From the Internet of Things to Video Moxy

I have the great privilege of hosting the xPotomac Conference every year with Patrick Ashamalla and Shonali Burke. We just published video recordings of our 2014 sessions, including our keynotes, on YouTube. You can see the whole channel here.

Here are each of the sessions:

KEYNOTE: Robert Scoble on The Age of Context

Find out more about Robert Scoble at

Lauren Vargas, Digital Media in a Regulated Environment

Find out more about Lauren at

Toby Bloomberg, Broadcast and Print Media Adoption of Digital

Learn more about Toby here:

Peter Corbett, The Internet of Things

Find out more about Peter at

Danielle Brigida and Allyson Kapin, Disrupting Social Change

Find out more about Danielle at and Allyson at

KEYNOTE: Jim Long, The Wild World of Video

Learn more about Jim at

#xPotomac14: Israel and Corbett Take on the Internet of Things

iStrategyLabs and DC Tech Titan Peter Corbett is presenting at xPotomac this February 28th with a discussion on The Internet of Things.  Shel Israel‘s co author Robert Scoble is keynoting about their book Age of Context (Shel was coming but had a family emergency). Peter and Shel took some time to answer some of my questions about how Internet enabled devices are changing marketing and media

Don’t miss the opportunity to interact with Peter and Robert, and some of the technology industry’s best minds live, including Age of Context Authors Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. Register today, and use the code Geoff for 20% off!

GL: You are doing some great work with the Internet of Things, or sensors. Why is it so important for marketers to consider the use of this kind of data in their work with customers?

PC: A funny thing is happening. People are more interested in connecting with the real world than they are with the digital one – and the physical world is no being infused with technology in ways we’ve never seen. With that in mind, marketers – who’s job it is to connect meaningfully with customers – are being drawn into Internet of Things related campaigns because is simply what people want to interact with.

If you’re a marketer and you’re not at least familiar with the space, you’re at a dramatic disadvantage. If you’re an agency who can build internet connected devices you’re probably so business your just can’t keep up.

SI: Sensors are becoming ubiquitous, and with the release of Beacon Low Energy Blue-tooth, they will soon be installed every few yards of many stores. They will talk to shopper’s iPhones as they walk by. This will allow retailers to know who is in the store, that person’s buying history, the route they are taking through the store and for loyal, repeat customers, probably sensors will allow the store to under stand the shopper’s intent.

This changes a great deal for marketers. Marketers will be able to make offers that are highly personalized to each shopper, and not bother other people in the location who have different intents. The data will also allow retailers to position items on display with much great effectiveness. What, I am thrilled to say, will disappear is the need for marketers to try to push crap to every person that comes within range.

Robert Scoble and I have a name for this new, extremely precise approach. We call it Pinpoint Marketing.

GL: How far do you think we can take the Internet of Things?

SI: How far it is taken Geoff is beyond the control of you and me at this point. Sensors are growing exponentially, they are getting smaller and less expensive. Retail applications that I just mention are just one world-changing applications.

Sensors on Pills, will allow doctors to see what’s going inside our bodies with out intrusive procedures that we now must abide. I for one will not miss the joy of a colonoscopy. Sensors will be attached to traffic lights and talk to sports stadiums, so that the lights will be recalibrated when a big event gets out.

In Orlando, there are sensors in smart parking lots. They can tell motorists where spaces are open, so that they won’t be driving around and polluting. You ay for the space on a mobile app where your credit card is on file. If you don’t pay, you’ll get an automatic fine. I could write a book about the different ways sensors will change work and life. In fact, just did.

PC: I don’t really see a limit. Our world will be very different 10 years from now. In 50 it may be unrecognizable. It’s not clear if this is a good thing or a bad thing yet – humans will have relationships with objects unlike we ever have before. Would you rather have a girlfriend or your iPhone? Some people would already choose the iPhone.

GL: What’s the utimate application you have seen so far?


SI: Every time there is an ultimate application, there is one that is even more ultimate that pops up before I get a chance to write about it. We are in a period of rapid innovation and disruption. There is abundant competition that is fomenting fast and faster change. Today some people may be made uncomfortable by digital eyewear such as Google Glass.

