Posts filed under ‘Trends’

The Real Twitter, Courtesy of Guy Kawasaki

I had the good fortune of being invited to attend an EO Vancouver dinner and presentation tonight, featuring Guy Kawasaki (thanks to Dean Gagnon of CityMax for the invite). I had never heard him speak before, but I have been reading his thoughts now for many years and have been reading his latest book, “Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition, off-and-on since Christmas.  I do maintain that he is one of the most influential marketing geniuses of the technology world.

He gave the audience a choice tonight: his standard stump speech, open Q&A, or his rundown on Twitter. The audience voted for doors 2 and 3, and what transpired was a very insightful 2.5 hours of “everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-Twitter-but-were-afraid-to-ask” discourse and conversation (mostly about Twitter).

And as noted from in this post here about my thoughts on the Northern Voice 2009 conference, while I was starting to see the value in Twitter, I didn’t truly see its power as a marketing vehicle until tonight. And while I can see a lot of growing pains erupting over the coming months and years about what the medium can and cannot be used for, its powers are there for all to see. And it is not just because @GuyKawasaki has 97,000 followers [he did self-proclaim himself to be the “Tiger Woods of Twitter” and the fact that he has 21,407 tweets to his credit (approximate 50 per day if you work out the average since he started Twittering)].

Twitter is powerful in that it provides a clear opportunity to spread a marketing message en masse in some instances, while in others, it is one of the purest forms of one-to-one marketing ever to be invented. Person A tweets “I like green apples”. Company A responds “Well what do you know, we sell green apples”.

The marketing message is simple and direct. But then it grows.

Person A replies back to Company A (and to the 1,000 followers of Person A), “I tried your green apples and they were delicious. How about red apples?” Pretty soon, through retweets, engagement, and brand fulfillment, there are a whole lot of apples being promoted [and no… I didn’t intentionally try to create a blog post that would get Guy Kawasaki and Apple mentioned in the same paragraph to boost my SEO].

That may not be the best example, but the possibilities are endless, and whether you are pitching apples or golf courses, the possibilities could be very fruitful.

April 1, 2009 at 1:26 am Leave a comment

The science of marketing

Before I started typing, I checked the Category as “rambling” as I don’t know where this post is going, but I was thinking while driving home this evening (always a dangerous prospect). My conclusion: marketing is no longer an art. Marketing is now a science.

Back when I was at UBC, I obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts (English & Art History). And while marketing was not even on my radar at that point, I never considered myself a man of science. I mean, I always enjoyed Science Fair projects, but I really was not a fan of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc. Math was something I dreaded going to. The benefits of Science at UBC, was the 432 and some of the beer gardens.

When I got into marketing, I was focused on the copy writing, communications, branding, programs, and the like. I have been calling it “extroverted marketing” now for several years… though this is mostly to differentiate it from the “introverted marketing” that I was doing over the past 5+ years. Introverted marketing is the product marketing, market requirements, technical specifications, product road maps, and the like.

In conversations with my father-in-law (an Engineer), marketing has always been second fiddle to a man of science. We were the ones that wrote the “spontaneous quotes” to feed the executive team. Science was what made the world go round. But at some point in the past few years, marketing has become a science. I don’t know the exact moment it tipped, but it has.

This really hit home when I was reading a very good post from ClickEquations called “The Economics of Quality Score”. In this article Craig Danuloff wrote:

So What Is Quality Score Worth?
Knowing this is how cost-per-click is calculated, we’re able to determine the specific impact of any quality score on your cost-per-click.

And therefore the exact cost or savings from any single-digit increase or decrease in your quality score.

Yes that’s right – we can tell you the specific change in your CPC that is due to the quality score you’re getting for each of your keywords.

For example, your QS=10 keywords are enjoying a 30% CPC discount as compared to if they were QS=7 and in the same position. And your QS=4 keywords are paying a whopping 75% premium for their position.

This excerpt was followed by a very good analysis of the importance of quality score and how it can dramatically impact your paid search marketing activities. Check our the piece for sure…

But here I was, a self-professed math-o-phobe, reading with interest the statistical analysis of quality score. This is, of course, on top of the bi-weekly Marketing Experiments webinars on landing page optimization. More science.

