative ideas to consumers. The biggest announcements were those that had technology as the main theme.

So, is technology really driving brands to be more successful?

Marketing is an insights-driven business. Technology has opened up a pandora's box of insights for all of us to use. So, when brands are looking for a new way to think about their business - and how it connects to consumers - it's easy to look at change, innovation and technology as the key drivers for success in business. We can't just push creativity to the bottom of this list. We can't just make advertising the creative output. Clearly, there needs to be a more symbiotic model in place. This means that creativity isn't everything any more... and that's an important place for brands to be. Marketers need to elevate their brand conversations, and stop splicing them into either "technology" or "creativity" buckets. When you look at which brands are really winning (and Cannes Lions showcased many of them), it really was about the brands that have become open to the idea of living and breathing in the world of "what's new." As a digital marketing professional, this is a beautiful thing. As someone on the agency side of this industry, it's even more perfect.

Consumers want what's new. Brands need to embrace what's new. Agencies need to deliver to brands what's new.

By Mitch Joel


June 29, 2015 9:46 AM

Should Authors Be Paid By The Book Or The Page?

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:

  • If you ever needed a reason to switch your old Hotmail or Yahoo email address over to Google's Gmail, this may be the reason. Have ever written an email, hit the "send" button and suddenly realized that you made a huge mistake, sent it to the wrong person or said something that you should not have (or all three of those)? Ugh... that sinking pit feeling in your stomach, and then trying to figure out how you're going to backpedal on it. Well, Gmail just released the ability to "unsend" an email. Although the functionality has been available in their "Labs" section, most people never bothered to dig for it. Now, it's right there in the "General" tab of your settings. You only have about 30 seconds to undo an email, but that's better than a panic attack. 
  • We used to buy albums, then iTunes came along and we started buying music by the song (like we used to with 45s). What if Amazon took that tune, and spun it for books, but in a weird way? What if Amazon only paid authors based on how many pages people read of a book? Think that sounds crazy? It's true. When you self-publish on Amazon, they will no longer be paying authors by the download for a whole book, but rather based on how many pages of the book are read. 
  • They say that there is no more money in music, and that the new rock stars are Zuckerberg, Sergey & Larry. Linkin Park may have built a new bridge. They just announced that they have their own venture capital firm. It's called Machine Shop, and they're invested in companies like Robinhood and Lyft. So, do you think that rock stars can also be Silicon Valley stars? 
  • App of the week: BuzzFeed News.

Listen here...

By Mitch Joel


June 28, 2015 3:52 PM

Marketing Cartoons With Tom Fishburne

Episode #468 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

We live in a world with so much content and creativity, that it's hard to remember what's most interesting. Still, every week, I can't wait for that one email with a new cartoon from Tom Fishburne. Every week, he publishes a new Marketoon (as he calls them). They're clever, funny and head-smacking true. With that, the former CPG and Method marketing professional, turned cartoon professional and has built not only a loyaly following, but a thriving agency creating business and marketing-related cartoons for brands. His agency is called, Marketoonist, and Tom is just one of those kind, honest and sincere people that you want to be around. 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 #468.

By Mitch Joel


June 27, 2015 7:55 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #262

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:

  • The Wetsuitman - Dagbladet. "Leave it to the Scandinavians to start a crime mystery right. But this story, which starts as crime fiction, quickly becomes a hard reality that nobody's willing to confront. I won't spoil the twist for you here, but this isn't what you think it is. It's also amazing journalism." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Where does language come from? - Salon. "As if on cue, this morning my five-year-old daughter Riley asked Siri, 'why did other animals survive the meteors that killed the dinosaurs?' It made me rethink how kids will interact with devices, as did the HUD on my rental upgrade today. But Riley's questions -- how did we make hammers before we had hammers; where did language come from -- were tough, exactly the kinds of things that require context, and that machines struggle with. Which is why I learned where language came from." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • What This Cruel War Was Over - The Atlantic. "The scars of racial history are still so present in the US. If all the events of this year weren't enough to remind you of that fact, than the Charleston shooting, and subsequent furor over the Confederate flag still flying atop the South Carolina Capitol made that abundantly clear. I'm not a student of American history, and though I have always known that the US Civil war was, in part about slavery, I didn't realize how completely central slavery and its abolition were to the war. Given that, and the fact that the Confederate flags started flying on State Capitols not way back in the 1800s, but rather in the 1960s in opposition to the civil rights movement... well, it's just astounding that those flags are still flying. (Two additional notes: smug Canadians should go read the recent, and sure-to-be-ignored, report from Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, about the cultural genocide inflicted on native populations here; and a confession: I had a Dukes of Hazard toy car as a kid, named the General Lee, with a Confederate flag on its roof. I can't believe it. I think it might be in a box at my mother's house, and it's possible that my daughters play with it now... I will have to do something about that)." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Our Universities: The Outrageous Reality - The New York Review of Books. "The cost of post-secondary education has been skyrocketing in the US, along with student debt. I have to think that in the long run, making education less accessible, and then saddling graduates with crushing debts... can't be a good thing." (Hugh for Mitch). 
  • Scientists Discover a New Part of the Human Body - Mental Floss. "I challenge you to read this article and not marvel at things like science, innovation, technology and the basic human desire to explore. We live in such a complex world, where we think that we know everything that there is to know. We know so little. There is still so much further for us to go as human beings. There is a system running through your body. It's important for life. We knew nothing about it... until now." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • A World Without Work - The Atlantic. "If you think Alistair's daughter, Riley, asks some great questions (see his Salon section above), I often wonder why we all work? And, perhaps more importantly, why do we pursue it for money and not general interest? I'm lucky, I love what I do and I'm both driven and passionate about it (more today than I have ever been). Most people are so head-down in their day-to-day life, that they don't really understand how work is one of the great distractions of life. It keeps our minds off of our most ultimate fear... dying. Beyond that, we live in a financially-driven economy that is based on the exchange of goods and service for money. What if people decided that they don't care about those things anymore? What if people changed their work? What if people checked out from work?" (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


June 26, 2015 8:20 PM

Small Spaces. Big Ideas

Always judge a book by its cover. 

Not a typo. I do judge a book by its cover. I love books. And, there's nothing I like more than a gorgeous book cover. Small spaces with great design turns my crank. What can I say? One of my favorite designers is Chip Kidd. He's done amazing work on graphic novels, but his main work is book cover design. It's a vast field that offers a mixed bag, but Chip is miles ahead of the lot. A true artist and visionary. I've been lucky enough to see him speak in person at TED and ever luckier enough to chat him up and hear his more personal thoughts about design and the future of publishing. 

Big ideas in small spaces. 

This week, TED posted a brand new talks of his titled, The art of first impressions -- in design and life. If you like design, this one is for you. If you're into marketing, this is a must-view. If you're a business professional and curious about where people get creative solutions from, this is a gem.

Watch this...

By Mitch Joel


June 25, 201511:35 PM

Your Brand Is A Learning Space

How much more content does the world really need? Laugh at that line as much as you want, but when I published my first business book, Six Pixels of Separation, back in 2009, I wrote about this newly-formed idea that... Read more

By Mitch Joel


June 24, 201511:43 PM

Algorhythm... My Next Book

Algorhythm - The Pulse of Creativity, Data And The Future of Brands. There is this ongoing debate: is the future of brands about data or is it about creativity? Building brilliant brands in a disruptive age is not as easy... Read more

By Mitch Joel


June 22, 2015 8:40 AM

Apple And The Future Of Streaming

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


June 21, 2015 6:56 AM

The Science Of Attention

Episode #467 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. Ben Parr leads an interesting life. He's an award-winning journalist, author, entrepreneur, investor and expert on what it takes... Read more

By Mitch Joel


June 20, 2015 7:28 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #261

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