In a few years, that digital eyewear may be a piece of nanotechnology inserted into the optical nerve where it will communicate directly with the brain. Robert Scoble and I have seen augmented reality binoculars, that allow you to see precisely what’s around you–except that a sign, a map, pr a person is inserted into the scenario that is not really there.

In the play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe,” Martha tells her husband, “Truth and Illusion, George, you don’t know the difference.”

Soon that may be the case for the rest of us as well. Holographic technologies, eye control technologies and nanotechnologies are going to eliminate screens for viewing entertainment, the web or anything else. Simulaneously windshields,and closet mirrors are become screens for data and entertainment.

PC: You mean besides our GE Social Fridge? I have to say Points is a big deal. Or August. Both of those products should be big successes from what I can tell. Homegrown hero SmartThings in DC is way out ahead with regard to platform development for home automation. I think they’re going to kill.

GL: Is social media an established and at the same time tired practice now?

PC: Absolutely. Social media is a boring commodity. It’s easy. Hardware engineering isn’t. Physical + digital interaction that excites and delights people is much more difficult to design for than a simple click on a social app. The bar has be raise really high with this one, and the social shops are going to get eaten alive people people that can span digital and physical.

SI:Social media is now a mature platform. No surviving company has a go-forward strategy that does not include social media. In less than a decade, it has moved from a disruptive intrusion to a core component of life and work. There is nothing tired about the technology. What got tiring is talking about social media. Now we just use it.

Businesses have come to understand that it is not just about push, but is an amazing place for gathering real time sentiment and data. The traditional media that has survive the tumolt of the last year, now see the people of the world as sources of credible news and the platforms as faster, better, cheaper ways to distribute it. I only wish the slow-moving institutions, particularly government and education would embrace the social media more strategically.

GL: If you could coach today’s students on one area to focus on, what would it be?

PC: I’d encourage them to focus on product design – digital and physical product design. There’s so much work to be done, and not enough talent. I was a programmer/designer who went to business school and studied marketing and management. I wish I had studied mechanical engineering or industrial design. Those are such important worlds to grok.

SI: I would counsel them not to focus on any one area unless they have to. I’d also advise them to learn to program, and that they will most likely learn far more on devices than they will in classrooms–despite what their teachers may tell them.

GL: What’s next for iStrategyLabs?

PC: We’re building a new product – it’s a real-time analytics platform for employees. We want to see if we can help teams be happier and more productive. That’s a very much digital product (and iOS app). At that same time we’re working on more physical internet connected device prototypes for internal purposes and for our clients. We hope the we discover a blockbuster internet connected device we can build 1000s of over the next couple years.

GL: What’s next for Shel Israel?

SI: I’m researching a book with Shel Holtz on how technology is giving more people and business in more places a better shot at economic viability. You’ve heard about lots of slivers of this new, open economy: shared, sharing collaborative, consumptive, mesh, ad nauseum.

Shel and I want to show how it is all part of a new global economy, one that is enabled by the technologies that are forming the Age of Context, an economy where the government plays a reduced role even on recognizing and defining currency, and designers with new ideas can print products on home devices.

Don’t forget.  Register today for this Friday’s xPotomac conference, and use the code Geoff for 20% off!

The Marketing of Winter

Back when I was a kid (are you groaning yet?), we didn’t have polar vortexes or named storms. No, it just got cold with arctic blasts and the occasional blizzard.

The Weather Channel had a nice justification for naming its winter storms, specifically safety through awareness. But let’s be honest about this, the channel is making its content more attractive to the marketplace through personification and mystery.

It’s the marketing of winter.

Can you blame The Weather Channel? In an era of niche media, there are few things that commands attention across wide swathes of the population. Major weather events happen to be one of those things, the Super Bowl being another.

Believe me when I say this: The Weather Channel has to do everything it can to drive ratings. A victim of its own successful Internet applications, the Weather Channel lost 20% of its viewing audience when DirecTV dropped it earlier this month. This follows a 19 percent drop in its ratings since 2011 as a result of its hyper successful Internet apps.

It makes sense. Some people may prefer spending 30 seconds on the Weather Channel app as opposed to watching ten minutes of programming to get the same information.

