Programmatic Transparency and Self-Driving Media

Oh how the ad business has changed.  Not so much the creative element, although I would argue that advertising was far and away more creative in the last two decades of the 20th century, but the rush to embrace a digital cascade of data and social media that waterfalls into an ocean of swirling confusion for today’s CMOs.

When did it all start?
Could it have been with AOL when it first appeared on May 24, 1985?  After all, it was simply a communication tool and an online social gathering place. 

There was no useful search engine until 1990, when Archie (originally Archives) appeared as a database of searchable web file names.

By 1994, Yahoo (short for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle") launched to cobble together and categorized the community of searchable websites.

On September 4, 1998, Google (originally called “BackRub”) made its debut.  Today, Google argues that it has the “right to collect your most sensitive data, as long as it flows across an open WiFi network”

MySpace launched on August 1, 2003 as a more sophisticated social networking site.  But a fickle audience and the debut of FaceBook less than a year later, on February 4, 2004, contributed to its tortuous decline.

Then, the CEO of FaceBook declared “the age of privacy is over”.  And today, Google knows what you’re looking for and Facebook knows what you like and they both know where you are. 

The volumes of data that are collected via the digital pipeline we call the Internet, stretches the imagination.  According to SINTEF, a Scandinavian research organization, 90% of all of the data in the world has been gathered over the last two years, now classified as “Big Data”. 

What is Big Data and how does it act and integrate with programmatic media platforms?  

Big data is simply trillions or records of billions of people from a variety of sources to include the web search and surfing, sales, customer contact points, social media, mobile data and more.  It is a massive volume of structured and unstructured data that can be manipulated to predict the needs and wants of individuals. 

What is programmatic buying? 

In its simplest form, programmatic technology platforms allow for automated buying and selling of digital advertising via real-time bidding, akin to financial market trading.   

There are pros and cons to this emerging discipline, not the least of which is a seeming lack of transparency that tends to obfuscate the process. 

A recent study by Forrester Research for the Association of National Advertisers suggests there is deep concern and confusion by marketers with respect to cost, quality and real impact.   

But much like the unstoppable advancement of the self-driving car, self-driving media decisions will, in its early stages, suffer the cries of skeptics who mistrust the system to provide promised value.

The root of the problem is lack of trust …. not necessarily unwarranted as marketers and procurement officers pressure ad agencies and media buyers to reduce costs and service fees.  In turn, agencies consolidate into holding companies, utilize technology to reduce staff and increase productivity and, in many cases, act as intermediaries to purchase media and data in bulk, acting as resellers. 

As market evolution begins to demand the placement of enforceable standards for programmatic procurement , quarterbacked by contract guarantees, both marketers and agencies will win.

But both parties must come to the table with the knowledge that a fair and understanding view of business process for each will provide a rising tide to the benefit of all.  


Day two of the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo came to a close today.  It was the first event of its kind for this technology, bringing together over 3,000 attendees from 30 plus countries over a two day period.  It was a roaring success and will go on a road tour to Chicago, San Jose, Singapore and Munich.

A range of topics from cooking (you can print chocolate), medicine (printing organs for clinical trials), manufacturing (GE is using the process for jet engine parts) and building construction (architectural design) and fashion (print a dress) were covered.

And now Wall Street is taking note as we noticed participation by Lux Capital, Goldman Sachs, RRE Ventures, T. Rowe Price, Trent Capital and Piper Jaffray among others.

Deployment of the technology is now creeping towards consumer use, fueled by a consumer-facing company, ShapeWays, where you can make, buy and sell products (thousands of them).  The company's ecosystem moves from designer to distributor (ShapeWays), to the consumer and back to the designer.

ATTENTION ad agencies and marketers:  Don't miss the boat on this exploding, disruptive technology.  Your absence at the event was obvious.  Get ahead of the curve and a step ahead of your competition.  NOW.

You can review current, updated news on the world of 3D Printing at 

I just came away from day one at the Inside 3D Printing conference at the Javits Center in NYC and was blown away by the size of the crowd and the throngs of people stretching to get close to the exhibitors at the expo.

Several dozen sponsors and exhibitors took over a corner of the Javits Convention Center for a track series on 3D Printing 101 and tutorials on design initiatives.  As it relates to the medical industry and pharma, Lawrence Bonassar, associate professor for the department of biomedical engineering at Cornell noted that his “vision for this technology” would be to reduce the cost of medical imaging so that physicians can take profile photographs of healthy patients that can then be stored and used at the time of injury.

Why is this technology important to marketers today?  Because this trans-formative, game changing technology will impact manufacturing, delivery channels, the media and the way we bring products and services to market.  

How we communicate these changes and opportunities to the consumer and the businesses that make it happen is what marketing and advertising is all about.  For too long, ad agencies have taken a back seat to technology, reacting only when prodded by their clients or when they risk a collective review of their services.

We are on the doorstep of a huge new industry.  It's not too late to begin mining the intelligence that will keep you one step ahead of your competitors.  

A daily news feed on 3D Printing can be found at:


It's time.   

There has been much ado about 3D printing over the last few months.  While the application to marketing has yet to make an impact, trust me, it will be huge.  3D printing has been around for more than 20 years but has not been able to scale as the technology that drives the process was costly, running into the millions.

Times have changed rapidly and the technology is now running machines (replicators) costing as little as $500 for a kit form ($2200 for a plug and play model).

