Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Category Archives: Marketing & Advertising

Podcasts, Talk Radio For The 2000s

From Wired. https://www.wired.com/2016/06/this-week-in-podcasts-june-8-2/

I hated talk radio growing up. Driving in the car with my dad meant listening to WFAN 660 or Suzyn Waldman on WCBS 880. This, I did not like. Of course, growing up in the 80s meant there wasn’t an alternative for long car rides. I couldn’t simply put on my earbuds and stream Spotify. The idea of a Gameboy while a visual alternative would not fix the noise going into my ears.

As I’m sure all kids are wanton to do, when I finally had my own car, a transition took place. I found myself listening to WFAN and enjoying the sports talk radio. Parents, there always right…eventually.

Fast-forward years ahead and what I would say is that living in a city, be it Chicago, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis or Philadelphia – greatly reduced my talk radio consumption. I’ve never been an earbud wearing person and when you travel by train or bus, signal reception was challenging. Right at this time, podcasts started to have a moment, if you will. It just never caught on for me.

After moving to Minneapolis in 2017 and purchasing a Tesla I’ve become a total podcast junky. The key inflection point was the Tesla Model 3. While my Tesla can play music from an iPhone, it’s not elegant. It also doesn’t have an FM/AM tuner or XM Radio. That means – if what you’re listening to can’t be streamed, you aren’t going to be listening to it.

Tesla uses TuneIn and Slacker Radio as the foundation for their audio/music capabilities. Podcasts are elegantly integrated into the user experience. And with a 35-minute commute to and from work, every day, podcasts have become my go-to listening experience.

I know I’m late to the party. It’s like 1997 all again and my dad (all of you) was right…again. To be fair, there’s a lot of garbage out there in podcast-land, but there’s also an incredible amount of great content. A few of my personal favorites would be:

  • The Rewatchables: A movie podcast from Bill Simmons and his team at the Ringer. They take rewatchable movies (doesn’t mean it’s a great movie), rewatch the movie and then break it down. You get some history, some pop culture and interesting trivia. Plus, you get to relive a movie that you’ve seen before.
  • Stuff You Should Know: The hosts Josh and Chuck take on fascinating topics that cover history (Cleopatra) to topics of the day (Gig Economy) and so much in between. I laugh a bit and feel smarter after listening.
  • Total Soccer Show: As a soccer nut, this podcast speaks to my brain and my soul. Tactics, game breakdowns, transfer talk and pre-match analysis are part of this pod.

So yeah , I should have embraced podcasts way earlier than 2019. Thankfully, with the internet, you can always catchup…quickly.

Escalate or Defuse – Don’t Be A Skutch

Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon

Generally, when we think about the idea of a defusing a situation there’s a picture of two sets of people engaged in a conflict that needs a resolution or something catastrophic could happen. We’ve seen this play out time and again on the big screen – someone robs the bank, takes some hostages and subsequently triggers a series of events where a hostage negotiator is brought in to defuse the situation. But of course, in parallel, there’s a hard charging law enforcement leader that simply wants to stop negotiating and start taking action. If only it were so black and white.

There’s a fine line between being clear, specific, declarative, honest and being inflammatory or intentionally abrasive. What we often mistake for a certain nastyness, is in fact simply being direct and objective. Let’s not mix these two concepts up. Being direct, consise and clear are hallmarks of succesful communication techniques. But, choosing to be “skutch”, as my aunt would say, is bad form. For those not 100% up to date with East Coast / Long Island slang, a “skutch” is defined as “someone who intentionally behaves in an irritating or annoying manner.” Yeah, I was a skutch on occasion…when I was 11.

What I’ve come to appreciate are leaders, friends and team-members who actively look to be direct and honest, even when it’s about critical feedback, but avoid seeking to escalate situations. Doing this well requires a strong level of emotional intelligence. You have to be capable of understanding what might exacerbate a situation unnecessarily. It requires reading people and the situation. It’s a soft skill, that when not executed well, cuts like a sharp knife.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has been very clear about what his organization does with its brilliant jerks: It gets rid of them. As he has said in the past about them: “Some companies tolerate them. For us, the cost to effective teamwork is too high.”

I love that passage from an Inc. story about the famed Netflix culture that refuses to accept jerks, regardless of how brilliant they are. While this language isn’t in the Netflix culture manifesto, I think it’s safe to say, Hastings would accept the idea that those who seek to instigate and escalate, instead of defuse are not welcome.

I’d encourage your to think about that line between defuse and escalate – look at your team-members, look at your leaders, look at your friends. Who’s escalating? Who’s defusing? If you can defuse, but still be clear and direct, you’ll almost always be more effective than using language, that while clear – simply seeks escalate the situation.

A Year Away From Social Media

Image Source: https://futurism.media/forget-hal-9000-theory-says-wall-e-is-the-most-evil-robot-on-earth

Every year I try to do three new things. I find the personal challenge combined with the knowledge gained to be incredibly satisfying. In 2018, I tackled the elimination of social media from my everyday diet. During the middle of the year, I checked in for a week to see what, if anything, I was missing. Now with 2018 firmly in the rearview mirror, here’s what I can say about taking a year off of social media.

