Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 3, 201511:02 PM

How The TV Industry Just Hurt Television Advertising

What is the value of your personal data to an advertiser?

Consumers are rightfully concerned about what is being done with their data, where it's going and how it's being used. It's a big business. It's a huge business. It's often the trotted out horse when people want to know, exactly, how places like Facebook and Twitter are going to make the billions of dollars that they are required to generate, based on their market capitalization. In simplistic terms, we're often told that the goldmine is in the data. The knowledge of what people are doing, and how to better target them with relevant and timely messaging, is what's going to win the day. The evolution of big data in business jargon is pushing this further. The notion that we can couple disparate databases and leverage the information with speeds never-before-available to businesses to create more interesting outcomes. It all sounds so hopeful, so dreamy and... so powerful. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road for marketers. The creation and distribution of media is cheaper, more targeted and super-relevant. 

Media will know things that we've previously never known. Cool.

Everyone loves Hulu (if it's available in your location). This joint venture of NBC, Fox and Disney was created as a place where consumers can, primarily, watch ad-supported video (with a focus on TV shows) for free (and yes, there are subscription services available that offer a richer catalogue of content and more depth of functionality). Of course, this was the major network's reaction/creation/competition to platforms like Netflix and Amazon. Disrupt the disrupter, as it were. Breaking it down: the television networks developed a digital channel to distribute their content (and an added traditional advertising stream).

If you were Hulu, how would you amp up your sales?  

That's easy: Increase both the amount of content you are showing (thus, more ads will run) and/or increase the quality of the content (so that you could charge more for the advertising based on the quality of the viewership). That's one way to go. Well, Hulu announced yesterday that it will offer the option of having no advertising during shows for $11.99 a month. Yes, this makes Hulu much more of a direct competitor to Netflix, Amazon, and the like, but it also sends a very interesting message (especially because their current premium subscription service is $7.99, but still has commercials) to the media industry. The average consumer is worth about four bucks a month. That's it. What makes this more interesting? How about these quotes from Hulu CEO, Mike Hopkins:

  • "There's a whole set of customers that we saw in the research and in the metrics that aren't interested if we have advertising."
  • "The whole intent is to really target a new consumer who has tried us before and churned out because of the advertising." 

What about the advertising?

People are willing to pay more for content that doesn't have advertising. Who would argue with that? It's confounding. Hulu has a ton of data about their users. Who they are, what they are watching, how long they're watching it for, and much, much more. If data is going to drive advertising's future, doesn't Hulu have this future model? They know more about their viewers and viewing habits than most. Why isn't the advertising and value of it being demonstrated? Shouldn't Hulu be getting much more than $4 per viewer in terms of media spend? Shouldn't all of the ads being shown be targeted, relevant and desired by their viewers? People hate advertising. This is not true. People hate bad advertising. If ever there was an opportunity to prove how efficient and effective a television commercial can be, Hulu would be the place. Isn't the future here? 

What kind of signal do you think Hulu is really sending to the advertising world? 

By Mitch Joel


September 2, 201511:47 PM

Are You Good At Business? Let Facebook Decide

What makes a great business?

Put aside things like how ethical the business is, well-priced, marketed, value of the brand, etc... There is a sentiment (check out the Net Promoter Score) that a businesses success is based, primarily, on two things: its customer base and how well it takes care of its customers. Fair play. Seems like a perfect metric. Having customers means that you're getting the basics right. Keeping happy customers means that you're innovating and growing your market. So, what does a great business look like in 2015?

Just ask the Better Business Bureau?

There used to be formal institutions that actually rated and compared how well a business can handle issues, and then continue to grow (in fact, these organizations still exist). How good is a company's products and services? There are organizations (both created commercially or for the public good) that act as a buffer between the corporation and the consumer. We had these unbiased places to go to better understand just how good a business is doing, or to act in defense of a troubled consumer.

Can Facebook completely take the power away from these organizations? 

