10 Nov 2016

Social Media Lied To You During the Election (and it's your fault)



Were you shocked by the election of Donald Trump? Did you think everyone was going to vote your way? Do you feel blindsided because you personally don't 'know anyone that voted for him'?

My Facebook feed today, (and the days following the Brexit vote), is filled with such expressions of surprise.

"But everyone was going to vote against him", "no one I know would vote for trump", "how can this happen"...

Your feed told you were right all the way up to when the votes were counted, and your feed is now telling you that you are right to be shocked that you were wrong. "Shocked".

However - many other people's feeds today are filled with "how did SHE get so many votes", " I knew he would win", "people who voted against him must have been idiots". They "knew" he was going to win....

They "knew" they were right all along. THEY are shocked that it wasn't a landslide for him.

How can two different groups of people using the same social sites have two such differing experiences?

The reason is as old as days.

We tend to surround ourselves with people who think similar to us. 'Birds of a feather', and all that. If I remember back to my genetics degree, we have a pack instinct that operates for our survival. People who are most similar to us are most likely to help us in times of need and danger. This instinct carried through to our thoughts and feelings, and (unfortunately?), out into the world through social media.

You may share a social site with Trump supporters, but you probably don't share a social network. The people in your network think like you. They shared articles and wrote status messages that reaffirmed what you felt. You in turn passed those on, probably editing your choices based on just how aligned you were, until eventually, you have a swirling mass of sameness. As it bounced back and forth amongst your network, it grew stronger through repetition. You felt more and more right, you felt others were more and more wrong.

Perhaps you unfriended some people who were "wrong".

Perhaps you wrote something angry in response to messaging that wasn't convenient to you, and thought "yeah, that told them".

Perhaps afterwards you then went back to the comfy people in your network to feel affirmed about your personal views again. Those views that "just everyone" shares.

Yes, we have an extraordinary situation now with Trump, I am not criticizing nor supporting his views here, that's not my point. My point is that the trap you fell into was to isolate yourself from others who dare to have a different opinion to you. You read the same publications every day, you listened to the same news outlets, you liked the same memes, you 'debated' with the same groups of people....

You probably did not do anything that felt really uncomfortable. As Michael Moore asks in Trumpland, as a Clinton supporter can you name 10 good things about Trump, and as a Trump supporter, can you name 10 good things about Clinton?

No? Perhaps you don't understand the other side as you think you do then.

I am not claiming to have taken much of my own advice during this process; I am just the guy who spent a career in digital and happen to know enough to explain to you why it feels like your social media lied to you.

I did however go do something uncomfortable on the issue of gun laws so that I could be more informed about those. I live in CO, and whilst I don't own a gun here, I spent the evening at a gun club getting a concealed weapons permit, and I talked to the other people about why they were doing the same. I can tell you that their views were largely very different to mine, but I now know what they are and how they got to their reasoning.

It can feel hard to be wrong. It can feel uncomfortable to have your views challenged (especially if they are deep-rooted, multi-generational views), but you can't win a debate or really, truly change someone's opinion without empathy.

If you are angry and don't know where to challenge your energy, go start by getting under the skin of why people voted for Trump - especially why women, Muslims and black people voted for Trump. What is it about their lives that is so terribly bad that allowed them to look past the hatred and the personal attacks on their own kind, and vote for this man?

I don't know if he will make it the 4 years, or whether he will continue to be supported and get the full 8, but I do know that if you want a different outcome next time, you must understand why he has the support he does, and think about what you could do to help them so they don't feel he is their solution.

Oh, and be conscious of your social networks. If you don't ever see anything that makes you uncomfortable, your bubble is too small. Let alternatives in. And when you do get uncomfortable, embrace it, because it's going to be a learning experience for you. And the more you learn, the better equipped you are to get the outcome you want.

9 Nov 2016

How I Explained The Election Result To My Daughters

A lot was made during this election of how to explain the result to our children. Well, I am a father of 4 girls, and I faced that exact problem today.  Three of my daughters are in England, where they watch something called Newsround twice a week, in what American's call home room. Newsround is a BBC news show for kids. It is not patronizing, it does not shelter them from the world, but it does present tough news stories in a way that kids can digest.

Newsround took the stance of being surprised by the result, but it did not shy away from from the outcome. So when they woke up this morning to Donald Trump as the new President of the United States, they had questions.