It’s impossible to completely escape social media. So much of how the web works today is reliant on the idea of leveraging social media for the purposes of access, consumption or communication.

  • Access: How many platforms, sites, apps, etc. do you belong to that require some type of social connection to log in? Every time you use Facebook Connect to create an account or access a digital property, you’re using social media.
  • Consumption: Much of the news and information we consume is on social media. In the last 20 years, we’ve seen a clear shift from consumption on site (e.g. ESPN.com) to consumption via the inbox (e.g. remember Daily Candy?) to consumption via the “feed”. If you want news, in all its forms and you want to know what’s going in with friends, co-workers and family, social media is the fastest and often easiest way to catch up.
  • Communication: Yes, it’s been said before, social media is the modern day water cooler. It’s full of gossip, casual pleasantries and respite from our jobs and life. However, even traditional communication methods like texting are becoming more social. And, when done right, the conversations that take place on social media are interesting, thought-provoking and memorable. It’s also fascinating and often times, helpful how quickly you can share something and have it reach so many. I was reminded of how wonderful social media can be for that purpose when my father unexpectedel passed away.

So, if we can’t escape it completely, the real question for me after a year away is, how do I make social media work better for me? If you will, how do you make it an enriching experience?

I still believe what I wrote in July when I checked back into social media:

  • We see the very best in humanity, but also the very worst.
  • Garbage in, Garbage Out: What you see in your social media feed is directly tied to what and who you follow.
  • As Gregory House once said, “People don’t change. They just become more of who they really are.” Social media is a mirror, megaphone and magnifying glass.

With that in mind, what I’ve decided is Lincoln was right, “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” In this instance, if you want social media to be a cesspool of stupidity, arguments over politics and incessant updates about Peloton/Soul Cycle rides, well, you will find it. If however, you aspire to see all the good out there, well, you will find it. To that end, in 2019, I’ll be doing 3 things with my social media habits:

  1. Clean the Feed: Follow what’s interesting and enjoyable to me. Remove the accounts, people and content that takes away from my enjoyment.
  2. Restrained Sharing: If there’s one thing I really enjoyed about being off of social media, it was not having to broadcast and share everything. I could just watch John’s basketball game or Cora dance during New Year’s Eve at a bowling alley, in a sparkly dress. Yes, that happened. In fact, you can have brunch without telling everyone about it on Instagram.

That’s it. Just those two things. I’m convinced if I do both, I’ll find social media to be the wonderful connected and inspiring forum it once was to me.

2019 Will Be A Year Of Haves And Have Nots

milky way [étude 9]

2018 was a strong year for my predictions. I don’t want to overstate, but I feel like I crushed them. Considering the complexity and difficulty of many of the predictions, I’ll take 18/22 and an 82% success rate as a win across the board. As we enter 2019, it’s time to think forward over the next 365 days to consider what will happen.

On the whole, I see less grey in 2019. I think we’re either going to see huge wins or massive stumbles. We will see wild success or critical catastrophic failure. There will be increased consolidation and acquisition. For many, it will be the only path for survival. I also think, at a broad strokes level we will see a major break between legacy organizations who were too slow to move (e.g. Sears) and those who continue to take control of their own destine (e.g. Walmart).

If you’re a first-time reader, please note, my predictions typically are focused on the marketing, advertising and technology industries. This means I’ll generally cover social media, data, agencies, product development and consumer trends. However, on occasion, I’ll offer thoughts that cover pop culture, polictics or frankly, areas that interest me.

I never use any insider information I may have. What you see as predictions are just me trying to read the tea leaves. Also, please understand, my belief that something will happen is not a declaration of my desire for something to happen.

At the end of the year, usually, in December, I’ll review each prediction and score it. If I get a prediction right I earn a single point. Getting it wrong results in no points.

With that out of the way, here’s what I think is going to happen in 2019. First, I want to start by revisiting predictions in 2018 that didn’t happen, but I think will happen in 2019.

  • Whiskey will have a down year. Year over year we will see a decline in units sold. The plateau is right around the corner. Rum and Gin will fill the sales gap.
  • “Robert Mueller’s probe will conclude and will yield nothing of substance. Substance will be evaluated as yielding something that would have grounds for an impeachment vote. There will not be an impeachment vote.” While this didn’t happen in 2018, I think it’s clear we’re nearing a conclusion to the investigation and I don’t see an impeachment happening any time soon.

Beyond what I considered in 2018, here are 18 more things I think will happen.

