3 Interesting and Original Opportunities for Marketers

One of the many hats that I wear is being a partner of a representation firm; that means we pick technologies and services that we think are innovative and cool, and we have our sales and marketing teams help them thrive. We limit our involvement to just those we have vetted and tested - currently that is Edison Interactive, Userfarm and Fresh Trading Desk. Contact me using the form on this site if you want to learn more.

1. Edison Interactive

Edison have 20,000 interactive screens in the back of taxis, Ubers and Lyfts around the world. When I worked in media at iCrossing, Chango and Rubicon Project, I always told my clients not to advertise on such screens because they were low quality, rarely ever worked, and just gave an overall negative impression.

Edison have designed new high definition screens that are interactive and have wifi hotspots built in, as well as USB ports for charging devices. Customer feedback has been so good that the brands who have signed up are having a positive experience.

They have picked Denver for the first batch of 500 new screens, with the remaining to be installed over the coming 9-12 months. We have a mix of local advertisers, as well as national brands who want to test here before following us for the national rollout.

We charge a lot like digital - load up an account, and then take a payment only when an ad is shown to a real person, validated with a camera in the screen.

2. Userfarm (http://userfarm.com)

Super excited about this one! Userfarm have created a way for brands to get high quality video from crowd-sourced competitions. The videos are ideal for social and online, but many have also been used for TV ads too. 

They are huge in Europe, and are starting to make a splash here in the US and Canada. You use them if you need high quality, fully produced, original videos for almost any purpose. We have found that buyers are brands direct and agencies.

I was a little skeptical, but was convinced when I watched a series of videos produced for Knorr cooking sauces. I was sat with the founder of Userfarm in Miami a few weeks ago with a tear in my eye watching a grandma and grandson cooking together! And it was a vertical video! Many brands like a mix of horizontal and vertical now given the consumer's growing preference for video.

Contact me to get a demo or a meeting, or just to learn more.

3. FRESH Trading Desk (FRESHTradingDesk.com)

Last but not least, I am a partner in FRESH. We have access to most buying platforms for digital media, especially a lot of video inventory, and we offer no fuss, transparent media buys to suit most needs.

We are ideal for budget holders with a one-off campaign, or for those that know what they need and know that doesn't require someone sneaking a 40% markup. No brainer.

Get in touch with your campaign needs.

Why YOU Need to Know (and Care) About Net Neutrality

Net neutrality isn't sexy, but like basic services you rely on daily, such as water, gas and electricity, you are going to care deeply if it gets interfered with. For an entertaining overview of the problem, John Oliver has you covered:

The essence of net neutrality is that all data flowing through the Internet is treated equally. (For newbies, "data" could be anything - searches, web pages, videos, Facebook, cat videos, emails, Skype calls, and so on). The net being neutral means that whatever you are doing online, and with whosever services you choose to do it with, you will be able to do that when you want, how you want and in an equal way to other people who might have chosen another branded service to do the same thing.

If net neutrality were to go away, your internet experience would no longer be under your control. If you chose one supplier over another, your experience would be different.

If this was water, your tap would fill up glasses not bought from your own water provider slower than the glasses you might already have. If this was electricity, the devices in your home made by one company that was sponsoring your electricity supplier would work better than those devices made by a company that wasn't paying your provider. 

With the Internet, the equivalent to your water or electricity provider is your ISP (Internet Service Provider) - this could be your home broadband connection or your mobile / cellular service provider for your mobile phone. These ISPs have the technical capability to speed up or slow down any content that they choose to.

To date there have been very limited cases of this happening, and regulations have been put in place to prevent it from happening in the future.

"Great!" you say. "It's Sunday evening Dax" you say. "We are good right?"

Neutrality is under threat in the USA from a reversal of protective regulation. And at this point, if you haven't already, watch the John Oliver video above, and then watch this update from him below.

Crossing The Swaziland Border, With My Ex In The Trunk?

After my previous adventure in South Africa with the kids (Three Little Ladies and a Lion), next up was a mission to add another country to their list of places visited. South Africa actually borders four countries, but Namibia was too far away, they had already been to Botswana (I Once Met a Witch in Botswana), and Zimbabwe and Mozambique were just too dangerous.

Thankfully for us, landlocked within South Africa are two other easily accessible countries, The Kingdom of Lesotho and the Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland).