So I told them:
  • Trump is the new President
  • Trump has said terrible, terrible things about women, and many of us disagree with those statements
  • Trump is a undoubtedly a misogynist
  • But despite that, Trump represented change to people who could look past his flaws in exchange for those changes 
  • Imagine that - people who are women, who are black, who are Muslim, who were all offended by what he said, all could look past that because he promises to fix something they feel even stronger about than their own identity
  • That if they wanted to understand it, they shouldn't hate the people who cast their vote for Trump, but instead should ask questions as to WHY those people voted that way; what was it that was so bad for them that they could excuse their own beliefs
  • That they should understand the way they live, and acknowledge that those that voted for Trump must face situations that they don't yet understand
  • They can still be anything they want to be
  • They should still drive to be everything
  • Politics might not have been ready for this particular woman, but that doesn't mean they aren't ready for a female President
And it reminded me of a situation I had seen before.

Three of my children are 50% South African. I met their mum in 1997, barely 3 years after Mandela came to power. It was a new world, it was the final nail in the coffin of Apartheid. I was excited that this country had emerged from the dark ages. And whilst some things got better, many things didn't, and still struggle to do so. I didn't understand.

People at the time started talking about "reverse racism", which in my opinion isn't a thing. What they meant was that the hatred had turned against blacks, and instead focused on whites. That's hard for most Americans to comprehend - a country where the pecking order of priority for jobs became black male >  black female > white female > white male...

And during that time I met a man, whose name I wish I could remember, and he told me about the concept of a pendulum swing...

In South Africa the pendulum was so far up to one side (in favor of the white population), that it could not swing down after the election and just settle in the middle. That defies the laws of physics (and humanity). Instead, it would swing the other way for a while, driven by anger and passion; but hopefully not as high up the other way. And over time it would swing back and forth, and eventually - and hopefully - settle somewhere in an acceptable middle (which is slowly happening in South African today).

For Trump supporters, the pendulum was lifted well up to one side, the side that was against them. Trump is the opposite reaction of the pendulum swing. Trump is short term, but he is today's embodiment of the opposite side of the swing. Others will follow him. The next probably will be back the other way, only to be defeated by someone like him, or opposite. Until eventually - and hopefully - we settle somewhere in an acceptable middle. Trump is part of the system that has been created, an essential part of the process. He is a small step in a situation that is larger than our generation.

I didn't vote, because I am not entitled to in the USA. I would personally not have voted for Trump. But if we look past hatred and hate speech, and look at the macro view, we can hopefully see that Trump will make changes that satisfy some of the concerns of the other side, and then be replaced with someone who can balance him out.

President (Elect) Trump is not the end. He is part of a journey that this still relatively young country must endure in order to satisfy the many.

- - -

Additionally, a lot was made of Hilary Clinton "smashing the glass ceiling", and how her failure to win sends a negative message to our daughters that the 'highest position' can still not be occupied by a woman'.

Bullshit.

If your daughters want to be a politician, then perhaps that is true; (but I sure as hell hope mine don't, for their own sake).

Success is individual. My own wife is super successful at what she does, my mum was incredibly successful and built her own business, my sister is doing the exact same thing, my ex-wife is very successful as a teacher, my ex mother-in-law is a highly talented draughtsman, my wife's mother helped thousands of people as a nurse... there are many successful women, and one woman not becoming President should not be the example that our daughters cling on to.

Hilary (in my humble opinion) didn't lose because she was a woman, she lost because she didn't provide the solution for the pain points that the majority of the voters felt. Her loss should not be considered a loss for women; her loss should be considered as a loss for what she stood for and what her kind represented.

How I Explained The Election Result To My Daughters

A lot was made during this election of how to explain the result to our children. Well, I am a father of 4 girls, and I faced that exact problem today.  Three of my daughters are in England, where they watch something called Newsround twice a week, in what American's call home room. Newsround is a BBC news show for kids. It is not patronizing, it does not shelter them from the world, but it does present tough news stories in a way that kids can digest.

Newsround took the stance of being surprised by the result, but it did not shy away from from the outcome. So when they woke up this morning to Donald Trump as the new President of the United States, they had questions.

So I told them:
  • Trump is the new President
  • Trump has said terrible, terrible things about women, and many of us disagree with those statements
  • Trump is a undoubtedly a misogynist
  • But despite that, Trump represented change to people who could look past his flaws in exchange for those changes 
  • Imagine that - people who are women, who are black, who are Muslim, who were all offended by what he said, all could look past that because he promises to fix something they feel even stronger about than their own identity
  • That if they wanted to understand it, they shouldn't hate the people who cast their vote for Trump, but instead should ask questions as to WHY those people voted that way; what was it that was so bad for them that they could excuse their own beliefs
  • That they should understand the way they live, and acknowledge that those that voted for Trump must face situations that they don't yet understand
  • They can still be anything they want to be
  • They should still drive to be everything
  • Politics might not have been ready for this particular woman, but that doesn't mean they aren't ready for a female President
And it reminded me of a situation I had seen before.

Three of my children are 50% South African. I met their mum in 1997, barely 3 years after Mandela came to power. It was a new world, it was the final nail in the coffin of Apartheid. I was excited that this country had emerged from the dark ages. And whilst some things got better, many things didn't, and still struggle to do so. I didn't understand.

