Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 8, 2016 8:33 AM

$5 A Month To Watch Ads Before You Unlock Your Mobile Device. Interested?

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: 

  • Is YouTube ruining the video experience by having pre-rolls and banners on the videos? Maybe YouTube should roll out YouTube Red to all countries?
  • A new company, Unlockd, has a deal for you. The Australian company (backed by News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch's son) can serve ads via Android users' lock screens. Now, Boost Mobile (owned by Sprint in the US) is going to try it out. Here's the deal: Unlockd serves an ad to people once every three times they wake up their phones and enter their password. In exchange, Boost will take $5 off of your monthly bill. So, which brands are in? Levi's, Starbucks, Hulu, EA Sports and more. Personally, this sounds brutal... what do you think? Also, think about how well brands can work in digital? Have you seen the way that Acura integrates into Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee
  • SwiftKey is a very cool keyboard replacement for Android and iPhone. You can swipe through the keyboard and it's technology makes it super-quick to type (especially with one hand). Microsoft liked it so much, that they acquired the company (and the 150 employees) this past week for $250 million. Does SwiftKey have something more to it than what we're not seeing? 
  • App of the week: 30/30.

Listen here...

By Mitch Joel


February 7, 2016 7:44 AM

Future Content With Morgan Spurlock

Episode #500 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Episode 500... hard to imagine. It is a total pleasure to welcome Morgan Spurlock to the show. Most people know him for his amazing documentaries (Super Size Me, Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope and One Direction: This Is Us). He is also doing a lot of great work over at CNN with his show, Inside Man. Some might also remember his awesome reality TV show, 30 Days. With that, Spurlock also jumped full-on into content marketing and branded content. I've been lucky to know Morgan for a few years, and was very thankful that he agreed to be my guest on the 500th episode. He's someone who was very skeptical of brands and advertising, and he now sees the relationship between the work he is doing and how brands can be a part of it. 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 #500.

By Mitch Joel


February 6, 2016 7:15 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #294

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: 

  • When a Video-Game World Ends - The Atlantic. "When you die, you can be memorialized on Facebook. One day, there will be more dead people than living people on the Internet. But what happens when a platform ends, and everyone winks out of existence? If you played World of Warcraft, you probably spent a lot of time (not sure? Type /played -- I know people who've racked up an entire year in Azeroth). All that work vanishes. It's a lesson in mortality, and sometimes the worlds go out with a bang." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Why Can't We Build a Splash-Proof Toilet? - Priceonomics. "The Mars landers were supposed to last only 90 days; years later, they're still doing just fine. With all of that technology, you would think that we'd solve the problem with splashy toilets. But - as with most things - behavioural economics gets in the way. And yes, it talks about the physics of splashing." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Syria: Drone footage shows full scale of destruction in Homs. "I have never seen anything like this. I've seen footage of bombed-out cities before, horrific images of war zones, but my God, the city of Homs, in Syria is just... gone. I guess the only equivalent I've seen is pictures of Hiroshima after the US dropped its nuclear bomb on the city, but in that case everything was razed. Here we just see an empty shell of a city, which is haunting in different ways. If you wonder why there is a refugee crisis, here is an answer you won't forget." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald Reads John Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale" - Brain Pickings"From haunting/terrible, to haunting/sublime. F. Scott Fitzgerald reads 'Ode to a Nightingale.' I could listen to this all day." (Hugh for Mitch).
  • The Problem With Journalism Is You Need an Audience - Gawker. "Personally, I don't want newspapers to go away. Have you seen the movie, Spotlight. We need journalists. Real journalists. People who have lived and worked in the trenches... for decades. It gets me all kinds of mad, when I see people on Facebook complaining that some local restaurant is going under. These kinds of posts get a ton of likes and shares... lots of comments too. Here's the solution: don't want newspapers to go away? Don't want that local diner to close? Support it. Buy the newspaper. Eat at that restaurant. Frequently. People forget that this is a capitalistic society. If you don't buy it, it goes away. Journalism is alive and well. It's just waiting for you to show up." (Mitch for Alistair). 
  • The Future of the Humanities: Reading - Pacific Standard. "We know this. Most people forget it. Every so often, the idea that reading is disappearing re-appears on our radar. Now, in a world of YouTube, Facebook videos and Snapchat, there's this idea that people are reading less... or spending less time reading. With that, how many BuzzFeed and Fast Company articles do we need about how to be successful? Here's the secret to success: Read. Read a lot. Never stop reading. And, as you read, take notes... and do something about it. Your future? It's all about reading." (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


February 5, 2016 7:25 AM

Digital Transformation And The Big Bet

Is digital transformation the future of work... or just a bet that companies are making?

Say what you will about events like Davos (and, yes, there are many people and media who are quick to criticize the event), there are often moments that provide a batch of insights that make it worth our while to stop, watch, take notes and then reflect upon. So, here's the question: What big bets are companies making in the digital transformation of their business models and organizational structures?

It's a big question.

Everyone has digital transformation on the brain... and they should. I often argue that digital transformation is much more of an internal philosophy (that is leadership led) and internal execution, before it's something that touches a brand's consumers. It's difficult to say that your organization is "digital first" or leading the way in "digital transformation," if your leaders are not pushing the organization in this direction, or when the tools that the employees are using to build the business are legacy. I've been in the room of many corporations who are talking up business transformation, while behind the scenes they're using Lotus Notes, older BlackBerry devices, and frown up things like social media and mobile device usage at the office. It's a shame.

Back to Davos.