Every day, I am pondering the stats and metrics of my assorted paid search campaigns. What gives?

You see. Marketing has changed. It is no longer an art. It is a science.

What does that mean to the world at large? Well perhaps the next marketing recruits will no longer be coming out of the art schools. Perhaps agencies should be scouring the Physics and Math departments of university campuses. I don’t know… maybe they already are?

Years ago, I was brought back to UBC by the Arts Undergraduate Society to talk to 1st and 2nd year students in a session called “Beyond the BA”. The focus was on what a person could do with an Arts Degree. Of the other panelists, I was the only one to go out and get a ‘real’ job. The rest had gone on to a technical program (BCIT), onto Education [when in doubt, teach], or onto Law.

The advice I had for the students at the time was that it was OK to go out and learn business on the job. Use your BA as an opportunity to learn how to learn, how to communicate, and how to synthesize. These traits would be useful wherever life takes you, and at the time this took me into the marketing of software.

But in hindsight, seeing at where marketing is at presently, perhaps the advice I should have given was this. If you want to be a good marketer, forget about studying English and Art History as yours truly did. Go out and look at the hard sciences and learn to do research. Think about the math programs so that you could discover the next formula for optimization. Be a scientist. And with it, you will become a better artist.

March 26, 2009 at 11:12 pm Leave a comment

Advertising Golf on FaceBook

Well I finally succumbed to the masses. I joined Facebook. Not as in the sense that everyone could ‘poke’ me or add me as a friend (I am still a holdout on that side of the ledger), but in the sense of that I am now starting to advertise tee times using FaceBook’s contextual ads for my venture.

First impressions (3 days in)? I expected to receive poor results, but I didn’t think it would be that poor. Here are some details:

  • Averaging 3800 impressions per day
  • Affinity targeted to those people who like “Golf”, “Golfing”, “Playing Golf”, “Vacations”, etc.
  • Geo-targeted to people from whom I receive a large percentage of web traffic for golf trips

The results:

  • CTR = 0.00%
  • Clicks = 0

The good news:

  • Ad Spend:  $0.00

I mean, I have heard that Facebook converts poorly and that the latest eye tracking is showing an increasing amount of banner blindness [one would expect that the results are higher for really sticky websites that people interact with on a daily basis like FaceBook], but I would have thought that I might have gotten at least one accidental click or something. But nope. Nada. Thank goodness for PPC.

With regards to Facebook’s business model, I am sure that monetization through advertising is not a sustainable strategy. And with Facebook expected to have a negative cash flow of $150 million for this next year, one has to hope (for all those addicted to their community), that they could figure out how to capitalize on the traffic, and more importantly, the knowledge of the “who”, the “what”, the “when”, and the “why”.

What are your thoughts? Will social network advertising ever work? Or should Facebook and others just hurry it up and get on with other business models?

I heard someone compare Facebook to broadcast television a while back [I don’t remember who] with the arguement that if NBC, ABC, et al could monetize the eyeballs with advertisements, why can’t Facebook. I don’t buy it. My interpretation: NBC and ABC are now fighting to prevent people from skipping over  the ads with Tivo and other PVRs, injecting commercials into programming and finding other ways to monetize.

Anyhow… my thoughts for the day

February 27, 2009 at 10:27 am Leave a comment

5 Things I learned about Blogging, Twitter, Social Media, and Myself at Northern Voice 2009

So here is the real post… the post that shows that I showed up at the event and not just for the keynote. Here are 5 things that I learned or observed at Northern Voice 2009, the social media and blogging event that occurred in Vancouver this past weekend.