People at the time started talking about "reverse racism", which in my opinion isn't a thing. What they meant was that the hatred had turned against blacks, and instead focused on whites. That's hard for most Americans to comprehend - a country where the pecking order of priority for jobs became black male >  black female > white female > white male...

And during that time I met a man, whose name I wish I could remember, and he told me about the concept of a pendulum swing...

In South Africa the pendulum was so far up to one side (in favor of the white population), that it could not swing down after the election and just settle in the middle. That defies the laws of physics (and humanity). Instead, it would swing the other way for a while, driven by anger and passion; but hopefully not as high up the other way. And over time it would swing back and forth, and eventually - and hopefully - settle somewhere in an acceptable middle (which is slowly happening in South African today).

For Trump supporters, the pendulum was lifted well up to one side, the side that was against them. Trump is the opposite reaction of the pendulum swing. Trump is short term, but he is today's embodiment of the opposite side of the swing. Others will follow him. The next probably will be back the other way, only to be defeated by someone like him, or opposite. Until eventually - and hopefully - we settle somewhere in an acceptable middle. Trump is part of the system that has been created, an essential part of the process. He is a small step in a situation that is larger than our generation.

I didn't vote, because I am not entitled to in the USA. I would personally not have voted for Trump. But if we look past hatred and hate speech, and look at the macro view, we can hopefully see that Trump will make changes that satisfy some of the concerns of the other side, and then be replaced with someone who can balance him out.

President (Elect) Trump is not the end. He is part of a journey that this still relatively young country must endure in order to satisfy the many.

- - -

Additionally, a lot was made of Hilary Clinton "smashing the glass ceiling", and how her failure to win sends a negative message to our daughters that the 'highest position' can still not be occupied by a woman'.

Bullshit.

If your daughters want to be a politician, then perhaps that is true; (but I sure as hell hope mine don't, for their own sake).

Success is individual. My own wife is super successful at what she does, my mum was incredibly successful and built her own business, my sister is doing the exact same thing, my ex-wife is very successful as a teacher, my ex mother-in-law is a highly talented draughtsman, my wife's mother helped thousands of people as a nurse... there are many successful women, and one woman not becoming President should not be the example that our daughters cling on to.

Hilary (in my humble opinion) didn't lose because she was a woman, she lost because she didn't provide the solution for the pain points that the majority of the voters felt. Her loss should not be considered a loss for women; her loss should be considered as a loss for what she stood for and what her kind represented.

25 Oct 2016

Introducing The Online Safety Group

As the co-founder of 3 awesome daughters, I am very passionate about their safety. But as the current generation of parents, we are going through a brand new set of challenges, driven by access to the internet, and to tech devices. For that reason, and having got the summer off from the  Chango / Rubicon acquisition, I created the Online Safety Group.



The Online Safety Group has a simple mission - to help parents to help their kids stay safe online. The idea started simply enough with a few articles and community discussions, but quickly grew into a passionate community, and even a book "How To Protect Your Kids Online".

If you read this blog, the chances are you are involved in the tech or web industries, and probably feel like you have a solid grasp on what's going on. For you I recommend a couple of our recent articles that might just one day make a critical difference to you or someone in your family.



(FYI - As a do-er and marketer, building this project was a lot of fun. It was somewhat organic but makes good use of tools such as IFTTT, Squarespace, MailChimp, Unbounce, Fiverr, UpWork etc, so watch out for a future post on how to bring something like this together.)

Great TED Talk on Being a Now-ist

Deploy & test is the new normal.

As great as this video is, I do feel Joi Ito missed a critical point - A founder should stay connected to their product though for it to be truly successful. Danger lurks for the founder who deploys, gets funding, hires lots of people, has them own the testing.




6 Apr 2015

Exciting news - Rubicon Project to acquire Chango

Hi all - I have some very exciting news. On March 31st 2015, the Rubicon Project announced their intention to acquire Chango. Read more here:

http://www.rubiconproject.com/press-releases/rubicon-project-acquire-chango-will-bring-access-aa-additional-35-billion-intent-marketing-spend-premium-advertising-marketplace-accelerate-buyer-cloud-initiatives/

Thank you to all of our customers and partners for your past and future support.

Dax

15 Nov 2014

Manipulating Your Emotions With Photography

I have always been fascinated with how the media uses photography to set the tone of a story and communicate their beliefs. It is amazing how a change in angle can cause a different emotional reaction. In the example below, we see two photos from a recent meeting between the British Prime Minister, and Putin, the Russian President.



