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Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times tech writer, wrote today “Thanks to automation we now make 85% more goods than we did in 1987, but with only two-thirds the number of workers.”

Well, automation has had a profound effect on the advertising business too. Specifically Google and programmatic ad buying. The algorithm (Google) and ad buying servers that issue media bids in microsecond have removed thousands of people from the business of creating and placing ads.

These two automation facts are not alternative.

So what must we do to slow the robots?  It’s going to be hard to out-think them. But perhaps we can out-emotion them. Out-strategize them. There’s a saying I like to trot out every once and a while “Just when you think you know something about this business, someone comes along and proves you wrong.” Why is that?  Because intuitive rules don’t always work. Science says they should, but people don’t buy that way. People are people. We’re random.

So don’t worry about the robots, worry about your buyer. Engage them in new and exciting ways, and you will outlive the machine.

Peace.

 

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Yesterday I wrote about using memes to drive website traffic and brand interest. Today I’ll build on that with a little search tip.

When I first started What’s The Idea? and blogging about branding, I realized it would be smart to tag my blogs with key content points but also with “Whats the idea” and “whatstheidea,” the actual URL  In a meeting with Faris Yakob, a marketing pal, I mentioned my approach, explaining this activity allowed me to tell people to  Google “whatstheidea+ a brand or marketing topic” and it will likely lead them right to my website.  Faris said I was “indexing” content to my website using Google’s search engine.  Leave it to Faris to find the right words. Love Faris.

By always posting with my brand name — it helps that I have over 2.100 blog posts — it has created breadcrumbs to my site all across the web…wherever Google goes.

Every brand must use this slippery slope to their site. And every brand must post.

Peace.

 

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The new OS.

Riddle me this. When does an operating system really become an operating system?   When it truly delivers a digital assistant that manages all devices by voice activation. As Amazon’s Alexa intends to do.

Operating systems today are made up of software that undergirds other software and applications, e.g., iOS, Windows, and Android. In 20 years voice commands that direct “ons,” “offs” and other device and system activations will be the operating systems.  These assistants will compete with each other for supremacy.  There will be systems by Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and one or two start-ups. None will integrate (at first) but mark my words, these are the operating systems of the future. Because they operate real life things…including cars.

These operating systems will be the battleground of the next 50 years. Will they be free?  Will they be as expensive as cars? Will consumers be paid to use them? Time will tell.

Peace.

 

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mass production

I am a big fan of content creation, the new marketing meme sweeping the nation. Content creation has been around as long as the written word. As a tool to promote and sell it has been around since Bass Ale invented its mark and the Sears Catalog was the Amazon of its day.  But the words “content creation” in this age of Google and iPhone movies has taken on, at least for me, a strong commodity meaning.  A creative-by-the-pound activity measured in attention then, maybe, sales.

I am a brand planner who measures success not by hits or vague engagement activities but by sales. And future sales. Sure I’ll write a speech on “web accessibility” for an agency trying to score points at a client’s annual marketing meeting, but I don’t want giggles, attaboys and future invitations, I want new customer contracts. Content isn’t oration, it’s selling.

So the brand planner in me thinks that content creation or content marketing ungoverned by a brand strategy (one claim, three proof planks) is wasted effort. Every act or action that marketing achieves needs to motivate a sale in one way or the other. If you are doing content creation and it doesn’t move a customer closer to a sale, you likely don’t have an articulate brand strategy.

Peace.         

 

 

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I was reading today how media companies are obsessed with reaching Millennials through TV advertising. Anyone with a Millennial in the family knows they’re multitaskers.  Millennials are the reason Twitch Point Planning was developed.  (Twitches are media moments when one switches media or device in search of more information. Twitch Point Planning is a communication planning technique where you “understand, map and manipulate” consumers closer to a sale.)

This is Upfront Week — where media companies showcase new shows trying to sell ad time before the season begins. It got me thinking about Twitch Point Planning again. For proper utilization of Twitch Point Planning with TV you have to anticipate what audiences will do while watching a particular show. Let’s say you are watching a classic airing of the movie Bullet, what do you think happens on Google when the car chase scene takes place? Como se dice “Mustang?” Or what happens when Claire Underwood is using her rowing machine? “Gym membership? Yoga pants?”

Real-time Twitch intercepts during airings of TV shows are big sales opportunities.  Google understands this, but hasn’t done anything with it. (Yet.) Media companies and ad agencies need to get on board. But to do so they will actually have to watch the shows and plot the potential twitches. It’s a cross medium play, but it’s the way Millennials work.

It’s a big revenue opportunity for everyone.

Peace.

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I was reading today how media companies are obsessed with reaching Millennials through TV advertising. Anyone with a Millennial in the family knows they’re multitaskers.  Millennials are the reason Twitch Point Planning was developed.  (Twitches are media moments when one switches media or device in search of more information. Twitch Point Planning is a communication planning technique where you “understand, map and manipulate” consumers closer to a sale.)

