Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 28, 2015 7:40 AM

Counting Screens. Counting Dollars. Connecting Consumers.

Are consumers watching more video content online or on the TV?

On April 16th, eMarketer published a news item titled, US Adults Spend 5.5 Hours with Video Content Each Day. Here's some pieces of staggering data: "Adults in the US will spend an average of 5 hours, 31 minutes watching video each day this year... and digital video viewing across devices is driving growth. In 2011, time spent with video on digital devices - PCs, mobile devices and other connected devices including over-the-top (OTT) and game consoles - totaled 21 minutes daily. This year, US adults will spend an average of 1 hour, 16 minutes each day with video on digital devices. Meanwhile, the average time US adults spent watching video programming on televisions totaled 4 hours, 35 minutes in 2011 and will decline to 4 hours, 15 minutes in 2015. In total, time spent with video on all devices is up from 4 hours, 56 minutes in 2011." There's some curious things happening as consumers watch more video across different screens on different platforms. The average adult is, obviously, shifting much more of their viewing habits to online video as each year progresses. With that, you could say that this is a movement away from television in favor of digital screens.

Do the advertising dollars follow the consumer?

If you did deeper into the eMarketer report, you will see that brands are still pumping plenty of money into TV advertising. How much? In 2015, forty percent of media spending will still be done on television. Yes, this year TV advertising will still be a $70+ billion market. As for digital video ads? That market will only get 4.4% (or $7.8 billion) of all media spend. Taking this up to a 40,000 foot view, television gets 36 percent of media consumption when compared to digital at 11 percent. That sense of uneasiness should be creeping into the pit of your stomach. The viewing habits change, but the dogma of traditional advertising institutions still holds on - for dear life - to what they presume is working, instead of allowing their media allotment to be more aligned with actual usage and viewership.

What do marketers get wrong about this data?

In my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete (and, by the way, the trade paperback version of it will be available on May 5th, 2015), I talk about the one screen world. How we no longer live in the three screen world (TV, computer and mobile devices). We live in a world where the only screen that matters to the consumer, is the screen that is in front of them. Screens are everywhere, they are all connected and they are ubiquitous. We're not seeing that slow down. In fact, we're only seeing it get more pervasive. There is proof in this, if you look at the Google Glass program (regardless of how that eventually played out) or if you look at what's happening with the Apple Watch. It's hard to argue that connected and cheap screens are becoming more and more available. From a marketing standpoint, this means that both content - and the advertising that financially supports it - must be developed in a much different way. It also means that how we spend those dollars has to be redefined.

The thing that is really challenging marketers todays.

At the same time that these pieces of data were being released from eMarketer, MarketingCharts released an interesting piece titled, Senior Digital Marketers' Top Priorities and Challenges. The top two priorities were:

  1. "Telling our story so we stand out against competitors." (46%).
  2. "Translating a deep knowledge of our customers into relevant interactions." (43%).

It's hard not see the obvious disconnect that is happening.

One could argue that telling a compelling and unique story is much more complex in a world where content has been atomized, and is consumed by flick scrolling through a newsfeed, that forces brands to compete with much more compelling/personal content than a traditional TV sitcom. It's hard to argue that pictures of our friends and seeing what they're up to is a way more engaging form of content that is both personalized and flowing into our lives with a speed that most of us could have never imagined. This also makes the issue of relevance (mentioned above) a much harder hill for brands to hump. It's hard to decipher all of this consumption, data and information and be relevant if brands are suddenly competing for attention with a consumer's family and friends over a sitcom on NBC.

But, let's dig a little deeper.

Brands are trying to tell their story in a way that makes them stand out against their competitors. Fine. This isn't a digital challenge. That's been the mantra of brands from day one. Why should a consumer buy my dishwasher detergent over my competitors? Telling a story that brings out a unique selling proposition is the oldest marketing challenge. Then, how do we take the data, information and knowledge that we have on our consumers and make our interactions with them more relevant? Again, not really a new (or digital) challenge. The difference - as time passes on - is that marketing went from a world where we couldn't capture and analyze the data well enough to make these insights, to our current situation where we have so much data that it is causing analysis paralysis. We don't even know where to begin or what to really do. If you layer these two challenges on top of the how dollars are being spent, the answer seems (a little bit more) obvious.

Want your brand to stand out against your competitors?