In the example above, the photo on the left is taken from a British news outlet. They have maximised Cameron's height advantage (6' 1" versus 5' 7") and made it appear that he is towering over Putin, backed with the British flag behind him, leading us forward against Russia. In contrast, the photo on the right is from Libyan news. The exact opposite positioning has been used, and Putin now appears to have grown more than the 4 inch difference.

This problem isn't a new phenomena. When explorers first travelled down through Africa, they carried with them the belief that white people were superior, and had always reigned supreme; the original race. What they discovered was a fossil record that questioned that belief. Without cameras they had to draw what they found, and that flexibility was too tempting. The images that were sent back to England were of skulls tilted forward and lit from above, giving the impression or a large, prominent brow and exaggerating ape-like features. Their argument was that 'these people' were not like the white people, this was a less-evolved species.

Anthropologists now use a standard scientific method when photographing or drawing skulls based on a concept developed by Dr. Lucae, which involves placing a a plate of glass over the object to ensure the profile is always perpendicular to the subject. This practise removed the ability to manipulate an image, all skulls became directly comparable.

Unfortunately, the news does not follow a scientific method, and so as a reader you must understand that manipulation takes place. To read a story from a single point of view is a mistake.

For another example, check out this article by Eric Stern about the 'Fox News Lie Machine'.
http://www.salon.com/2013/10/18/inside_the_fox_news_lie_machine_i_fact_checked_sean_hannity_on_obamacare/


11 May 2014

DaxThink Photography - now with TimeLapse :)

Hi! So it can't always be work! Technical photography for me is a great stress reliever, lately it has been TimeLapse. Check out these two below and let me know what you think, and come follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/daxthinkphotography and http://500px.com/DaxThink.

The Character Plague of Times Square!


Bird's Eye View of Times Square, New York



Thanks!

The Big Bang Behind "Project AreTheyOldEnough.com"

A few months ago one of my daughters told me that she really liked watching The Big Bang Theory. Normally it would be nice for a father and daughter to share an interest, but the problem was that she is only ten years old, and I didn’t feel that the show was appropriate for her. I talked to other parents about this and realized that there is no resource where parents can get guidance from others about what age really is old enough.

AreTheyOldEnough is that place where parents can rate shows and movies, with music and video game to come in the future. And I got the answer I was looking for, the average rating for the Big Bang Theory from UK parents was a conservative 12.8, and a more accepting 11.5 from their US counterparts.


Come to AreTheyOldEnough and pick a show, confirm who you are (to cut down on spam) with Facebook, Twitter or Google and then tell us what age you think is right. Click through the other shows and give us as many ratings as you would like, we want to hear what you think.

WTF Programmatic Marketing Series

Morning -

My absence here has been because I have been writing extensively for other publications. As a quick catch up for you, here are 3 articles you should check out in a mini series entitled WTF on Marketing Land.

WTF Is A Cookie, Anyway? Do You Really Know, Or Just Think You Do?

WTF Is Tag Management? Do You Really Know, Or Just Think You Do?

Enjoy, comment and come back with questions and feedback as always.


11 Nov 2013

AreTheyOldEnough.com - coming soon

A little while ago one of my children mentioned in conversation that she had watched Big Bang Theory, and could she watch it again. I love that show, but she was 10, and I really didn't think that was appropriate viewing.

I went to go find out its rating, and more importantly what other parents thought, and found that no such resource existed. Are They Old Enough fills that gap, and will be live soon (until then it will point back to this blog post).


25 Sep 2013

The secret formula for vendors and partners to predict agency revenue

Working with agencies is a beast all to itself. We love agencies at Chango, particularly the ones who get innovation. However, agency life can be tough, and media planners see certain perks as part of their compensation. As such, the reality of this industry is that the amount of dollars you will receive is often dependent on these perks.

Feeling the frustration from this, and the difficulty to forecast revenue, I created the secret formula to calculate the % budget from any campaign that we will receive.

Enjoy :)


7 Jun 2013

It's too late to bitch and moan about Google Glasses

I dont get it, I really do not. There are so many people knocking the arrival of consumer-ready augmented reality devices like Google Glass, trying to create a movement against them like it's Google's latest way to destroy the fabric of society.

What is it with this bullshit? Glass is simply one interpretation of the next wave of technology innovation that will change society forever. Like it or not it's here already and the quantity of people using it will only grow whether the naysayers like it or not. In the past I have predicted the segregation of society globally between the 'augmented' and the 'reality'ists' and I firmly believe that's what is coming.

If you don't get it yet, let me back up for a moment.

Augmented reality is the idea that reality is supplemented somehow with additional or alternative data. Google Glass aims to layer over your view of the world with your email, with useful data about where you are, with maps etc, but the data really can be anything. Augmented reality can replace reality in its entirety if you wish and replace it with your own.

That is amazing.