Lesotho: Previously known as Basutoland, Lesotho declared independence from the United Kingdom on 4 October 1966. The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. About 40% of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. (wikipedia)

Swaziland: At no more than 200 kilometres (120 mi) north to south and 130 kilometres (81 mi) east to west, Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Despite its size, its climate and topography are diverse, ranging from a cool and mountainous highveld to a hot and dry lowveld. The population is primarily ethnic Swazis whose language is Swati. They established their kingdom in the mid-18th century under the leadership of Ngwane III; the present boundaries were drawn up in 1881. After the Anglo-Boer War, Swaziland was a British protectorate from 1903 until 1967. It regained its independence on 6 September 1968. (wikipedia)

Swaziland seemed ideal, and so off the girls and I set.

During the drive I was trying to teach the little ones the difference between counties, countries and continents. South Africa can be a confusing name in that regard as it sounds like it is a descriptor of southern Africa, a common mistake many adults have made when I talk about going there... ahem.

After much rehashing and not a great deal of certainty that they had grasped it yet, we pulled up to a fence that declared itself as the South African border, and a sign that said the Swazi border was 50 meters in front.

"Dad. If we are on the continent of Africa, and have now left South Africa but haven't yet got to Swaziland, what country are we in?" Much giggling told me that the little smart asses had indeed fully understood and were now throwing it right back at me :). I should never have doubted them.

The process of this particular crossing is very African. We pulled up to the near end of the building and I took our passports inside to the South African border police, they stamped us as exiting, and we got back in the car. We drove to the other end of the same building, got back out and took out passports into what was now the Swazi immigration section.

"How many are you?" / Hi. Four.

"Where is the girl's mother?" / Back in Pretoria, it's just me and the girls.

"You have a maid with you?" / Nope, just me and the girls.

"But. But where is the woman with you to look after the kids?" / Er. There isn't one.

"Oh!" / (I had hope at this point)

"Oh. There is a woman waiting for you in Swaziland to look after the kids" / ........!

Thinking I had worked through this misunderstanding, and come to the realization that crossing this border also meant going back to 1950, we dealt with the formalities of immigration forms and such. This is Africa though, and they would like a little something to make this worth their time - at this border that involves purchasing 4 clear plastic passport covers for about USD$3 a piece, (pay it and don't complain, it's a lot of money for them, and nothing for you). She stamps our passports, scribbles something on a piece of paper, tears it off her pad and off we go.

Back in the car, load up the kids, drive a whole ten yards more, and get back out for customs inspection.

"Where is your customs form?" / A little panicked, "I don't have one"

The guard leans into the car window, grabs the scrap of paper the lady had given me, and for the first time, noticed it simply said "4? Woman?".

Ah.

"Open the boot" (trunk to you Americans). / Of course officer, what are you looking for?

"The girls' mother"

Yup, it was more believable to them that their mum was stuffed into my boot than a man could be traveling with kids on his own. Much to his surprise, and some confusion from my youngest who at this point got quite excited and thought mum had come along with us after all, the boot was indeed laden with just suitcases.

When we arrived at the hotel an hour or so later, (with giraffe in the name again of course), we met some of the most friendly and welcoming people I have ever come across, a common feeling we had in their country. The women who worked at the hotel were incredibly helpful, but were also confused about the lack of a female in our party.

On the first night they came over after they finished work to offer to bathe the children for me. I politely declined, and thought I had the whole thing cleared up once and for all, so when they came back in a larger party the next night I was somewhat annoyed. Turns out they had believed me about handling the simple task of bedtime, but they wanted to bring their friends over to watch a man do it!

Three Little Ladies And A Lion

I had taken the girls to a little game reserve in South Africa that sat along the edge of Crocodile River, which runs for part of its route through the Kruger National Park. If you have seen wildlife documentaries or Disney movies, think back to the scene where all the animals come together at the same time to drink from the same water source - that was what greeted us there. Elephants, giraffe, cranes, crocodiles, springbok.... and as it turned out, a lion.

Felicity, Bailey and Rebecca by Crocodile River, South Africa

Felicity, Bailey and Rebecca by Crocodile River, South Africa

In 2008 my kids spent a year in the South African school system. Their mum was born there, and so it was great for them to be exposed to that part of their lives so early. It was a long commute from San Francisco to visit them, but it afforded us life changing experiences.

I had made them a promise. When we went on a trip I would dram a circle on a map around their home in Pretoria, and wherever they put their finger, we would go to there, and upon arrival, they could choose where we stayed. We probably stayed in more places with the word "giraffe" in their name than any other humans!