Unless you've been living under a rock, shock waves across the media are heralding 3D Printing as the next industrial revolution on a massive scale.

A recent visit to MAKERBOT, one of the few storefront operations at 928 Mulberry Street in New York City, provides a peek into the possibilities.  Imagine it and you can make it.  And I strongly suggest a visit.

The watch case and band on this post was made and purchased at the Makerbot store.  It's one of many items on sale.  The store can also scan your head and make a full replica of your head (shipped within a few days).

From time to time I will be posting on 3D Printing advances and the impact of the process (additive manufacturing) on the marketing world.



As the garden walls of privacy fall to invasion from outside influences, managing your online persona becomes paramount.  If you're in business for yourself as a professional (doctor, lawyer) or work in the executive suite of a major corporation, how you are perceived by peers, associates, potential customers and the outside world in general can have a significant impact on your fortunes and even your sanity.

Fortunately, a young start-up saw the need for a personal and brand management tool to improve how the online world sees you.

If you have a negative search result for your name or business, QNARY can help you drive down the appearance of the search result to a lower placement and generally make your rank less visible.

QNARY's team of engineers developed a process that pulls together your search, social and contextual touch-points across the web so that you can manage your online image.

It's a comprehensive tool that will eventually expand to brands, providing a measure of relief to personal and brand PR disasters.

QNARY encourages sign ups at freemium and low cost premium levels.

The video that follows will give you a good overview of the platform (click the enlarge button for a better view).


I WANT ONE! More to the point, how can I get one.

Toyota's concept dream machine is a cross between a three wheel motorcycle and a smart car (no helmet required).  This amazing little two person machine has a 30 mile range between charges and is perfect for short suburban shopping hops.  It charges on household current in 3 hours.  No doubt mileage will increase as battery technology is enhanced.

Toyota christened it the i-Road.  Their marketing group can create more buzz through a naming contest that would improve upon the i-Road moniker.  I'd vote for i-Hop but I think that's already taken.

Watch the neat video below and you'll fall in love with it.


Perception and reality, at odds with one another, have crept into that which defines the growth of mobile advertising and e-commerce (or m-commerce). The problem lays in the definition and perception of the term "mobile".

Mobile, as the general population defines it, refers to a cell phone.  The term has been hijacked by the ad community and the digerati (the elite of the online communities), to include cellphones, smartphones, tablets, laptops and notebooks ... essentially any device that can move with you.

As the devices swirl around e-commerce sites, the elite have pooled both traffic and sales to imply that smartphones are the lead devices.

That's the perception.  Here's the reality.

The "mobile" (or m-commerce) shopping experience is best optimized on a tablet or laptop.  his is especially true of the baby boomer generation (the demographic with the highest disposable income).

In the m-commerce world, it is estimated that 30% of site traffic is attributed to "mobile" devices and that 80% of that traffic comes from tablets.  Not surprisingly, 90% of the tablet traffic comes from the Apple iPad alone!  These numbers leave smartphones in the dust, yet the industry spends far too much time, money and effort chasing the phone.

An eBay spokesperson suggested that consumers move from mobile to desktop and back again with some form of mobile activity touching 30% of eBay activity.

Isn't it time for marketers to reconsider how they spend their "mobile" dollars before chasing the ever-changing (and costly) mobile phone formats.  Focusing on the tablet would seem to be a no-brainer.  


If you haven't heard of Flyboarding you soon will.  This amazing new ocean sport allows you to fly like a bird or swim like a dolphin.

Marketers of sports drinks and soft drinks take note. Sponsorships for this sport will be big.  Watch the video that follows for a quick six minute overview.


As the newspaper industry slowly moves its business model to "Digital First" in the face of declining print revenues, television should take its lesson from the digital first trend.  As production and distribution costs shift to enhance profitability it allows for better balloon trials for new programming.

"In Between Men", for lack of a better descriptor is a narrative Web TV series.  "It's a sexy new dramedy about All-American guys who feel caught between two worlds, not truly knowing where they fit in. In Between Men follows four friends in NYC who live "in between" a gay world, whose cliches they don't relate to, and a straight world they don't belong to. They are successful, professional men not defined by their sexuality. Through wild adventures, racy story-lines, joys and pains, underscored by the pulse of New York City, In Between Men examines the relationships between each other, their lovers, and the greater community."

Regardless of the show's appeal, the business story here focuses on the low cost production and audience trials that are available using the net.  A series of short ten minute episodes make up the season (season two begins this month).  

TV network and cable producers should quickly adapt the model for new program development and testing, cutting short major "TV First" releases and potential cancellations....eventually providing for a more stable TV program schedule.


Given the demographics of the Super Bowl, it comes as a surprise that Yum Brands' Taco Bell decided to market to the 65+ retirement community.
The strategy to reach an older, baby boomer segment is a wise one given they have a higher disposable income.  But there are a few disconnects.
The players in the commercial (watch it below) are well beyond Baby Boomers. Octogenarians.
Historically viewers aged 65+ make up only 14% of Super Bowl viewers.
The song track for "We Are Young" by Fun is Spanish?
A conflicting message could come across as "Taco Bell is for old folks".
Frankly, I enjoyed watching the spot and applaud Taco Bell and Deutsch for producing it (yeah I'm old too).  It's a feel good commercial. 
But spending $8 million for a :60 spot with questionable marketing ROI incurs a huge risk.