Imagine checking into a hotel and it looks how you want it to look, imagine being in a business meeting and you have access to every piece of data you want, imagine being anywhere and having secret access to the Internet whenever you needed it.... the possibilities are only limited by YOUR imagination.

And technology moves fast. It's Glass now, and Samsung will probably follow next with their own version, but beyond them it's contact lenses, and beyond those it's retinal implants. Given I am sat with a beer right now on my patio in the warm evening sun, I don't have the inclination or energy to justify that statement - just do me the honor of remembering my ramblings when you see it become real.

So roll the clock forward and now everyone has access to every piece of data they might want, whenever they want it. And they can tune you out and watch cat videos. And they can record you.

It's creepy as hell but there is zilch you can do to stop it. It exists in the military today, and it will exist in society before my young daughters finish their teenage years.

The biggest question you have to ask yourself is which side do you want to be on - the augmented, or the reality'ists?

30 Apr 2013

Brits for Brits – Growing an 'American' company in the UK


(A promise – if I am in your UK offices and I accidentally slip and say ‘mobil’ instead of ‘mobile’, or ‘cell’ instead of just about anything else, you have my permission to punch me).

We Brits are a fickle bunch, and because of that, we have had to play our British expansion carefully, and as Chango UK continues to expand, it’s interesting to look at the decisions we made, particularly around who we hired and why.

For context, I ran global media at an ad agency, and was first tasked with establishing the London arm of the display team. I used to be deeply suspicious of ‘those’ American companies that would fly over, spend a few days kissing arses, buy a few dinners for us colloquial folk, and then leave in a cloud of pending IOs.

It would frustrate me because they would often bring the innovative ideas with them, the cool new stuff that simply hadn’t hit in the UK yet, but they didn’t have a real local business, and in fact barely more then a registered legal address somewhere. They had no plans to have a real human being that I could meet with after their plane took off, and they didn’t understand the landscape.

To them the UK is England, with no context of our immediate neighbours that make up the UK, even if some of them want to leave the party alone (ahem Scotland, I am looking at you)! And even worse, to them England is London, ignoring the immense talent that sits in Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Ipswich, Brighton and many, many more places.

The problem for the companies doing the selling is that the UK is about one sixth the size of the US, and so the IOs are smaller, yet require the same amount of effort to close and deliver. The UK is often an afterthought, a box to tick when they can get around to it. And I understood those pressures, but I had to balance the excitement for their product with the question of 'could they really deliver'.

It was therefore critical for us that the Chango UK leadership were Brits through and through.; I am a Blackpool lad for goodness sake, and Martyn was born in Hemel Hempstead - can it get more British than that?!

And we weren’t short of candidates – many of my US and Canadian teams volunteered for the role of moving to London for ‘the good of the company’, and many others from outside applied, but it was very important that our team were local, spoke the language and understood the landscape.  It’s great to have a list of agencies to target that you already partner with in America, but it takes a local to know where the really valuable relationships are, and what they need.

The UK is going extremely well for us with many agencies and brands already on to their renewals thanks to the service and success they have seen, long may it continue.

I am in the UK every 2 weeks, and Martyn is there full-time with the team - if you would like to hear the story for yourself feel free to reach out through the site, or drop us an email. We offer the full range of Chango to the UK market including our self-serve Programmatic Marketing Platform, Search Retargeting, Programmatic Site Retargeting and Look-alike Targeting. And as the 2nd largest source of search data in the UK (just after Google), no one can beat us on performance.

20 Apr 2013

I want to pay more for your ad inventory! But in return...

Catching up on the last few weeks of craziness. I was at home in San Francisco in time for AdTech recently, walking the floor and looking at all the silliness. To me the valuable part of that show is Innovation Alley where new companies get to showcase what they have. Was very impressed with news companies like Sophia, Whit.li and OnlineMediaDiva, and wish them well after the show. We actually exhibited Chango back in the Alley a few years back with great success, and went on to win the innovation award. Not that I am bragging. Well, a little :)

During the show I was invited to the 'Programmatic Breakfast', hosted by SpotXchange and TubeMogul, all about RTB video inventory. They did a good job with the venue and content, and I will never say no to french toast in a mug! The people in the room were an interesting mix; at my table were several of my own agency clients, all buyers, all theoretically incentivized to want media as cheap as possible. And in contrast were a lot of publishers, all counter-incentivized of course to want inventory to be as expensive as possible.

Perhaps the venue should have included a boxing ring, or a jello-wrestling pit.

During the opening speech by SpotXchange, our host revealed new features for publishers, particularly the addition of geo-specific floor prices for video inventory. I had assumed such a thing was commonplace, but it turns out is actually quite new. During the preamble, they jokingly apologised to the buyers in the room for driving up media prices further.