Competitive weather networks won’t help. In addition to WeatherNation, Accuweather is launching a 24-7 network this fall as is Network Weather. It seems like there will be more fish fighting for this smaller pond.

But if The Weather Channel sees people checking the weather via their apps instead of tuning in via cable, wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in interactive content instead of fighting for less cable viewers?


That’s why the marketing of winter makes sense to me. There is one thing we can be certain of; sooner or later the weather will turn foul. The added panache provides a compelling story that translates across medium.

Vortexes and named storms offer The Weather Channel a differentiator, and allows them to sell advertisements and sponsoships of major weather events on their networks. The mobile ad check-ins alone are probably worth it. “Sponsor coverage of five named storms this winter. You can make sure your mobile ads for snow shovels show when someone is within five miles of a store.”

What do you think of the The Weather Channel’s marketing of winter?

So You Are a Marketer

Imagine this conversation.

“So, you are a marketer,” said the prospect. “In your mind, what makes your company stand out?”

“That’s right,” says Marketer X. “I have one of the most followed blogs in the business, I’ve written x book on marketing, and I have an extremely well followed Twitter account. That’s why brands like xx, xx, and xx trust my company with their digital marketing.”

“But your website doesn’t offer a responsive design,” said the prospect. She swipes her iPhone and shows Marketer X a painfully small rendition of Marketer X’s company blog/website. “Why not?”

Unfortunately for most marketers (and PR pros), they won’t have a chance to defend themselves because the prospect won’t give them a meeting.

This is the curse of digital. When you become wed to the medium, you must evolve with it. And though many have built businesses around digital, they are struggling to adapt to the mobile revolution.

You, see I wrote a blog post for Gravy analyzing top marketing and PR bloggers for their responsive design and social network presence. What I thought would be a quick research exercise turned into a three-hour odyssey. Many, many of the top voices in the business don’t offer a responsive, adaptive or a mobile specific website design.

This is in spite of smartphones outselling computers. Heck, mobile is driving 31% of all web traffic today, and that number will only grow.

The marketing digirati disconnect occurs in spite of blogs regularly citing how important mobile is becoming. Or that marketing consultants use mobile media throughout the day to maintain social networks. Or that they regularly sell digital media strategies.

It was shocking moving from site to site. Whether the website failed to offer any mobile design at all or a cheap WP Touch plugin bandaid — which was great in 2011, but not OK for 2014 — I left surprised.

Perhaps many of the voices offering marketing savoir faire are really just strong in social media with a grounding in a more traditional discipline. But like big data and the analytical skills it requires, mobile presents a new domain that’s often simply batched in as part of the overarching marketing mix. That’s a mistake.

The Necessity of Offers a Mobile Friendly Site

Mobile is not a new wrinkle. People interact with media differently using smartphones, which in turn requires new communication approaches.

The contextual marketing revolution that everyone is talking about pivots off of mobile location. It requires relevancy and a strict approach towards permission-based marketing. Further, to succeed you need to understand geofencing and how distance triggers different behaviors.

Many methods that work on a computer or even a tablet, don’t translate on a mobile phone. Here are a few examples: Long text pieces, a lack of rich media, comment centric media, and generally small calls to action (e.g. links and small buttons) that aren’t easily pressed on with a finger.

Instagram, Snapchat and Vine are rocking it in large part because of their simple nature and rich media formats. These types of short rich media posts work well on mobile platforms. Further, Twitter’s renaissance has as much to do with the rise of smartphones as it does with Jack Dorsey’s return to the helm.

Moving forward, 2014 is the year of separation. Clients will start qualifying vendors by their ability to deliver a mobile experience. And while most social media marketers don’t feature a responsive design for their consultancy, enough do. Part of qualifying marketers will include an analysis of their own mobile offerings, including responsive or adaptive website design.

In the post social media revolution era, talking responsiveness is cheap. Sites speak louder.

What do you think? Is a responsive, adaptive or mobile-specific site a must?

Image by Seron.

My Big 5 Marketing Predictions for 2014

I am presenting a free Vocus webinar this Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the five big trends that will impact marketers in 2014. Vocus is a client of Tenacity5 Media.

Everyone wants to know the most important trends of the new year for their marketing program. After reading thousands of posts and reports and sifting through corresponding data about marketing, these are my five bold predictions for 2014, and what you should do about it.