On this occasion they landed right on the border to Mozambique, so with a little nudging away from danger, we decided that they had actually picked a small patch of nothingness nearby. Five hours later we were there.

The problem was that "there" really was nowhere. There was a dirt road that my compact rental didn't like very much, and no other signs of life. We of course took it, turning around and reversing to the armed guards on the large gates that had popped up on the horizon. My logic was that I could get away quicker if this turned bad....

After the guards had stopped laughing at my maneuver, they explained it was a community of holiday properties and I was welcome to come in and see if any were available, but suggested I did so driving forwards. A little two story wood hut was acquired for our stay, and we went to look around.

Crocodile River is just extraordinary. Unlike safari drives that can involve lots of hours of driving for not much reward, or faked setups of animals herded towards you, this was Africa as it should be. We further benefitted from The Kruger cutting off access to the river from their park for a year because it was being over-visited, and so we were in the only spot for 5 miles where it could be seen. And the animals came en masse.

The girls stood with their little faces pressed against the shockingly flimsy chainlink fence and called out the animals as they saw them. I stood behind them taking pictures and giving myself some serious dad points! This was Africa at sunset with every animal you could hope to see.

When it happened, I thought it was an earthquake.

My entire soul started shaking like someone had just turned up the bass to 11 in a nightclub. Instinctively the hairs on my body stood upright, although I have no idea what help that was going to be. I looked down at the girls. Rebecca and Bailey were frozen to the spot, a look of horror on their faces, Felicity was giggling and pointing.

And then the first wave passed as nonchalantly as it had started.

Following the finger of this little 3 year old, I saw grasses and trees but nothing else to give away what had just happened. The animals across the river did though, and all began to move away to what they determined to be a safer spot. Even the elephants kept a watchful eye in our direction. Huge elephants!

And as this intrusion began again, I saw it; the mane of a fully grown lion vibrating in time with its roar, about 20 feet away from us, sticking up from the brush. I am sure if it had been hungry I wouldn't have heard it the second time, or perhaps even the first, but thankfully it seemed to be telling us to move along rather than announcing it was dinner time. I must have scooped up the kids at that point and thrown them into the back of the car, myself piling in on top of them, although I have no real memory of that moment. I don't know how long we stayed like that for, but it was relief-laughter that eventually broke the silence. We locked the doors, cracked the windows and sat there for the last of the daylight watching this King have complete command over his entire kingdom, grateful for his tolerance of our intrusion.

I Once Met a Witch in Botswana

In '98 and '99 I was staying on and off in South Africa, at first just traveling around with my girlfriend, and then for a while working in an Irish pub in Johannesburg. My in-laws time lived near Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana, where he would build roads and stadiums for the government using foreign aid money.

Botswana is a fascinating place. It only has a population of 2 million, yet an area just under 225,000 square miles (compared to the USA for instance at 325m people over 3.8m square miles), making it one of the most sparsely populated places in the world. It is also crazy flat, with really nothing that resembles a hill in the southern 90% of its lands. Most tourists would typically just visit the swamps in the very north for their wildlife, but perhaps 18 years on the capital might be a draw too. The main road leading from one of the border crossings to the city had a tree slap bang in the middle of it, which the blacktop and the lines dutifully diverted around, but in their pitch black nights, several drivers did not.

Education was important to the nation, but was 'rationed'. You studied hard and kept passing school years, and you could progress, all the way to a full scholarship to study anything you wanted, anywhere in the world, as long as you brought those skills back with you for a while. If you failed a year at school, you were done, and a big book would tell you what jobs were available to you; (and they would force rules on foreign companies to aid with creating demand for the jobs in the book, such as any meeting with an official must be arrived at in a vehicle that was chauffeur-driven by a local).

It's a system that would be hard to implement in a more modernized country, but there was a widespread sense of peace and satisfaction among the population; a feeling that everyone had a place, and was contributing in their own way.

Crime was not tolerated. The story of a South African woman who was tried for murder goes that she had killed her husband, having driven to South Africa and back to acquire a gun. The driving time was seen as plentiful to calm herself before the act, and so was found guilty on a Friday of premeditated murder. Her distraught father went to the jail to visit her, and was told they were closed over the weekends, and he must return on Monday. He did so, to find they had hanged her the day before! It sounds hard, it was, but at the time, it certainly keep the crime rate low, and I felt safer there than I ever have done in South Africa.