  1. Apple will make a bid for Tesla.
  2. Snapchat’s stock will fall below $5 AND the board will entertain methods to replace Evan Spiegel.
  3. Pinterest and Uber will IPO at billion dollar plus valuations.
  4. Amazon or Walmart will make a play for Target.
  5. Netflix’s debt and expenditure for content development will force one of two things to happen. One, it will sell/merge with Fox, Amazon, etc. It will take on a massive share buyback undertaking.
  6. More than 25% of states in the USA will offer recreational marijuana policies and laws. That tax money is too seductive for it not to happen. The country-wide adoption by Canada simply adds more pressure.
  7. Accenture will make a bid to extend their ad agency competition model, by doing one of two things. They will either purchase/merge with WPP, ironically becoming that which they’ve tried not to be. But, they’ll need to if they want a foothold on the paid media side of the equation. Alternatively, they’ll avoid the agency models, but instead, choose to own more pipes. Building on their 2018 acquisition of Adaptly, Accenture will look to purchase an organization like MediaMath.
  8. Liverpool will win the English Premier League. Manchester City will finish second but will win the Champions League. In doing so, Pep Guardiola will be back to manage Manchester City in 2020.
  9. Kevin Durant will stay with the Golden State Warriors and the Lakers will fail to recruit another big name to play alongside Lebron James.
  10. In 2014 I wrote about the idea of a Human API, where people would be operating in a more transparent environment and become brokers of their own data. 2019 is the year where it starts to happen. This will be lead out of the E.U., who have a far more restrictive approach to a free economy and are infinitely more anti-data use for commercial purposes. I think in 2019, it starts with a mandate to opt out of certain data being collected or used and a means for compensation if you specific forms of personal data.
  11. Roku will be acquired. It’s too small to beat out the direct competition but just big enough that with the right partner it could scale. I could see AT&T, LG, Samsung or Verizon being potential buyers.
  12. Travis Kalanick will be back in a big way. Since I try to be specific, I think a “big way” means founding another primetime startup or returning to the CEO role at Uber.
  13. Globally, we will see a decline in mobile/cell phone purchases. We are at peak saturation. Last year’s phone is just as good, if not better than this year’s phone. Little reason to upgrade.
  14. The 5G cellular spectrum will be made broadly available and two things will happen. One, Apple will NOT release a 5G phone. 5G will be so fast and accessible, organizations and countries will forego WiFi in favor of 5G.
  15. LiveRamp will sell to someone in 2019. It won’t be Salesforce. If you’re a company like Publicis an acquisition of LiveRamp makes far more sense than yet another “disruptive” creative agency. However, I don’t see them or another large holding company purchasing LiveRamp. I think it will come from someone like Google or Verizon. Why them? They’re two companies who rely on data for ad-targeting, but are generally blind to many forms of 1st party data, but for whom have enough data about people that a LiveRamp acquisition would be like throwing gasoline on a fire.
  16. We are at peak subscription box services. Blue Apron, Kiwi Crates, Birchbox, Trunk Club, Hello Fresh, Frank and Oak, and the list goes on and on. Too many services. Not enough money to go around. We’re going to see massive consolidation in the marketplace happen through merger, acquisition or bankruptcy.
  17. Ford, GM or Fiat Chrysler will have a bailout/bankruptcy situation. We will see the same happen for one of Indian Motorcycle, Harley Davidson, Triumph or Ducati. None of them offered a lower cost, less exciting and more electric offerings. The market isn’t big enough to sustain all of them.
  18. The scooter rental craze taking over the country will hit serious resistance. The South Park Scooter episode will become art imitating life imitating art. Too many scooters. Too little regulation. Too many potential problems.

Phew! That’s a lot. 2019 is going to be a heck of a ride if even half of my predictions come true. I certainly welcome your thoughts. Where am I completely offbase? What’s a sure-fire win? I’ll conduct my review of how well I forcasted in December.

What Happened In 2018? Was I Right?

Twitter vs. Snap Stock Price

2019 is just around the corner. While there’s still time for something crazy to happen, I think it’s possible to fairly judge how I did with my 2018 predictions.

The standard rules still apply. Each prediction is objectively reviewed. I’m a notoriously hard grader. A prediction that came true receives a single point. Predictions that missed the mark are awarded no points. While I do try to avoid half-point situations, there are on occasion circumstances where it’s fair to indicate I was partially correct.

For a recap of how things have gone over the years, here’s the quick summary:

  • 2017: 7.5/10 for a 75% hit rate.
  • 2016: 8.5/15 for a 56.7% hit rate.
  • 2015: 6.5/10 for a 65% hit rate.
  • 2014: 8/10 for an 80% hit rate.
  • 2013: 3/5 for a 60% hit rate.
  • 2012: 9/10 for a 90% hit rate.

To paraphrase the late Denny Green, was 2018 who we thought it was? Let’s find out. The original prediction from 2018 will be listed first in bold font followed by the analysis.