Last week, The Globe And Mail published an article titled, Facebook rating pushes firms to up social-media responsiveness (I was interviewed and quoted in the article). Being verified on Twitter and Facebook (those coloured little check marks that appear next to an individual's name, to ensure that they are the "real" them) is kind of a big deal for many. They see this verification as a status symbol (and, who doesn't want to be "kind of a big deal"?). Now, Facebook is giving a different kind of verification to brand pages that provide a high-level of responsiveness. Can you feel the mad dash of brand's to get their own little green badge just below their profile picture, giving them a "very responsive" verification?

So, just how responsive is your brand? 

Before you go off hunting for the badge, here is how Facebook defines "very responsive": "brand pages must respond to customer questions in less than five minutes, 90 per cent of the time, over a seven-day period. Pages are re-evaluated every week." You may want to go back and re-read that last sentence. Why has Facebook set the bar so high? Which brands truly have the infrastructure to deliver against this kind of criteria? Why should brands care? 

You brand really needs to pay attention to this metric.

You may believe that Facebook is setting the bar very high. Facebook might think otherwise. It doesn't matter. What are you customer's expectations? What do they want and require in a world where they can (and are) shopping the brand 24/7? What about the brands that, strategically, don't feel the need to use Facebook as a customer service channel? The truth: none of these questions may hold any water in the boardroom any more. Last week, Facebook also announced that they had over one billion people connected on their platform in a single day. A staggering piece of data. Facebook may be using this new responsiveness rating as another way to show businesses why they need to spending more time (and money) within the Facebook world. Again, you can question Facebook's business strategy all that you want, but the facts seem to be this: your consumers are on Facebook, they are asking brands millions of questions, and Facebook has the data to demonstrate just how happy consumers are with these questions and interactions.

"Facebook doesn't work for us?"

It's a sentiment that I often hear in boardrooms and hallways at events from brand leaders. Perhaps that's the wrong question. Hoping that Facebook can do a brand's bidding is the wrong approach. Perhaps a more realistic question is this: if all of my customers are on Facebook, and Facebook is now benchmarking how responsive a brand is, what will I do to keep my customers happy and keep my competitors at bay. A Facebook strategy can't simply be about promotions, transactions, impressions and engagement. Why? Because Facebook is becoming the new customer service channel, and it doesn't much care about how much you have invested in your own customer support channels.

The new Facebook reality. Can you deal with it?

By Mitch Joel


August 31, 2015 9:38 AM

Over A Billion Served (In A Day), And Facebook Is Just Getting Started

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:

  • Last Monday was a big day for Facebook... and a bigger day for how much digital technology has connected us all. Say what you will about Facebook: teenagers don't use it, millennials are tired of it, etc... none of that really resonates in a world where the online social network had one billion people using Facebook on that single day. What does that really mean: one out of every seven people on the planet were logged on. So, what do you think, will there be something after Facebook? I'm thinking this could be the channel that does, in fact, connect us all.
  • How are businesses coping with all of this Facebook stuff? Last year, brands received almost 22 million questions on Facebook and Twitter from customers. The good news is that most brands are now listening and responding. Brands that respond well on Facebook are now getting a green badge on their pages, next to their profile picture (like being "verified" by Twitter). The thing is, Facebook wants brands to really step it up. In order to get the badge, brand pages must respond to customer questions in less than five minutes, 90 percent of the time, over a seven-day period. Pages are re-evaluated every week. The Globe & Mail ran an article about this (and I was quoted in it). So, is Facebook both the Better Business Bureau and the center of customer service? 
  • Apple has sent out invites for an event on September 9th. What are we expecting? Based on how they currently cycle out new devices, this probably won't be the iPhone 7, but more likely the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. So, is it worth it? A better camera? Faster speed? Front-facing flash (selfie much?), animated wallpapers? Force Touch technology? Oh, maybe even a new Apple TV or some new laptops... a new iPad? 
  • App of the week: Instagram... why? Because now, you post in landscape and portrait formats! Yay! Big update!

Listen here...