Why not put your ads where they are not advertising, especially if this space is one that is so highly under-indexing in terms of spend against usage? The data doesn't lie. The consumers/mass market is there in digital, but the spending is close to one-tenth of the size of television. Being where your competitors aren't is an amazing position to take.

Want your brand to create more relevant interactions?

While there is no golden answer to this one, there is still a culture of digital screen spending/advertising that mimics traditional television advertising. Very few brands are creating new digital ads to be reflective of the landscape. Don't believe me? How often do you see a television ad being run in a pre-roll on YouTube. With TrueView, YouTube allows you to skip an ad after a few seconds. If you're creating digital video ads, and not even ensuring that the story captivates in those first few seconds, the brand is already demonstrating a lack of relevancy. Furthermore, if you want your brand to be more relevant, look at how these digital videos are being consumed and how your brand can best become a part of that community, instead of selling to it. Marketing continues to evolve. Technology and data does not make the industry easier. It makes it more complex. With that, the opportunity to do great work has never been more pervasive. Consumers are active and on the hunt for content that resonates with them. This has not changed. If the brands are not mimicking the consumer's usage with stories that work within those environments, the blame can't sit on the channels not performing. The blame resides within.

It's not as easy as it looks.

By Mitch Joel


April 27, 201510:02 AM

Can A Hashtag Send You To Jail?

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:

  • It's completely depressing to watch the news coming out the Nepal earthquake. So much senseless death, and a reminder that no matter what plans we make in life, we are all just babies in the eyes of Mother Earth. The amount of tragedy this past weekend has been so very hard to stomach. With that, both Facebook and Google have rolled out services to help families check to see if their loved ones are okay, and to help them be located. Good on them for these efforts.
  • Jennifer Pawluck is a 22 year old who was just found guilty of harassment, after posting a photo on Instagram. She took a picture of someone else's graffiti work and posted it with some anti-police hashtags. The photo upset the officer, his wife and children. The arrest happened in 2013, and the verdict came down last Thursday. Once again, social media can be a risk when you don't understand the implications of being a publisher and the law that go along with it. 
  • YouTube celebrated it's 10th anniversary. It's hard to imagine that YouTube is already ten years old. It's even harder to imagine another business coming in a disrupting their model. Well, not so fast. That disruptor could be Facebook. Just as YouTube was lighting their candles to celebrate their birthday, Facebook jumped in and spat out the candles by announcing that they now serve up four billion video views to its user base every single day, up from three billion in January, and just one billion back in September. Of those four billion views, 75 percent come from mobile devices. Facebook is getting serious about video too. 
  • App of the week: TVFoodMaps.

Listen here...

By Mitch Joel


April 26, 2015 9:08 AM

Stand Out With Breakthrough Ideas

Episode #459 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

I can be old and cynical when it comes to building a personal brand. It used to be that digital media allowed all of us to present ourselves in a three-dimensional way. While that statement still stands true, we have a swath of people presenting themselves in really silly and unprofessionals ways online. Figuring out how to make a statement that is both authentic and professional can be a challenge in this Instagram world. Still, when it comes to people who really understand how to decode success, I trust Dorie Clark. Her first book, Reinventing You, was a fantastic read and she's back with Stand Out. In her latest book, Dorie tackles the super-huge challenge of how people (like you and I) can come up with breakthrough ideas that make us invaluable to the businesses that we work for. She also believes that this is the one (and potentially only) thing that will give us all the ultimate career insurance. With that, she is also a speaker and writer for Harvard Business Review and Forbes. 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 #459.

By Mitch Joel


April 25, 2015 8:21 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #253

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:

  • Getting out of my Skinner Box - LIMN This. "My friend Jim Stogdill writes good screed. Here's his lament about a life lived interrupted, and how he found his way out of it." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • The Bot Bubble - New Republic. "I have bot followers. They seem to follow me to make themselves look legitimate. When I see them I report them; but I can't handle the flood. This surprisingly candid exposé goes inside a bot farm. You won't believe what happens next. ;-)" (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Mouse Utopia Experiment. "I'm shocked that I hadn't heard about this before. I guess that it was the kind of sensational research that spawned all sorts of dystopian sci-fi, and some real policy thinking as well, back in the 50s, 60s and 70s when the experiments were going on. Dr. John Calhoun wanted to study growth in mouse colonies, where the normal stresses are removed: unlimited access to food and water, no predators. But, limited space. The colony grows exponentially, then plateaus, and then all sorts of bad things happen (random violence, infertility, cannibalism, self-inflicted solitary withdrawal, etc...). The population then plummets, and never recovers. The implications - to the degree they are transferrable - to human organization are wide ranging: from thinking about designing better spaces for large populations, to the problems of generous welfare systems. But, if you are sitting down to write some dystopian sci-fi, I suggest you watch this first." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Swiss Postal Service Will Start Using Delivery Drones in Pilot Program This Summer - Slate. "When word came through the transom of Amazon's plans for drone delivery services, I first thought it was a kind of marketing ploy. But, the reality of drones doing real work (other than killing people) is coming soon. The tech will get better and cheaper. The applications will be far ranging. I guess if you are in the bike courier business, anyway, your job is going to be changing soon." (Hugh for Mitch).  
  • Why can't we read anymore? - Hugh McGuire. "Our buddy, Hugh, used to write a whole lot more. I miss his style and rantings. Don't get me wrong, I'm blessed that he makes the time to contribute his links and thoughts here weekly, but I do miss his writing. I'm thrilled that he decided to take another run at a topic that we all know is near and dear to his heart. In this fascinating piece, Hugh looks at reading and what happens when we move from books to screens... and if it's such a big deal." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • 50 Years of 'Avengers' Comic Book Covers Through Color - Wall Street Journal. "It doesn't matter whether you appreciate comic books or not. This is a prime example of how digital publishing can (and should!) do things that print cannot do (well). My main gripe with the vast majority of traditional media websites, is that it doesn't do much beyond ' copy and paste' their written content to the Web, or they subject us to these awkward videos being created by people who are much more adept with a keyboard than a camera. Good on the Wall Street Journal for doing something original, digital and compelling with a topic that is already over-played in the media." (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


April 24, 2015 7:14 PM

All Businesses Can Act Like They're From Silicon Valley

Corporate culture is a huge part of what makes a business successful.

There's a statement that no single business professional would ever challenge. The problem, of course, is that cultures are often hard to control, understand and nurture. Sometimes they happen in an organic way, and sometimes they come from a strong management team. There are instances when an individual's brand is the corporate culture (Steve Job, Elon Musk, etc...), and there are instances when the culture is affected by outside forces. All of us struggle with corporate culture. How to define it. How to work it. How to make a corporate culture work towards better business results. When we look at some of the more interesting brands, we often marvel at the perks and benefits that come along with it (and how it attracts and retains the talent). A lot of the attention over the past few decades has been given to Silicon Valley, when it comes to newish kinds of corporate culture. As "present" at Twitter is, it is still a relatively new organization that is growing at a massive click, as it struggles to maintain their corporate culture, while evolving with the realities that come with being a publicly traded company.

Can your business think like Twitter?

Earlier this week, Fortune Magazine held its 2015 Great Places To Work Conference. With that, the event featured a very interesting (and in-depth) conversation with Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, about how the company has changed, how they maintain culture and how transparent they really are (both to the public and to their employees). Fortune Senior Editor, Christopher Tkaczy, does a great job of probing and dissecting Twitter. Within this interview also lies many interesting tips, tricks and strategies that any business can apply, as they adapt to the digital transformations that we all face on a daily basis.

Twitter sounds like a great (and transparent) place to work...

By Mitch Joel


April 23, 201511:33 PM

Big Can Often Be Much Better

How many times a day do you read about a brand messing up? It's a sport at this point. Some people make a living by showing brands just how much other businesses are screwing up, as some kind of warning/lesson.... Read more

By Mitch Joel


April 22, 2015 9:30 PM

Digital Advertising Is The New Mass Media

That was a tough title to write. I was there in the beginning of online advertising. The very early days. The days when banner ads had to be hard-coded on to a website. The days when targeted banners were often... Read more

By Mitch Joel


April 21, 201511:34 PM

Your Streaming Live Brand

It's a race to see which brands will be first on Periscope (or Meerkat). This is nothing new. It happens all of the time. Some brands really do embrace an early-adopter ethos and score big earned media points by doing... Read more

By Mitch Joel


April 20, 2015 9:49 AM

Welcome To Mobilegeddon

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 19, 2015 9:06 AM

Real Marketing Technology

Episode #458 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. The title "Marketing Technologist" gets tossed around a lot these days. Most brands believe that this is an individual... Read more

By Mitch Joel