This is Upfront Week — where media companies showcase new shows trying to sell ad time before the season begins. It got me thinking about Twitch Point Planning again. For proper utilization of Twitch Point Planning with TV you have to anticipate what audiences will do while watching a particular show. Let’s say you are watching a classic airing of the movie Bullet, what do you think happens on Google when the car chase scene takes place? Como se dice “Mustang?” Or what happens when Claire Underwood is using her rowing machine? “Gym membership? Yoga pants?”

Real-time Twitch intercepts during airings of TV shows are big sales opportunities.  Google understands this, but hasn’t done anything with it. (Yet.) Media companies and ad agencies need to get on board. But to do so they will actually have to watch the shows and plot the potential twitches. It’s a cross medium play, but it’s the way Millennials work.

It’s a big revenue opportunity for everyone.     

Peace.

 

 

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My friend Terrence and I once drove to John Hopkins University from NY to see a wonderful panel of physical anthropologists speak. Big, full auditorium.  I was never one of those “ooh, ooh, ooh kids” who asked a lot of questions in class, but during Q&A time, from way in the back of the expansive auditorium, I asked paleontologist Tim White of UC Berkley, how he thought man was currently evolving.  The question got a giggle or two from the room. (Doh!)  He went on to say brains cases would get bigger and women’s birth canals also…

I love to think about what’s next. It suits me well as a brand planner. The future takes up a good deal of my time at What’s The Idea?.

The future of marketing, product and delivery are not always top of mind for clients. It’s a shame. Had Intel thought this way it may not have had to lay off 12,000 worked yesterday.  Healthcare providers need to think about the future, but they don’t; it’s all about the next diagnosis.  Google needs to think forward and it does. But they need to think forward not about cars and energy, but also about their current search focused product line. And monopolies.

The brand strategies I develop always have the future in their peripheral vision. The strategy developed for Northwell Partners nee North Shore LIJ Health System, is as relevant today as it was 15 years ago.  

If your mantra is “Campaigns come and go…a powerful brand idea is indelible,” the work must be future proof.

Peace.

 

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If you wrote a prescient article in the 90s about the rise and fall of Yahoo! and predicted a future in which the company would go on to be a top 10 trafficked website, a billion dollar advertising juggernaut, hirer of one of Google’s most high-flying executives, and a brand with wonderful ballast – only to be bought by the Yellow Pages, I think you’d have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But that’s what looks to be happening.

A company that started out in search is going to end up in search in a weird turn of events. An organization that was an Original 6 (hockey reference…Go Rangers) tech company, will end up being a publishing company that is a shell of itself.

That said. I wish them well. I hope all alums remember what the early years were like. I sure do.

What goes around comes around. Sometimes.

Peace.    

 

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Yahoo 2016.

A couple of decades ago when the Internet was young I would go to Yahoo daily and check out the list of new websites publishing that day.  Every new website was listed on Yahoo (I can’t remember where) and as the number grew they were indexed by category. It was a raw way of seeing what was new on the web. Very wild west.

Then Yahoo became more of a portal, with a home page, news and other information utilities, e.g,. weather, stocks, etc.  Where Yahoo and Google diverged was in content.  Google kept to search and developed a wonderful advertising model while Yahoo meandered into news, entertainment, video and the like. Yahoo, in other words, tried to be an online newspaper, radio station, TV network and perhaps the world first amalgam of those things. Como se expensive? Advertising revenue grew and the company liked being in the content business but the business model was muddy. Not extensible. And expensive. What did Google do? Cleaner search and smarter ads.

Any hedge find worth its salt will tell you to focus. They look at trends and business fundies then pare, pare pare.  Starboard Value, pushing for dissolution of the Yahoo board, is no different. Starboard is the “stick” that will probably help Yahoo live on. I would counsel them, however, to bring in a brand strategist who can provide some depth to the decision they make. Yahoo is a powerful brand. It owns much space in the minds of consumers.  Don’t toss out that value, use it.

Peace.

 

 

 

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Experience is hot marketing word these days. It is rooted me thinks in user experience (UX), which started in the early days of the web when sites were hard to navigate and not intuitive. Ad and digital agencies caught on to experience a few years later as a way to create new buildables (content) and garner planning fees It didn’t hurt that “customer journey” and “communications planning” were smart ideas to begin with.

Product experience, some will have you believe, starts with communications and ends with the after-sale. The experience is everything in between. A lot of product experience buildables – designed to follow the AIDA principle: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action — are online and in-store. But product gesture is different.

Product gesture is not so much about the product journey and surround as it is the “consuming experience.” (See my last blog post.) A product gesture is the olfactory response that occurs when you drive by a Burger King. It’s why “flame broiled” is such a powerful brand asset of BK. For Coke, whose long standing brand idea is refreshment, the moment when your head snaps back after a full swig of a newly opened Coke is induced by the product gesture. Google’s product gesture occurs during search when your problem is solved, you smile and twitch to act.

Every product has a gesture. Man-made gestures like the Stella Artois pour and glass are distant seconds, but they are gestures nonetheless.

Find your product gesture and you will find marketing and branding success.

What is your product gesture?

 

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