  1. The Apple HomePod will flop. The launch delay was the first sign. The significant ground it has to make up with Google and Amazon are another. But, it will be Apple’s walled garden approach, combined with price, that will ultimately make it dead on arrival. Umm, yeah. This was a horrible rollout for Apple. Everyone, including the analysts, thinks it was a flop. One point for Kmiec right out of the gate.
  2. The AT&T – Time Warner merger will not happen at all or will only happen if they choose to make significant divestitures. This is one that might change before the New Year. At present, it doesn’t look like it will happen this year. But, as is, this is a point.
  3. The contrast of #2 is that the Fox – Disney merger will happen without issue. Nailed it. Like taking candy from a baby.
  4. This will be a big year for M&A, mostly out of necessity. I predict 3 large deals beyond the above, from lands of media, retail and CPG. This definitely happened. Take your pick on which three examples you want to highlight. I’ll take Home Shopping Network and QVC merging. Huge. I’ll also take CVS Health joining forces with Aetna. And, I’ll take Hershey buying SkinnyPop. Those weren’t even the most exciting. I casually left out Amazon buying Whole Foods.
  5. Augmented Reality will plateau in interest and adoption. It was always a gimmick and the slow death knell of Pokemon Go is the tip of the iceberg. Yep and yep. AR is basically flat at best, to the most optimistic person. PokemonGo’s leadership indicated user growth has decreased, but in fairness, the hardcore users are still there. That is the clear definition of a slow death that’s begun.
  6. The concerns over Net Neutrality will be for naught. There will be at least 1 major initiative that shows how deregulation leads to innovation. This is a half-point. There’s yet to be a major upside or a major downside to the ruling. I could argue it’s been for naught, but I’m struggling to find that 1 major initiative.
  7. Facebook growth slows, but Facebook the company continues to see enormous growth, buoyed by WhatsApp and Instagram. Definitely happened across the board. Facebook growth slowed to an all-time worst. WhatsApp and Instagram continue to grow. Open and shut case.
  8. Tesla and Netflix will have down years. Netflix’s debt will be a problem for investors. That debt combined with continued growth from Hulu, YouTube, Disney and others will force changes. With Tesla, they will once again miss shipments, over-promise, under-deliver, but this time, it will catch up to them. This is a classic half-point scenario. As measured by stock price, they had decent years, albeit with Tesla a rollercoaster experience. Tesla did under-deliver and did miss shipments. Netflix took heat for cancellations and debt. I don’t think it was a good year for either, but a clean diagnostic like stock price disagrees. It’s a push and I’ll take half a point.
  9. Bitcoin and all its variants will see a massive fall off in valuation. This will happen as traditional monetary institutions continue their assault on Bitcoin and a massive data breach / hack / fraud / theft will take place. Bitcoin indeed cratered and continues to crater. Oh and yes there were hacks. Take your pick, like this one.
  10. Robert Mueller’s probe will conclude and will yield nothing of substance. Substance will be evaluated as yielding something that would have grounds for an impeachment vote. There will not be an impeachment vote. Another scenario where I could take a half-point, but I won’t. While there was no impeachment vote and still no substance, we still don’t have a conclusion.
  11. There will be a backlash against the #MeToo movement when false accusations are made and found to have been made for political or corporate gain. Definitely happened. The statistics show a backlash took place. The examples of false allegations for gain are definitely out there and some were significant. This is more than unfortunate, but not all that surprising. Sadly, one significant misstep hurts an entire populace. For every Rolling Stone Virginia Frat story, there are numerous real victims who will suffer.
  12. Twitter will have a better year than Snap, as measured by stock price change. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. As the photo at the top of this post indicates, it was was no bueno for Snap. Nailed it.
  13. Amazon will face a large government inquiry. It won’t antitrust, but it will be something in that area. I’m shocked this didn’t materialize in 2018. With the announcement of HQ 2 and 3, I think we might see it happening in 2019.
  14. Three things will happen in the gaming world: Nintendo will have a bad year. They will struggle to grow with a walled garden model, inferior hardware and a poor understanding of how gaming works on phones. The uproar over EA’s approach to microtransactions for Star Wars Battlefront II will shape the industry at large. Specifically, there will be an effort to curb or eliminate micro-transactions altogether. Microsoft will announce the next evolution of the Xbox. This won’t be a minor upgrade like the “S” or the “X”, it will be the next generation. Oh man, this was a mixed bag. Despite Nintendo Switch sales being better than I ever thought, Nintendo had a down year. The stock opened around $45 and now sits at $35. Not good. Microsoft did not release a new Xbox. As for microtransactions, which are often called “loot boxes” or “loot crates” in games, there’s a definite effort to curb this. In Belgium, they are now outlawed and considered illegal. This won’t be the last country to do so. I award myself a half-point.
  15. A major sports league will adopt technology on the field to assist with calls. For example, FIFA will adopt replay or the NFL will add chips into footballs to determine if they break the goal line. Sorta happened, but I don’t feel good about it, so I’m only taking a half-point. The Premier League became the latest to adopt VAR (video assistant referee), which is similar to replay challenges adopted by the NFL and MLB. We didn’t see chips introduced, but we did see things like the Los Angeles Clippers’ CourtVision product. It provides fans the ability “to customize what they see, including play diagrams in Coach Mode, real-time shooting percentages in Player Mode, and special effects and animations in Mascot Mode.” Very cool. The digital and sports collision will continue in 2019.
  16. Whiskey will have a down year, with gin and rum seeing a resurgence. Technically I could claim this for a half-point. Gin, particularly in the U.K. is up. Ditto with rum. However, whiskey isn’t even close to being down. It’s still growing. We can thank millennials! This was a miss.
  17. Star Wars: Episode VIII, the Last Jedi will go down as the worst fan rated Star Wars movie, as measured by Rotten Tomatoes. This is a good example of where I need to be even clearer with articulating what might happen. When I said, “as measured by Rotten Tomatoes”, I meant the fan score, not the critic score. If you go by the fan score, this absolutely happened. How bad was the Last Jedi? Well, it was worse than the Phantom Menace. Seriously. The Phantom Menace carries a 59% fan rating while the Last Jedi is only at 45%.
  18. Harley Davidson will introduce a mass-market electric motorcycle. This happened depending on your definition of “introduced.” The Harley Davidson LiveWire was introduced/announced in Q3, but can’t be bought til 2019. I’m claiming it.
  19. A major motion picture will be released simultaneously at the box office and for streaming. It didn’t happen, but we’re closer than ever. Netflix “announced in late October that it would begin releasing select movies in theaters before making them available on its streaming platform, rather than on the same day. ” The lag was 3-days. We’re getting there!
  20. There will be 5 states that will legalize/introduce recreational marijuana laws. The tax money is simply too good to pass up. This happened, and then some. In 2018 we saw the approval of legislation in Michigan, Missouri, Utah, Oklahoma, Vermont. Additionally, Indiana and Kansas made the usage of CBP legal for any use. The green wave, if you will, continues.
  21. Pinterest will IPO. It will be successful. This did not happen. Next year maybe?
  22. The lesson from Mashable will be repeated. So-called “new media” companies, once considered darlings, will start to implode. I see bad years for Vox and Buzzfeed. This happened and happened hard. As the Financial Times stated, “Vice, BuzzFeed and Vox hit by changes in digital media industry” and “New generation of once-hot groups forced to adjust models as rules of business alter”. And how. Was this really surprising? I mean think about it. When you’re overly dependent on Facebook for traffic and are so blatantly one-sided while catering the lowest possible form of literacy, wasn’t a downfall inevitable?