My thought on this is actually different. I don't mind their tools driving media prices up, as long as the media then represents better value. That value can be determined by placement quality (above the fold, first look, alongside better content etc) or by passing more data in the bid request, that let's us be smarter with our pricing.

Media is dirt cheap today. If you eliminate all the real crap then the average cost of RTB media is $0.80 to $1.00. Most exchange media is being bought by the major retargeting companies, and they typically charge their clients a minimum of $5.00, and can still demonstrate huge ROIs for their clients. With advertisers being screwed that badly, there is plenty of room for media prices to increase.

I would rather see an advertiser pay $2.00 CPM for the media, and work with companies like Chango that charge a margin much less than the others, and the advertiser end up paying under $3.00 all in, rather than the typical $5.00 today (and don't come arguing for CPC and clicks - there is far too much data that shows the click is a con).

In this scenario the publishers win, they get a bit of breathing space and can then invest in better content. In turn the advertiser wins because they then get to place their ads in a higher quality place, which will perform better. In fact the only people that lose are the companies making 80% margins from their clients!

So, SpotXchange should build these tools, and should help publishers generate higher returns - but, in return, publishers need to invest in their product and improve what they have.

3 Apr 2013

How 3 recent hires defined us as a company

I feel lately that I have been doing nothing but interviewing candidates, bouncing around the US and the UK meeting person after person, finding new talent to come support our growth. There is an argument that says I shouldn't be doing this, I have Leads for all divisions, but to me it is critical to help the team with a sanity check and make sure everyone is the right fit.

Of particular importance to me are our Sales and Client Services teams. These individuals are our brand; the whole experience a lot of our clients have with us as a company is with these people. Not only must they be nothing short of outstanding at what they do, they must also share our core beliefs, and embody those when they meet prospects and clients.

That is an undefinable 'X', nothing that you can communicate to a recruiter, yet is something you know within 60 seconds of meeting anyone. But none of us are perfect, particularly when picking sales people who are trained to convince, and so we back each other up and have multiple interviews before making the decision.

Your mum!
I had a candidate recently ask a lot of questions about our culture and beliefs. I explained our core beliefs, and they then asked a GREAT question:

"Would you let your mum buy a solution from Chango?"

Now my mum doesn't work in marketing, and doesn't really understand what I do, but I understand his point immediately. He was shocked that my resounding and immediate response was 'yes'! With equal passion he said he would not have let his mother buy what they sold at his previous employer, that it was riddled with problems and much, much worse.

This question defines our integrity, and is an example I will use time and time again in interviews to come.

It's real!
Another recent hire came in to help support our Platform Sales team. I had naturally explained our systems during the interview process, (although I didn't lift the skirt completely until they were onboard and signed of course).

So in a demo yesterday I was surprised to hear him exclaim that we actually have a real system! This is an individual though who has been a part of many younger companies, and has been tricked more than once. He explained that he assumed we had 75% of what was described, and if it was more it would have been a bonus, but he assumed everything else was vaporware.

After the demo he was shocked. Having looked at the other major DSPs and DMPs in the industry, he wasn't aware that he was joining a company that has quietly built something that in many areas is more than 12 months ahead of all them. This wasn't a bullshit system, this was really real, and really solving real marketing problems, really :)

Knocking down his 75% thinking defines our attitudes to honesty and innovation.

You're smart!
Finally, another recent hire invited me in to meet with a particular advertiser with whom he had a major, long-standing relationship. She asked us to go in with her and deliver an educational session about view-through, agency< > vendor relationships, and more. There was to be no pitch.

After we left, her reaction was that we really knew what we were talking about, that we had lots of smart people and that we had this great, open attitude to training and teaching - to our clients and to the industry.

This was cemented for me when I spoke at SES NY last week and 3 marketers came up to me with printed versions of our white papers and articles, each saying they had learnt something from our work.

Ensuring we have smart people is fundamental to our success.

So within 3 weeks, these 3 new hires came in, looked around, and helped remind us all that no matter how we grow (700% YOY), no matter how many people come join us, we believe what we believe, and we don't compromise on what defines us - honesty, integrity, innovation, raw smarts,

23 Feb 2013

Amazon solves the local delivery problem with Lockers?

I can't claim this to be breaking news, quite the opposite in fact, but I stumbled across an Amazon Locker in Reading in the UK this week, and it was news to me! The basic idea is great - instead of having a parcel delivered to your house, you have it delivered to a Locker near you. When you are ready, enter the code Amazon sent you, and the right unit opens for you to collect your goods.

You can read more about this service in reviews by Venture Beat and Business Insider, or search for an Amazon Locker near you, here.


BMW mock the UK horsemeat scandal with great ad

I am back in London this week for #SESLON, speaking about retargeting / remarketing, as well as a couple of topics on Programmatic Marketing and Big Data (see 'Why Programmatic Marketing and Big Data Actually Matter' to learn more about these terms).