  1. If the big one finally hits Vancouver, or more precisely, if the big one hits Vancouver at the precise moment a social media conference was occurring and the entire room was buried in rubble for thousands of years, future generations would conclude that Apple was the dominant computing platform of the generation. I mean, it was almost comical how everyone (except yours truly) was embracing Apple as their sword. Myself, I was toting around my beefy Dell Inspiron1720. Sure it is bright red and proudly sports an “I am a PC” sticker, but I must admit I had a bit of device envy in watching the Apple army wield their weapons. Part of me is left wondering if Stewart Butterfield’s keynote about identity (and by extension individuality) was actually speaking about this group. “My mac is a symbol of my individuality… and I am not like the other 100 people in this room… we just have the same tastes.”  … So what did I learn for point number one? I learned that if the blogger and social media artist is also the maven and predictor of what is to come, then methinks that Apple’s resurgence is only just beginning.
  2. Speaking of Apple and geekiness. I probably saw one of the geekiest displays that I had seen in a long time. Two attendees having a “sword fight” with their tripped out iPhones, complete with the requisite StarWars’ lightsaber sound effects. Me and my Blackberry once again had device envy. I learned that there is a big difference between a social media conference, and any of the enterprise software or traditional marketing conferences that I attended in recent years.
  3. I learned that an “unconference”, though unconventional, can be unnerving for many… or at least that was my impression for the first half of the day. Up until about mid-afternoon on Friday, I thought that the un-conference format in which discussion was encouraged would result in all sorts of insightful back-and-forth discussions, witty comments, etc. I was surprised that many in the room were just sitting silently staring into their screens while a few of us in the room engaged the presenter with questions and rebuttles. It wasn’t until I was shoulder-surfing while waiting for one session to begin that I learned why everyone was so quiet. All the real conversations were occurring on Twitter. And it wasn’t until that very moment that I saw that Twitter actually had some use [see point 4 below].  As a Twitter newbie, I had never heard of TweetDeck nor seen it in use.  But seeing all the comments back and forth as the presenter/facilitator worked the room, made me realize how much things have changed. You see, I am on that cusp of being old and being intertwined with technology. I attended a conference last year when the presenter made the point that today’s teenager and twenty-something was able to multi-task in ways that I will never know. Here was such an example in all its glory. It was almost like the whole room was passing notes back and forth giggling at inside jokes. I guess you can say that “social media” is redefining what it means to be social.
  4. I almost learned that Twitter has some value. I wouldn’t say mass value, but I can see 200+ people Twittering about a single conference and ideas must see the value in there somewhere. One of my reasons for attending Northern Voice 2009 was to get a better handle on Twitter and its applicability into the world of marketing and business. I mean, I am creating Twitter accounts for each of my ventures (though not yet for myself), but I really didn’t have a reason to do this… I just felt that I should. What the room was doing, when the presenter was talking and I was synthesizing, was that the collective was sharing real-time thoughts and observations, learning not just from the presenter, but from each other. I could see utility for Twitter in classrooms where people are debating the arguments of a professor as they are made. It is almost communal note taking if you will. Part of me, however, can’t get over the feeling that twittering your thoughts to the collective while participating in such a forum is kind of like going to a movie and sitting next to that person who voices more to themselves, though within earshot of others, all those obvious points of the movie, “Hey that song is Elvis”, “Oh all that garbage was collected by Wall-E. He must have been there for a long time.” Perhaps I am just being selfish (and somewhat unavoidably competitive), but I have always viewed my personal thoughts as my competitive advantage.
  5. There are a lot of smart people in Vancouver and a lot of people who have a lot of great ideas. People who impressed me and I would like to do coffee with…
  • Ian Capstick ( – Ian led one of the more engaging discussions of the day asking the question (“Did Obama really use social media to win?”). Ian seems to have done a lot already, appears quite plugged into the machinations of the Canadian political/social media scene [if one exists]. My contribution to the discussion was the observation that social media was merely an extension of his brand mantra of “Change”. Everything Obama did was about “change”. Heck, he is representative of the very word himself. And all that is social media (blogs, Flickr, Twitter, groups, SMS), this is just an extension of this “change”. As a somewhat related aside, I still maintain that there is an incredible opportunity for politicians to engage their constituents in “direct democracy” via SMS and Text Messaging. In fact, this is one of the verticals that we will be pursuing with
  • I also ran into Jason Landry with whom I worked briefly back around the year 2000 at Maximizer (I am glad he recognized me… I suck at faces). Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to connect with Derek Miller (whom Jason mentioned was also there). I also worked with Derek at Maximizer, and I can most assuredly say that Derek’s blog PenMachine was the first blog I ever read, and that was – I think – before I ever heard the word “blog” ever being said. It would have been good to see Derek, and wish him well. I have been very fortunate to not have many people I know be diagnosed with Cancer. And while I haven’t spoken with him in many, many years, I have been following his battle via his site now for the past 2 years. Keep up the good fight Derek.
  • Dave Olsen ( – I attended this unconference session by accident sort of. I was chatting with some of the attendees after the conclusion of Chris Heuer’s “Death of Advertising” talk [ed. note: meh… ], and then in walked this odd looking chap: floral shirt, a tickle trunk, smokey-grey fedora, and a smile that said that he knew the next 30 minutes was going to be fun. I asked those next to me what this session was about. They said, “wait and see”, and I am glad I did. Dave gave one of the more enjoyable presentations (“Letters from Russia”) that I have seen in a long time. Summarize it? I don’t think I can, and even if I tried, it wouldn’t do it justice.