So, how did we do? Well, I started strong by nailing 1 – 5. Stumbled a bit on 6 – 10,  where I picked up a half-point on 6 and 8, a full point on 7 and 9, but whiffed on 10. Then another roller coaster of results on 11 – 15. There were clear wins on 11 and 12, with a clear miss on 13 and half-points on 14 and 15. On 16 – 20, I missed mightily on 16 and 19, but nailed 17, 18 and 20, while closing out the list with a split on 21 (no) and 22 (yes). That makes the tally 18/22 for an 82% success rate. I’ll take it.

With a solid 2018, my cumulative 7-year score is 60.5/82 for a 74% successful prediction rate.

I’ll have predictions for 2019 up sometime in late December.

Mary Meeker Is Santa Claus

Christmas is Christmas, but my “work” Christmas has always been the day Mary Meeker publishes her state of the internet report. Meeker is a legend in the industry and works for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of the largest venture firms in the country. This is the 23rd year she’s compiled her report. That’s just astonishing and honestly something worth applauding. Her report is always a treasure trove of data, insights, and trends that can benefit any organization.

This report is often well covered and this year’s installment is no different. My personal favorite link of the coverage is This One from Business Insider.

It’s a long deck, but worth the read. However, I went through the slides and the analysis to create a cliff notes version of trends that I found the most interesting, with my notes in bold.

  • Meeker asks, “Will market forces finally come to health care and drive prices lower for consumers?” Everyone industry, right now, is focused on value and experience. Retail is redesigning stores to improve experience. Hotels are improving the experience. Restaurants are focused on creating better experiences. Health care is doing the same. People will want more value for their health care dollar.
  • The number of Internet users now exceeds 50% of the world’s population. This is a big-time inflection point. While 50% isn’t 100%, it’s still mainstream and you could argue saturated in mature markets. That means growth is going to slow. It also means everyone, is basically on the internet. Remember when we questioned who was on the internet?
  • The average person spends 6 hours a day with their digital devices (eg smartphone). Building on the above previous point, if we want to connect with audiences, we really need to think about using digital more. And, digital isn’t just one channel or location. It’s MANY locations, tools and methods.
  • People spend 30 minutes each day watching video on mobile devices. I was equal parts surprised with how small this is and yet, not surprised we aren’t tilting our neck down for hours at a time. That said, building on the previous 2 bullets, to connect with people, we need to consider video and mobile. But, mobile is unique. We can’t copy and paste what we’re doing elsewhere. For example, a press release doesn’t read well on a mobile device.
  • Voice is no longer a plaything. Amazon has sold over 30 million Echo units and the accuracy of voice platforms (Alexa, Siri) is well over 90%. The future is closer than we think and understanding how voice “works” is really important. Creating content so voice can find it and use it is different than creating content for a laptop or phone.
  • Amazon has usurped Google as the starting point for product searches. Even as big as Amazon gets, they still need Google and Facebook to be successful. I think it’s important for a few reasons. One, yes, focus on Amazon, but if all you focus on is Amazon, you’ll miss out on all the opportunity. We need to focus on everyone.
  • Uber is not as ubiquitous as we think. In 4 of the 5 largest cities it’s cheaper to Uber all the time than own a car. The outlier? Dallas. We can’t just adopt a mass approach to a trend. Uber is big, yes, but not everyone uses it. When we think about transportation (aka ACCESS), we need to think about all the barriers and enablers.
  • There are an estimated 6.8 million people working in the gig economy. This is huge. Most of this is in transportation. But, what’s the next major industry to rely on the on-demand / gig economy? Would it be crazy to see this extend to health care? Probably not. It also makes me think about the need to take this into consideration when we consider talent / “hiring”. Not everyone wants to be full time.
  • We’re entering the age of the privacy paradox. Companies (mostly tech) are stuck between using data to make the experience better and using it to further their bottom line. This isn’t overly surprising and quickly this is going to move from tech companies to other industries. The fine line I’ve always advised the organizations I’ve worked in to adhere to is, be helpful, not creepy.
  • WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat have more than 1 billion monthly active users. I know people who use FB Messenger more than they text or email. We’re going to see these platforms, became real, well…platforms. For example, would it be crazy to use FBM for a virtual doctor’s visit? We aren’t far from it.