Last week, the World Economic Forum posted a session from Davos 2016 titled, The Digital Transformation of Industries. In this session moderator, Rich Lesser (Global Chief Executive Officer and President at Boston Consulting Group), Marc Benioff (CEO at Salesforce), Klaus Kleinfeld (CEO at Alcoa), Jean-Pascal Tricoire (CEO at Schneider), Bernard Tyson (CEO at Kaiser Permanente), and Meg Whitman (CEO at Hewlett Packard). On the agenda? What is digital transformation, how do companies make the right investment decision behind it and - most importantly - what does a digital culture look like and how does a brand go about designing one?

Watch this: World Economic Forum - Davos 2016 - The Digital Transformation of Industries.

By Mitch Joel


February 2, 2016 7:48 AM

Should We Rate Ads Or Just Watch Them?... Or Neither

We have been voting with our eyeballs.

It's plain and simple. Impressions, GRPs and mix in some repetition. It turns out that human beings are simple beings. Show them something, catch their attention, rinse and repeat and you will get them to take action. They will remember your message, think about your message (mostly subconsciously) and - if all goes as planned - when they're shopping, they will buy from you. This model was (and continues to be) the driving force behind this massive juggernaut that we call the advertising industry. Make no mistake about it, while social media did usher in an opportunity for brands to engage in conversations with their consumers and provide them with digital products and services to better (and more deeply) connect, it has not gone as hoped (or predicted by people like me). Take a look at Facebook's most recent reporting, and you will see one thing: big numbers and the kind of dollars that advertisers like to get behind, when they know that a mass audience is gathered, connected and paying attention in one, specific, channel.

The increasingly ad-free future that we're not seeing. 

With that, the tools, channels, platforms, products and services are available for brands to tinker with. And, they are. Look at what Oreo did over the holiday season with their Oreo Colorfilled product launch. With over forty million "likes" on Facebook (and a wider advertising net to cast), the company launched a online package customization platform, that enabled consumers to design their own Oreo package, and have it shipped to a friend or family member for the holiday season. Backed by Shopify's technology, this proved to be a fascinating test to see if consumers could be enticed online, take the time to customize and buy from Mondelez (Oreo's parent company) directly (circumventing their traditional distribution of product to retailers). By all accounts, the results have been powerful. Mondelez recently stated that they plan to increase their direct-to-consumer digital sales tenfold by 2020 (check out the DigiDay piece, How Mondelēz plans to increase its e-commerce sales tenfold by 2020). Netflix and other streaming services are offering content for a fee, and nixing the ideas of traditional advertising as we have known it to date. It does seem like the future of video is a subscription model that is fee-supported. Does TV advertising then die on the vine? 

Still, the Super Bowl is just around the corner, and everyone is buzzing about what the ads are going to be like. 

Nothing new here. Super Bowl ads now create more buzz, PR and online chatter than the actual live airing of the brand messages. These ads live on within YouTube and the views, comments and likes are measured, watched and dissected as much as the ratings of the actual football game. Many of us believe that mobile is going to dwarf everything we thought we knew about the Internet. Still, the advertising models on these smartphones are even more questionable. Takeovers, display ads and more simply don't function well on these platforms. Facebook has been dominating because their ad formats mimic their feed, and can be grazed with the flicking of the thumb without interrupting the general experience. Most would admit that this is still not the ideal way for a brand to get a message to a consumer. Don't believe me, take a look at how a "view" is counted on Facebook. 

Forget what's great about the Super Bowl ads and think about this...

Just because the advertising model has worked for the past century (plus), is no indication that this is where success will be found in the future. Especially, if this future is about mobile screens of all shapes and sizes, and connected devices that reside on our wrists, in front of our eyes or whatever else is coming next. What if the advertising industry became more transparent? What if we allowed consumers to rate the ads that are in front in them? It's not a new idea. Still, it is an idea that always get floated to the media at this time of year, because we're all going to be voting on just how good those Super Bowl ads performed. The marketing nerds (like me), will spend time watching, re-watching, analyzing, rating and debating who took the top spot, and what worked best. The average consumer? Do you really believe that they're going to be more engaged with ads? They will now watch them and rate them, and the output is that brands will create more relevant ads? It feels even more off base as things become increasingly more about mobile.

Don't get trapped in flawed thinking.

Passively watching ads while you're watching the big game, is not the same as the mobile experience. This is the challenge. We can't think of advertising as one dimensional. It's not working. It's not working for brand, agencies and - most importantly - the consumer. If you're interested in ads, it's important to know the power of a great story that captures someone's attention. If you're interested in the future of advertising, it's important to start thinking about what advertising and the future of media looks like, when it's becoming increasingly delivered on a smartphone. We are starting to vote with our fingers, and not our eyes. Plus, if most consumers could care less about watching ads, the added effort of rating them seems like a long stretch. We have to better define a model of advertising that looks, feels and acts in a much different way, if this industry is to thrive in the coming decade. How do we compliment an experience instead of interrupt it? 

Don't kid yourself, an ad on TV and an ad on your smartphone are not one and the same thing. 

By Mitch Joel


February 1, 2016 8:01 AM

Uber, The End Of Newspapers And What's A Society To Do?

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


January 31, 2016 8:36 AM

Introvereted Leaders And The Work Of Millennials

Episode #499 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. I have been blessed. Don't think that I don't recognize it. I do. I'm still insanely driven and hyper-entrepreneurial,... Read more

By Mitch Joel


January 30, 2016 7:44 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #293

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


January 27, 2016 7:28 AM

Digital Transformation And The Trillion Dollar Market Cap

You are magic. Literally. If you're reading this, you are magic. You spend your days (probably your nights and mornings too) thinking about the tremendous opportunity that the digitization of business has either offered you, or how you are going... Read more

By Mitch Joel


January 25, 2016 7:57 AM

Hacking Is A Terrible Problem. Passwords Are A Big Problem Too

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