Anyhow, saw this ad on the back of the newspaper. Right now in England there is a really strange story that horsemeat has been found in most products that said they were actually beef.

The reaction has been predictable - outrage - but it feels like it is not for any rational reason, and more because the media told people they should be outraged. Oh well. There is nothing wrong with horsemeat, and in fact I ate it on more then one occasion whilst in France. A presenter on BBC radio made a very funny comment that 'half the tweets they are getting about the horse meat scandal are outrage, and the other half are from members of the public asking where they can buy horsemeat if it's so damn cheap!'.

Anyway, BMW did a great job of capitalizing on this story, and executed brilliantly with this full-page ad on the back of a newspaper. Tip of the hat to whoever had the idea, and also to BMW for having a working culture that means an idea like this isn't killed in the boardroom, or through procrastination.

20 Feb 2013

Interesting facts about Twitter from presentation at SES London #SESLON


I am in London this week for Chango at #SESLON and went in to listen to the keynote speaker from Twitter before my own presentation. Jotted these facts down, some interesting stuff about what's going on at Twitter. Note that they rightfully picked a UK focus to some of these facts given the audience.

  • Twitter describe themselves as 'the pulse of the planet'
  • Twitter is "the shortest distance between you and what interests you most"
  • 1bn tweets every 2.5 days globally
  • 80% of UK twitter users access via mobile, in US it's 55%
  • 95% of discussion about TV programs takes place on Twitter
  • 60% use Twitter whilst engaging with TV
  • 40% of all Twitter traffic at peak time is about TV
  • During a reality show in the Uk, a contestant called her song #beerfear, and generated 28k tweets in 2 minutes
  • 50% of SuperBowl ads this year had a hashtag in them; Mercedes had a great campaign in October too with a very successful use of the tag #youdrive to promote their campaign
  • Also referenced the Oreo cookie ad during the blackout of the SuperBowl and picked up 14,000 RTs - allowed for an instant ad campaign
  • 140 characters came about because it fit into a single SMS message, now they say it's part of their ethos of constrained publishing
  • The guy who jumped from space for Red Bull had a pedal under his foot allowing him to tweet live during the process
  • Interesting example of how O2 (UK's second largest cell network) are very close to the edge in their social media activities, but are winning big because of this in this specific market http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jul/12/o2-tweets - some of these get 5k retweets
  • Talked about Amex Sync as a way to 'reduce the friction to buy things'
  • Discussed how businesses can use their ad platform by conquesting followers of your competitors
  • O2 link their cell accounts to users' twitter accounts allowing them to measure LTV (life time value), but Twitter don't know what that data shows as of yet
  • Photos are RT'ed more than videos, or anything else
  • Audience member challenged speaker that Twitter has become less democratic, and is now brand safe to support their ad business, example was recent Burger King incident. Twitter responded very well saying that advertising is important to them and say they have taken steps to be more brand safe, but remain open.

4 Jan 2013

I almost vomited on a prospect yesterday #MediaSales

Was with a great prospective client yesterday, talking about something that I really want to get done with them, and showing a new sales guy the ropes. It was certainly a meeting that I wanted to go well :)

So 2 hours before the pitch starts I fly in and meet my new colleague for lunch. Seems a good place, I have what seems like a quality burger and all seems well. We work from the restaurant for another hour and head over to the meeting.

On the walk I start to get the sweats, the stomach is spinning like a washing machine and the world is being very annoying by making straight lines bend at random moments. The sidewalk just won't lie still damn it, it's about a billion degrees in the Seattle January, and I feel I am going to see my lunch again.

We meet and greet and make smalltalk with the client whilst waiting for their colleagues to vacate the conference room. I had to excuse myself and make the sickliest sweet coffee I have ever drunk - if I had put a straw in it, it would have stood up straight and stayed there! I notice their office is somewhat annoying as it is spinning around and around and around and I just wish they would switch it off.

I made the decision to stay, but politely told the prospect I felt terrible, had suspected food poisoning etc, and that please don't feel me rude if I get up and leave suddenly. We begin, and I am clenching everything I have got. The clients are super cool, really intelligent and hit me with interesting questions, which always makes this more fun, but there were a few that I barely heard and can't quite remember what my answers were. As I launch into the closing statements, the adrenalin is seeing me through, my stomach is under strictest orders not to show everyone what the offending meal consisted of and I haven't burped at them once.

90 minutes flies by, as do the walls and the empty chairs, and I walk out proudly keeping my "never vomited or pooped in a client's conference room" scout badge intact.

#MediaSales

19 Dec 2012

Big news - Chango gets direct Facebook access, brings search to social

Big news over at Chango towers this morning! Thanks to us being the 2nd largest source of search data in the US, with more data than Yahoo! or Bing in a month, advertisers can now target facebook users based on their searches on those engines, but within the Facebook environment.