The above was designed to condense the 200+ slides into points that represent the opportunities and interesting points that caught my attention. Happy reading and let me know caught your eye.

What Will Happen In 2018, Maybe

Looking at the Eclipse, Sourced from NASA

2017 was a bounce-back year for my predictions. After a dreadful 2016, 2017’s predictions were good considering how risky some of them were. With 2018 just around the corner, it’s time to gaze into the crystal ball and outline what I think is going to happen. As I have in years before I’ll be using some basic principles for the 2018 predictions.

  • My predictions generally cover the marketing, advertising, and technology industry. On occasion, I veer into pop culture, politics or other areas that interest me.
  • I try to avoid softballs. The mainstream media already takes the role of Captain Obvious.
  • I never use any so-called “insider” knowledge. I simply state what I think will happen.
  • Just because I think something is likely to happen doesn’t mean I want it to happen.
  • Come next December I’ll grade myself. Every prediction I nailed gets 1 point, the ones I miss receive 0 points and a partially correct prediction garners .5 a point. Where possible, I look to avoid awarding .5 points.

With all of that out of the way, let’s get on with it.

  1. The Apple HomePod will flop. The launch delay was the first sign. The significant ground it has to make up with Google and Amazon are another. But, it will be Apple’s walled garden approach, combined with price, that will ultimately make it dead on arrival.
  2. The AT&T – Time Warner merger will not happen at all or will only happen if they choose to make significant divestitures.
  3. The contrast of #2 is that the Fox – Disney merger will happen without issue.
  4. This will be a big year for M&A, mostly out of necessity. I predict 3 large deals beyond the above, from lands of media, retail and CPG.
  5. Augmented Reality will plateau in interest and adoption. It was always a gimmick and the slow death knell of Pokemon Go is the tip of the iceberg.
  6. The concerns over Net Neutrality will be for naught. There will be at least 1 major initiative that shows how deregulation leads to innovation.
  7. Facebook growth slows, but Facebook the company continues to see enormous growth, buoyed by WhatsApp and Instagram.
  8. Tesla and Netflix will have down years. Netflix’s debt will be a problem for investors. That debt combined with continued growth from Hulu, YouTube, Disney and others will force changes. With Tesla, they will once again miss shipments, over-promise, under-deliver, but this time, it will catch up to them.
  9. Bitcoin and all its variants will see a massive fall off in valuation. This will happen as traditional monetary institutions continue their assault on Bitcoin and a massive data breach / hack / fraud / theft will take place.
  10. Robert Mueller’s probe will conclude and will yield nothing of substance. Substance will be evaluated as yielding something that would have grounds for an impeachment vote. There will not be an impeachment vote.
  11. There will be a backlash against the #MeToo movement when false accusations are made and found to have been made for political or corporate gain.
  12. Twitter will have a better year than Snap, as measured by stock price change.
  13. Amazon will face a large government inquiry. It won’t antitrust, but it will be something in that area.
  14. Three things will happen in the gaming world: Nintendo will have a bad year. They will struggle to grow with a walled garden model, inferior hardware and a poor understanding of how gaming works on phones. The uproar over EA’s approach to microtransactions for Star Wars Battlefront II will shape the industry at large. Specifically, there will be an effort to curb or eliminate micro-transactions altogether. Microsoft will announce the next evolution of the Xbox. This won’t be a minor upgrade like the “S” or the “X”, it will be the next generation.
  15. A major sports league will adopt technology on field to assist with calls. For example, FIFA will adopt replay or the NFL will add chips into footballs to determine if they break the goal line.
  16. Whiskey will have a down year, with gin and rum seeing a resurgence.
  17. Star Wars: Episode VIII, the Last Jedi will go down as the worst fan rated Star Wars movie, as measured by Rotten Tomatoes.
  18. Harley Davidson will introduce a mass-market electric motorcycle.
  19. A major motion picture will be released simultaneously at the box office and for streaming.
  20. There will be 5 states that will legalize / introduce recreational marijuana laws. The tax money is simply too good to pass up.
  21. Pinterest will IPO. It will be successful.
  22. The lesson from Mashable will be repeated. So-called “new media” companies, once considered darlings, will start to implode. I see bad years for Vox and Buzzfeed.