Well that about sums up the event. There was definitely a lot going on, and I already look forward to next year’s event. Who knows, by that time, maybe I will be fully up to speed on Twitter, its use, and the appropriate vernacular to make myself fit it… as long as I have an Apple by that time.

February 22, 2009 at 11:08 pm 8 comments

Election Advertising using Search Engine Marketing

I launched another new venture today. This one is called Direct Voter ( Direct Voter provides search engine advertising for election campaigns.

Direct Voter Logo

Right now, there is a near perfect storm for elections in North America. The US elections are set for November 4. Canada votes 3 weeks earlier in its Federal Election being held on October 14. The media and the blogosphere is abuzz (here, here, and here) with the Obama campaign and its ability to use social media and the internet to control the message as no candidate has ever done before [I think someday there would be a great university paper comparing Obama’s use of Internet marketing with JFK’s use of television marketing, but I digress].

Much like that described here by Joshua Stylman at The Huffington Post, Direct Voter equips a candidate seeking public office with fully-managed paid search campaigns. The search campaigns encompass all major search engines and use keyword sets that are built around opponents, political issues, geographic profiling, and local/election keyword combinations. The end result is that the candidate receives great brand exposure on his or her name as well as engaged clicks through to the election website.

Search engine advertising for election campaigns comes at a price point that provides a far greater return on investment than most traditional forms of marketing (including direct mail, lawn signs, postcard drops, and most assuredly TV and newspapers). With search engine advertising, you also get brand exposure for free. This is because with the millions of searches that occur in your community, your ad will appear. But you only pay when someone clicks on your advertisement.

I must have been focused too closely on the economic impact of search marketing as I didn’t see what may be the greatest benefit of this medium (until my wife pointed it out). Unlike direct mail or postcard campaigns, advertising your candidacy on Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. has zero environmental impact. What better way to show the voters that you are concerned about the environment than with environmentally-friendly marketing.

Anyhow, if you know anyone who is presently running for office (or is considering a challenge in the not too distant future), direct them my way… or at least… send them over to It sure would be appreciated.

September 9, 2008 at 12:13 am 1 comment

Rick Shwartz’ “Vertisi” Interactive Display Advertising

Down in Orlando this week is the Targeted Traffic Show, put on by the Domain King himself, Rick Schwartz. Prior to the conference, Rick promised attendees a revolutionary new product that he expects to be the “next big thing”.

Ron Jackson in his Daily Lowdown of the TRAFFIC conference reported,

“[It] was unveiled right after lunch and the product – dubbed Vertisi – did indeed appear to be a show stopper. Vertisi allows you to lay a piece of film over any piece of glass and that layer of film becomes an interactive touch sensitive display that can be used for anything from store displays to public Internet access available from any surface the film is applied to. A projection unit casts the interactive image on the film. Schwartz has bought 10% of the company and has an option on another 13%. The live demo of Vertisi pulled a shoulder to shoulder capacity crowd into the conference room where it was unveiled.”

Now I am not sure why it was a show stopper, nor do I understand why Owen Frager, someone whom I respect a great deal and is someone who truly “gets it”, would paraphrase Jackson on his blog with the sensational headline of “Schwartz Launches Next Revolution at Traffic“.

From what I understand, this technology has been around for a couple of years now. It looks like Vertisi signed a deal with Portuguese-based Displax back in 2006 according to archived pages on the Vertisi website.