In the house next door to my in-laws lived a local Motswana lady (as an individual from Botswana is called), and if I remember correctly, her sons. I can't say I knew her, but I did meet her once, and was on nodding terms, as us Brits would say, for the rest of my visit. My in-laws rented their house from her, and so knew her better.

Some time later we went back for another visit, this time after the rainy season had begun. The first surprise was that the car we had left there now had a front wheel entirely encased in a termite mound, and was set like concrete, all the rubber dutifully eaten away.

The second surprise was that the lady next door was now dead.

Some of the locals in the village had turned against her. When the rains came in, the dry river beds flooded, as they do, and the new little bridge by her house had washed away. They blamed her, citing she was a witch that transformed herself into a water serpent, and had taken it upon herself to destroy the bridge; motivations unknown. Additionally, infidelity had occurred in the village, which in a country so badly ravaged by HIV, was a particularly serious problem, and so she was further accused of using her witching powers to lure men to her, as a prostitute.

When I was in high school and we covered the witch trials I remember they used to burn them, or even drown them in water, for their punishment. In Botswana in 1998, they baked her a cake laced with poison, took it round to her as a gift... and that was that.

I never did have the chance to return to that village, but my guess is that the rains keep coming and washing away the little bridges, but that the men might just be a little more afraid to stray from their wives.

An Update on The Online Safety Group - will you help?

A few months ago I created a parenting resource called the Online Safety Group. As the father of 4 daughters, and as an ad tech veteran, I was particularly concerned with their online privacy, how they would be tracked, and how easy it is to be lured into the darker side of the web.

Additionally, I had watched this TED Talk by Cindy Gallop, entitled "Make Love, Not Porn", and became educated about the psychological impact things like prolific access to porn (made significantly easier because of the internet) can have on our youth. In short, the message is, when our kids are first having sex, they will have been exposed to a lot more pornography than we might suspect, and their expectations of what real sex actually is like, will be alarmingly warped.

Since then, OSG has grown quite nicely. It's not a major destination for parents yet, but those that do visit tend to share what they read and come back for more. I also commissioned a book to be written by Dr. Lilla Dale McManis, an impressive woman with many years experience as a professional child psychologist, and a number of additional guides by various experts.

I have recently made all of these free, and so there is no excuse for any parent out there to not take a few moments to get educated about keeping their kids safe online. You can download the book and the free guides directly from this URL.

How You Can Help

  1. Easiest of all, pick an article and share it on facebook and the like. The more parents that understand, the more kids will benefit.
  2. Consider it as part of a teaching aid, or distribute through school groups.
  3. Write a guest post - we have authors that write about their personal experiences, as well as technical experts that give great ideas.
  4. There is a sister site that I haven't had time for - AreTheyOldEnough.com - which helps parents understand what movies and TV shows their kids should watch, or what Apps or games they should play. If you are technical, I have an idea about how this should be rebuilt so that new games and shows are always present, and it becomes a more valuable resource.

Apple Made Their Shuffle Feature Less Random, to Make It More Random

Expectation is a funny thing; we have expectations about how things will change, even if there is no data to suggest it will. We expect the next hand to be a winner after a strong of losses, we expect the roulette table to deliver a black number after a long run of reds and we expect the dice to finally give us a six after a long run of ones and twos. Yet in reality, dice will give a six one in 6 times and a roulette table, a black number one in two (ignoring 0 and 00 for simplicity).

It seems users of iTunes have been having a similar problem with expectation. 

If you imagine the list of tracks you have in iTunes, when you play them randomly, they should play in a different order every time. And like the runs of ones and twos in dice, some tracks should come up more frequently than others, perhaps even 3 or 4 times in a row.

When that used to happen, users complained that iTunes was broken - randomness shouldn't behave so oddly. So randomly.

And so at some point a change was made so that when you now press shuffle, the list of tracks is reorganized into a new list to played one by one. That prevents the same track coming up repeatedly. It is less random, but it feels more random to users.

Unfortunately there is a problem with this. iTunes will recreate this list every time it has been played in its entirety. If you have a lot of music, it's unlikely you will get to the end, and so every time you revisit your list, it will still be in the same shuffled order. If you want to recreate 'randomness' each time, turn shuffle off and on again each time you start listening.

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.

Explaining 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.

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.)

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

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/

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.


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 :)

It's Too Late To Complain 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?

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.

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.