That’s a wrap. We’ll revisit this mid-year to see how things are shaping up and again at the end of the year to see how I did.

How I Did With My 2017 Predictions

Snapchat Stock

We’re in the home stretch of 2017. I don’t foresee anything dramatic happening between now and the 31st that would impact the assessment of my 2017 predictions. I’m using the same rules as I always do. Each prediction will be evaluated critically. An accurate prediction will garner 1 point. A miss, earns a fat 0. I try to avoid the middle, but if a situation should arise where a prediction could be considered accurate by some, it will generate 1/2 a point.

For a recap of my 2016 predictions, click here. The headline for 2016 was 8.5/15 or 56.7%. This was even worse than, my 2015 predictions where I scored a 6.5/10. I’ve been trending downward since the high of my 2012 predictions where 90% were right. The 2014 predictions had an 80% success rate, but that was better than my 2013 predictions, which scored 60%.

So, let’s get on with it! The original prediction from 2017 is listed first and in bold font. The analysis follows.

  1. “Voice” will be the new battleground and by the end of the year, we will see Amazon, via Alexa as the clear cut #1, in the category. As part of this, Apple will release a Siri home product, but it will not succeed in besting Amazon or Google. Ding, ding, ding! In June, Apple announced the HomePod. Originally scheduled to launch in 2017, it’s now been delayed til 2018. Apple has a long way to go to catch up with Amazon.
  2. The prevailing theory is that the iPhone 8 will be a revolutionary step forward for phones in the way the original iPhone was. It won’t be, as measured through new hardware and software features. Despite that, the iPhone 8 will outpace iPhone 7 sales, globally. This is the classic case of earning 1/2 a point. The iPhone 8 was not a revolutionary step forward, but it has not outpaced iPhone 7 sales. However, this comes with the caveat that I, nor did anyone else see the iPhone X coming.
  3. In a similar way to how vinyl is propping up music sales, we will see a renaissance in real books. Yes, books, the kind with actual paper, will see growth. Since this is supposed to be the “clear cut” section, I believe as a %, books will outpace the sales growth of digital/ebooks. This definitely happened. Per CNN, “The same trend is on display in the U.S., where e-book sales declined 18.7% over the first nine months of 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. Paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%.”
  4. The term “predictive analytics” will displace “big data” as the buzzword du jour for marketers. This will happen as companies realize they already have lots of data, but they need to start using it in a way that isn’t about looking back. We will measure this with Google Trends. This did not happen, was not even close. Epic fail. I actually do think this is happening at organizations, but it hasn’t become mainstream enough for Google Trends to pick up on it.
  5. The Verizon-Yahoo merger will continue as planned. It will be the 1st of 3 large such mergers that will be announced or close in 2017. Consolidation is the only path forward, when 99% of the digital ad growth is split between Facebook and Google. This happened. Verizon and Yahoo! became Oath. What were the other 2? Well the AT&T – Time Warner merger was announced, but hasn’t closed. The other? Well, that’s the hotly debated Sinclair – Tribune merger.
  6. We will see a significant decrease in social media sharing, but not necessarily usage. There will be more consuming of “content” than there will be in sharing that content. This drop in sharing will be fueled by 3 reasons. First, with the continued rise of “gotcha journalism” and social justice warriors, people will think before they tweet, so to speak. The fear of retribution for posting something, initially thought of as innocuous, will decrease the willingness to share. Second, the rise in the combination of “paywall” type approaches to content with “fake news” will make people less inclined to want to share. Third and last, as Facebook and others become more and more of media/content creators, the walled garden approach to building networks will stunt cross platform and network sharing. 20%!!!! That’s how much sharing is down on Facebook. Dang! Yeah, I nailed this one.
  7. Facebook will see the wrath of the new administration. In a similar way to how Microsoft was seen as monopolistic and anti-competitive, Facebook will be targeted for the same reason, in addition to being targeted for their perceived control over how what media is consumed. The attempts by Facebook to curb “fake news” will backfire. Fiscally it was a good year for Facebook. But, reputation-wise, it was not a good year. My prediction accurately forecasted that Facebook would be targeted by the administration and the attempts to fix fake news, did not work.
  8. In 2016 we saw a handful “startups” get acquired by the legacy companies they compete against. For example, Dollar Shave Club’s purchase to Unilever and Jet.com’s purchase to Walmart. In 2017 we are not only going to see more of this, but we’re going to see it happen in unique and unexpected ways. For example Whole Foods acquiring Instacart or Target purchasing Refinery29. So, yeah, this happened A LOT this year. Take your pick. We have Amazon buying Whole Foods. Then we have Ikea buying TaskRabbit. I still expect Instacart to be purchased by a retailer at some point.
  9. Twitter will sell to an unlikely buyer. For example, Bezos (not Amazon) will buy it and then bolt it on to WaPo. Another unlikely buyer would be someone like Microsoft, who would then integrate it into things like LinkedIn and Yammer! An example of a likely buyer would be Google. Fail. Total swing and miss.
  10. I’m bringing forward a prediction from 2016. I think I was spot on, but a year early. Snapchat will IPO, but the IPO will flop. Did I say flop? I should have said crashed and burned. The IPO started at $17 and then rose to $24. It sits below $15 now and the future does not look bright at all.