Displax was featured in the 2006 Best Business Ideas by with the following description:

Displax® projects itself in a transparent, holographic display, with high definition, visible at daylight, captures the customers attention, bonds with the reality of the business of any kind of organization and has customized sizes, witch allows its placement in window stores of banks or telecommunications store, with the certainty that, whoever passes by, will not be indifferent to it. It has a great impact! Displax® – Interactive window will be released in three versions. Displax® Interactive is the solution that allows people to interact with a projected multimedia application, just pressing the display with a finger. Displax® – Network allows managing displays placed in any location of the world, in a remote and central way. Displax® – Show allows you to present, in an innovative way, the products in a display, set in a window-store or inside the shop.

But perhaps this is just another example that those of us who are fully immersed in the next, “new, new thing” always think that everyone is already where we are. Case in point, I was having a conversation about domain names in a general networking session the other day and someone asked me “what a domain was?” [Honest!]. When I got over my shock, showed him the “.com” on my business card, I realized that there is an entire market of laggards and late majority technology adopters that are not where we are yet.

And perhaps it will be the endorsement of someone like Rick that is going to propel this technology forward. After all, the first domain names registered were in 1985-86 and it wasn’t until Rick (and a few others) spearheaded a marketing Eureka! that many still have not heard of.

May 23, 2008 at 1:51 pm 4 comments

Wireless Startups and Entrepreneurism in Vancouver

I attended the Mobile Monday event at Granville Island brewery last Monday. In their words…

MobileMonday puts on events every month that bring together industry influencers from amongst its roughly 25 thousand members to set trends, debate developments, foster cooperation and cross-boarder business development, and to profoundly network with peers locally and globally.

The event was a good one. I must admit that I’ve been on the periphery of BC’s wireless scene for the past decade, even though it is definitely the backbone of the BC technology industry. With most of my background spent in enterprise software and internet marketing, I kind of just put my fingers in my ears, closed my eyes and went “nanananana” I can’t hear you every time colleagues spoke about the advancements in wireless.

I guess you could say that I was/am a bit of a laggard user of wireless technologies. Perhaps I have a hard time envisioning full-featured applications on small screens. But a lot has been happening while I was sleeping, and some of this was fully on display when speaking with Michael Bidu (Exec Director of WINBC) and some of MOMO’s other participants. It was actually Michael who extended an invite out to me to “check it out” (Michael and I go back a good eight years now… we met during my first path through this startup thing).

I think what has kept me away from wireless applications (and the hardware side) for so long, was the fact that very few people were making money from this space. The old model seemed to be build a product and shop it around to a carrier with the hope that it they were going to push it. I remember somebody saying that if you only get a few cents on an application for each use, and a few million people try it only once, well that makes a lot of cents. But really… unless you were dealing in ringtones, adult content [on a small screen…that’s just weird], etc., there wasn’t much of a market for you. And silly me… I like following the money.

The theme for this event was “Entrepreneurship and taking products to market” — definitely right up my alley. They even talked about some of the “what’s coming” following what appeared to be half the room’s attendance the week prior at CTIA Wireless 2008 in Las Vegas, NV. What I found interesting was a comment that came out of a question I asked of a panel. Immediately after saying that mobile advertising “wasn’t there yet” to a person, this was how the majority of companies were going to be making money in the next year or two (or at least that was the paraphrased answer given by Luni Libes of Medio)… but that was to be expected seeing as how they position themselves as the “Mobile Search and Advertising Leader”. I don’t know enough to confirm this statement.

One company that does look intriguing, and for which I can see some real world “here’s-how-you-can-make-money-in-this-wireless-thing” business, was Razor Technology. I spoke for about 10 minutes with Ray Walia, Razor’s CEO, and then checked out their site after returning. Razor is pitching a product called FireTonic™ RIMMP (Razor Intelligent Mobile Marketing Platform). It sounds intriguing and I have to follow-up with Ray to continue our conversation.

Overall, wireless innovation and marketing seems to be finally coming around. I think I better pay closer attention in the coming months and years.

April 14, 2008 at 8:37 pm Leave a comment