Unlike Facebook Marketplace ads, the Facebook Exchange (FBX) ads do not use any data from an individuals user profile, and instead the advertiser must bring their own data to determine who to target and at what value. Our clients use us primarily for prospecting, and what better combination for that than crazy strong search intent data, and the media opportunity that FBX represents.

Further, we have a number of extremely large publisher clients that utilize our platform directly to monetize their own inventory and / or data, and they can now extend their campaigns across FBX on behalf of their advertisers. As the only platform that combines a DSP and DMP with real-time targeting, (a Programmatic Marketing Platform) our clients will be using search data that is just seconds old when making these purchasing decisions.

FBX represents a challenge for some advertisers in that their preferred ad format is not a standard IAB unit, and so many advertisers simply don't have access to appropriate units ready to go. As a result we have had to add a full-service creative production team to our arsenal, and will now produce the required units for our clients. It isn't a difficult thing to do, but makes a big difference for those clients who wouldn't ordinarily have the resources to make this happen.

And thanks to their new View Tags offering, advertisers can track how their campaigns are performing - they won't be able to serve the ads with their preferred ad server yet, but they can at least piggyback a conversion pixel and track conversions.


9 Dec 2012

Wow, so the 'Kessler Effect' is pretty damn serious!

I write mostly about advertising, and occasionally science & technology when it relates to new developments such as 3D printing and Augmented Reality. And this stuff is really, really cool, and we presume with little doubt that it will emerge one day. Just look at the film Minority Report and how futuristic it was back in 2002, but yet in 10 short years, most of that technology is real today.

Most of these new technologies rely on a backbone of communication which includes a need for satellites - a lot of them. And that's not a problem right? They are so easy to build now that amateurs have started to do so, and find ways to launch them into low orbit.

Well, the Kessler Effect (or Kessler Syndrome) might change your thinking. It was proposed by Donald J. Kessler back in 1978 whilst he was a scientist at NASA. In brief, the Kessler Effect says that there will be so much 'stuff' up in orbit that eventually collisions will start to occur, and those will cause more 'stuff' to be in orbit, which will lead to more collisions...


The opposing theory of there being so much space that collisions are extremely unlikely, is now looking pretty weak when you start to look at maps that track all the satellites - and garbage - that floats around in our 'little' orbit. It is reported by the United States Space Surveillance Network (SSN) that there are some 3,000 satellites orbiting the Earth today, and a further 5,000 other man made objects (mostly garbage leftover from our space activities) up there too - and that's only the stuff over 4 inches in size!

A tiny piece of junk travelling at 20,000 MPH could destroy a satellite or the International Space Station (ISS) quite easily, or certainly puncture a hole big enough to give astronauts serious worries. And in fact, the SSN has tracked nearly 25,000 pieces of debris in its time, with most now having burnt up in the atmosphere, or fallen to Earth.

What made this all very real for me was a trip to the Science Museum in London with my kids. They were watching a video of satellites orbiting the Earth and simply couldn't believe it; and I don't blame them, if you do get to see it, it is quite astonishing what we have done in the short 60 years since Russia launched the first Sputnik.

And so I started to look into this problem, and discovered that Kessler was quite right. In February 2009, two satellites collided at over 24,000 MPH. One was an active communications device, and the other a defunct Russian Space Forces unit, deactivated back in 1995. Of deep concern is the report from SSN that over 2,000 pieces of additional space debris measuring over 4 inches were created from the impact, and a countless number of smaller pieces.

Without wanting to sound alarmist, all of those pieces are now also in orbit ready to cause the next collision, which in turn will create thousands more pieces of debris, which in turn... will prove Kessler right.

All this debris causes real concern. Space launches have to be planned around it, satellites maneuvered to avoid it, and in March of this year, one large piece caused the residents of the ISS to take shelter in their escape pod until it had passed. And we are talking about objects 4 inches small that is thousands of miles away and happen to be moving at incredible speeds, and so accurate tracking is almost impossible. Indeed, it was estimated that the two satellites in 2009 that collided would actually miss each other by 584 metres!

Some scientists are concerned that Kessler will be proved right on a grand scale, and that we will have so much debris in space soon that we will be limited in the number of satellites we can use successfully, and that manned space missions may be cancelled for several generations whilst we wait for all that garbage to burn up.

Why the sky is dark at night... it's not what you think

In honor of the recent passing of Sir Patrick Moore (at 89 years old), I bring you a great little animation as to why the sky is dark at night. Worth watching (and sharing with your children), and I bet it is not what you expected.


R.I.P. Sit Patrick Moore

Amazing guy, incredible scientist. One of the reasons I chose science for my degree. Will be missed.