Trend 1: Mobile Begins to Dominate

Google Glass will grab the headlines, but old-fashioned mobile marketing will command the budget. Thanks to responsive and adaptive designs, geofencing, and diverse mobile media properties, businesses can deploy customized campaigns to attract customers on the go. As ROI increases, expect mobile specific efforts to become the next marketing boom.

Key Statistic: In 2014, 3.7% of the total U.S. ad spend will be mobile ($6.2 billion). We saw 81% growth this year in the U.S. market, with that rate slowing down to 61% in 2014 and 53% in 2015, when mobile will make up 8.4% of the total ad spend. Source: ZenithOptimedia.

Trend 2: Wearable Moves to the Wrist

Wearable computing hype will move away from the head to the wrist. Google Glass is too awkward and clunky to be anything more than a niche product. Meanwhile, Nike+ FuelBand and Fitbit continue to show how wearable computing can quietly be accepted in day to day lie. Expect Apple and Samsung to take advantage of the form factor, and define the market.

Key Statistic: Google Glass will move 21 million units in annual sales by year-end 2018. Source: BI Intelligence

Trend 3: Vine Becomes a Major

In 2012 we saw the rise of Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+. 2013 was promising but less successful with Vine and SnapChat.

But toward the end of the year interesting acquisition chatter between Facebook and SnapChat commanded the headlines. Then Facebook delivered a vain attempt to replicate video messaging functionality on Instagram (the McDonalds business strategy strikes again).

There are serious monetization issues with SnapChat. Facebook is turning the Instagram platform into something for everyone, and at the same time nothing distinct.

Vine is already tied into Twitter’s ad platform, and will benefit from its unique video only format. Expect Vine to breakthrough in 2014 because of its simplistic utility, short video, and Twitter’s increasingly successful ad platforms.

Key Statistic: At the end of September, Twitter-owned Vine grew a whopping 403% between the first and third quarters of 2013 according to Mashable, Statista and GlobalWebIndex. That makes the video app the fastest-growing app of the year; it now has more than 40 million users. Source: Business Insider.

Trend 4: Native Advertisers Clean Up

As native advertising continues to expand and infiltrate traditional publishing and social media, consumer trust will decline and legal action will increase. Brands and media properties alike will come to understand the impact sponsored content makes on trust. Native advertisers will clean up their offerings, and brand reputation will take precedence over short term gains.

Key Statistic: The most popular forms of native advertising in 2013 were blog posts (65%), articles (63%), Facebook (56%), videos (52%), tweets (46%), and infographics (35%). Source: Hexagram.

Trend 5: Marketing Automation Improves

The potential for marketing automation is well documented as is its impact on the bottom line. But most automation solutions are hard to use. Marketers don’t have the analytic and technical skills to succeed.

What is hard must become easier. Companies will put pressure on their teams and vendors to make marketing automation more useful to their businesses. Training and user interface evolution will make marketing automation a bigger success.

Key Statistic: Just 16% of B2B companies use automation solutions extensively, and 14% of B2C companies leverage the solutions set.Source: Research Underwriters and Ascend2.

During the webinar I will provide actionable steps if you would like to explore these trends and stay ahead of your competitors. I hope you will join us!

Featured image by Desmond.

Sharing and Collaboration

Businesses think they own their products and experiences. That’s why they brand them, put their personal mark on them, and make signature experiences.

The role community members play in creating and developing successful brands is a stark change. This collaborative shift is caused by technology in the form of social and  mobile, and a new “we” ethos brought on by millennials.

Last week, my friend Jeremiah Owyang and the Altimeter Group team released a major study called The Collaborative Economy that drove this point home.

Brands continue evolving from something discussed to collaborative distribution channels built on the premise of sharing products and services. In many ways, collaboration provides an opportunity for businesses to create a new sales channel, something I will discuss later this week on the Vocus Marketing blog.

Beyond the core business opportunity, the movement marks a larger economic and cultural shift towards community based models.  Socialism and its less successful offshoot communism produced global failures centered on fulfilling the ideal of community based sharing. In an ironic turnabout, the collaborative economy leverages capitalism to fulfill that  ideal through a pretty cool market based approach.
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