By Mitch Joel


August 30, 201510:02 AM

The Business Of Podcasting

Episode #477 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

It's hard to deny that podcasting is really coming into its own as a media format. Everyone is jumping in. From amateurs to the biggest media companies in the world. I've been creating this podcast - on a weekly basis - since 2006. Almost a decade of shows. But, the first podcast that I ever appeared on, was the one from Donna Papacosta. At the time, I thought the format was a joke, but after spending time with Donna, I quickly felt that this might be the perfect channel for businesses to experiment with audio. Not to be another kind of radio, but to invent a new type of audio programming. Ten years later, and it is still evolving. I'm loving the podcasting value in relation to business. Donna runs a successful communications consultancy called, Trafalgar Communications. More recently, she co-authored the book, The Business Of Podcasting - How to Take Your Podcasting Passion from the Personal to the Professional, with Steve Lubetkin. This book is filled with some great insights on how to create a compelling show - from the tech behind it, to the story that's going to make it popular. 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 #477.

By Mitch Joel


August 29, 2015 8:00 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #271

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 Privilege of the Future - Dangerous To Those Who Profit From The Way Things Are. "This may be the greatest thing I have seen on how different the world is depending on where you're from. Madeline Ashby explains why privilege informs those who think about the future. 'It's easy to imagine an optimistic future when you've been successful. It's easy to be hopeful when your hopes have been fulfilled, when your faith has been rewarded. And crucially, the people shaping our futures -- the ones developing our apps, writing our laws, deciding our policies -- are the ones who reject pessimism simply because they've never needed it. They have never understood the danger of hope. They cannot know the vulnerability it requires. They have not been vulnerable, in that way.' Sobering thoughts during a pair of North American electoral cycles." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Big Data, Big Computers, Big Trouble - Gary Smith. "I met Gary Smith all too briefly a couple of weeks ago. He's got a fascinating mind when it comes to data and economics. He warns that when you comb through data with a pattern in mind, you're bound to find one -- whether it's meaningful or not. 'Thirty years ago, calling someone a 'data miner' was an insult comparable to being accused of plagiarism. Today, people advertise themselves as data miners. This a flaw, not a feature. Big data and big computers make it easy to calculate before thinking, it is better to think hard before calculating.' Stats, but worth it." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • The Late, Great Stephen Colbert - GQ. "Stephen Colbert soon will be taking over the The Late Show hosting duties from David Letterman. We mostly know Colbert as a satirical rightwing cable blowhard character... but, he's going to be 'himself' with his new gig. What's that going to look like?" (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Picasso on Intuition, How Creativity Works, and Where Ideas Come From - Brain Pickings. "Basically: do the work. Keep working. Keep at it. Keep going. That's where ideas come from." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Study of Holocaust survivors finds trauma passed on to children's genes - The Guardian. "We're learning more and more about how we operate as sentient beings. There's that saying, 'the mind navigates the body.' If you're mentally not feeling great, it is often manifested in physical ailments. The link between our mental health and our physical health gets closer with every new discovery. Like this one. So, maybe the next time you feel inclined to tell someone, 'it's all in your head,' what you should really be saying is, 'it's all in your DNA'?..." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • When Everyone Is Doing Design Thinking, Is It Still a Competitive Advantage? - Harvard Business Review. "It used to be that businesses did not understand (or even care about) the value of design. Now, design is taking the center stage. It's hard to be a successful brand without strong design, in this day and age. Even cheap, copycat brands are thinking about good, strong and functional design. Not just the physical look of things, but how the brand comes together. Yes, design is at the center of everything... including business these days. And, it is glorious." (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


August 27, 201511:29 PM

Have We Reached Peak Productivity?...It May Be Killing Us.

How much better can we get at work? TED Talks can be provocative. That's what the best ones are. That's what the best ones are supposed to do. Some might argue that it's more like popcorn than a proper meal.... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 24, 2015 9:42 AM

Was Privacy An Anomaly All Along?

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


August 23, 2015 9:09 AM

Louder Than Words... Finding Your Brand Voice

Episode #476 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. I won't miss a beat when asked what the best book title is when it comes to creativity. Todd... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 22, 2015 8:04 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #270

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


August 17, 2015 9:45 AM

Is Technology Killing Work Life Balance?

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