So, how did I do? 7.5 out of 10. I missed on Twitter selling, predictive analytics over taking big data and the while the iPhone 8 was in fact not revolutionary, it did not outpace iPhone 7 sales. If we go back to 2012, my 5 year total to 71% (42.5/60). This was a good rebound year. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working on my 2018 predictions. There’s going to be a lot chew on for next year.

In A Biddable World, Does Buying Power Matter?

Consolidation

Read the history books. Take your pick. Ogilvy on Advertising? Juicing The Orange? Where the Suckers Moon? All of them will paint a similar story, when it comes to media and media agencies. Consolidate your spend with a partner and they’ll offer value in the form of buying power. Additionally, if you commit to buying all your media “upfront”, the publisher also returns some type of value to the buyer.

This has been the case for decades. Media agencies consolidate their clients’ spend into one large spend with a publisher. Where possible they try to orchestrate one giant upfront purchase, By consolidating that spend into one giant spend, they generate a more favorable rate from the publisher and then pass on the savings to the advertiser…well, most of it.

For example, company X wants to buy media on Yahoo. But, so do companies Y and Z. Yahoo, in theory wants to have that money, committed, as far in advance as possible. For this example, let’s assume, companies X, Y and Z all work with the same media company. That media company, now takes the consolidated investment from companies X, Y and Z and uses it as negotiating power to drive down cost and/or create more value for the spend.

Theoretical “buying power” was and is, still a reason, for selecting a media agency partner. Better buying power should lead to better rates, better value and in theory, create cost savings. All of the above made sense 50 years ago. It made sense 10 years ago. But, does it make sense, now, today, in 2017?

What’s changed? Well, buying power works in a world, where there’s a fixed cost to negotiate off of. Let’s say you live in a condo building with 9 other tenants. All of the tenants need to replace their front door. The cost of the door is $500. But, if all 10 tenants can agree to purchase their door from the same company, that company might be willing to decrease the cost by 10% to ensure they get all 10 tenants to purchase from them.

But, what happens if the cost is no longer, fixed? When that happens, the idea of buying power, goes away. Let’s use search engine marketing, as our example. Companies bid on terms, with the winning bid (s) showing up as a paid ad on Google. So, if company X bids $1 and company Y bids $1.25 and company Z bids $2, company Z wins. That $2 bid might have been good enough to win on Tuesday at 3PM, but on Wednesday at 8AM, would be been lost to someone bidding $2.10. That type of dynamic marketplace eliminates 2 things:

  1. The idea of paying upfront for the media. Try asking Google if you can purchase $1MM of SEM, in advance. You can’t, because the value isn’t fixed. That $1MM in spend could equal 1MM clicks, it could also equal 2MM clicks or zero clicks. Because you on only pay on a click and your ads are only shown if you win the auction, there is no way to lock in a rate. It’s no different than buying stock.
  2. The concept of buying power. Whether you buy that keyword directly or use a company, the cost per click is still going to be a variable rate. There is no savings that comes, because you spend 10X more than the competition.

Search Engine Marketing was the first true biddable marketplace for digital advertising. But, today, most everything in digital marketing is biddable / represented in a dynamic marketplace. You have programmatic display, video, social, etc. All of them offer some type of biddable buying option. This is a big deal, when you consider that, today, more than 50% of marketing dollars are in digital, not traditional advertising mediums.

Does “buying power” exist, when everyone can purchase the same thing, at the same cost? Of course not. To be clear, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with a media agency. However, it does mean, if buying power is the biggest reason you’re choosing to work with an agency, you’re thinking about it the wrong way.

Happy 10th Birthday Cora

Cora's 1st 9 Birthdays

10 years. My word, didn’t they go by in a blink. Who is this girl in front of me? I remember you screaming, barely 7 pounds and entering this world with authority. I knew it, the day you were born and I know it now, you, Cora Madison are a force to be reckoned with.

It’s an amazing thing to bring life into this world. At that moment you know, you will never do anything better, more meaningful or world changing.

Cora, to think, at 10, all the lives you’ve made better, and yet, there are so many more more lives for you to impact.

2 years ago I said to you, jokingly, “Cora, you’re like my best friend.” And you, ever so cooly, said, “I’m your only friend.” Now, I don’t know if you’re my only friend, but I have no doubt, you are my best friend. For we have a bond, that will be timeless and unbreakable.

Continue to be bold, honest, assertive and kind. You’ve only scratched the surface of the woman you will one day become.