The IoT at Retail: A Look at the Store of the Future (Video)

A look at some of the ways retailers are using the IoT to supercharge the in-store experience. You can read a lot more about this topic in my books BRANDING UNBOUND and THE ON-DEMAND BRAND. Just saying.

Get the inside scoop, here.


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'Let's Be Evil' Trailer: Tech Gone Bad? (Video)


Another day, another dystopian vision for a future, this time from the POV of "Glassholes."

Get the inside scoop, here.


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2015 Mobile Marketing Predictions—from 2005: The Internet of Everything


Let's just say I was into the "Internet of Things" before it was much of "a thing" at all.

Never mind that a survey this year finds 87% of consumers say they've never heard the term. In my 2005 book BRANDING UNBOUND, I wrote extensively about the Internet of Things (or, IoT), and such coming innovations as "smart clothes" that would one day routinely monitor heart patients and alert doctors of impending heart attacks.

And intelligent homes, buildings and stores that will react to, and even predict, your every command—setting temperatures and lighting to your liking, and offering up goods and services based on your personal preferences.

Then there was the personalized content streamed direct to your car. Designer clothes that tell the washing machine, "don't wash me, I'm dry clean only." Medicines that warn users of dangerous interactions. Cars that get "upgrades" remotely via mobile software. And frozen dinners that tell the microwave oven how to cook them to perfection.

Nest, Tesla, Pandora, Proteus Digital Health's "smart pill," the Apple Watch and the Polo Tech Shirt notwithstanding, this world of pervasively interconnected services and solutions remains in its earliest stages. And yet, as far as the brand experience goes for these companies and others, it is beginning to create meaningful differentiation that is shaping consumer expectations with each new day.


When Tesla recently faced a recall nearly 30,000 Model S cars because of overheating issues with their wall chargers, the company was able to fix the issue by simply update the software in each care remotely, eliminating the problem without owners needing to go to their dealerships. What have other car brands have to compete with that?

While not quite proactively ordering new supplies, Amazon's Dash devices, WalMart's Hiku roll out this week, and Red Tomato Pizza's refrigerator magnets mean all you have to do is push a button or swipe an empty container to have laundry detergent, groceries (or piping hot Pepperoni Pizza) heading your way, without ever having to take out your mobile phone, activate an app and enter an order.

Netflix even recently released DIY instructions for building a push button that dims your lights, orders food, silences the phone and fires up Netflix queue.

Factor in product innovations—such as the Nike+ Running System (which runners found so compelling that the brand's already enviable share of the running shoe category skyrocketed from 48% to 61% in its first 36 months); Prada's continuing refinement of retail technologies (which identify what garments you pick up and instantly showcase runway video and accessories on the nearest store display); or new Johnnie Walker bottles that let you create personalized gifting experiences, and interact with brand promotions, using your mobile phone—and it's easy to see that brands that leverage IoT technologies stand to benefit mightily while those that don't may fall evermore behind.

At stake—a slice of a market expected to top $1.7 trillion dollars in value by 2020, according to IDC.

Yet even big winners will need to tread carefully.


Even back in 2005, I warned that interconnected everything means you can run, but never truly hide.

Or, as techno-anthropologist Howard Rheingold tells me in the book, "A world in which you are connected infinitely is a world in which you are surveilled infinitely."

Yes, online ads and street side billboards that call out to you on a first name basis, offering exactly what you're looking for—even before you realize you're looking for it—will have their place. Much of this will seem quite magical—at rightly so. But brands and media partners must be careful to resist the temptation to personalize pitches to the point of creeping consumers out.

Or putting them in danger.

One need not look beyond recent news reports on automobile software systems being hacked from afar to understand personal information is not the only thing put at potential risk in this interconnected world.

As I write in the book, as marketers (and as consumers), you and I will face decisions our predecessors could never imagine about what is acceptable—perhaps even moral—when anything and everything is possible.

As brands we exist to serve our customers and their needs, not the other way around.

Ultimately, that may mean recognizing that consumers should be able to control how "smart" they want their "smart products"—and advertising aimed at selling them those products—to be.

Perhaps they even need control over deciding which "Things" (and the associated data) that they want to be part of this "Internet of" —to better serve them, in the ways they want to be served—even if that sometimes means less, instead of more, of what we hope to sell to them. Even while making what we do sell them more profitable.

The brands that get this balance just right will not only attract consumers. They'll gain their loyalty and their trust.

Perhaps that's where the true power of the IoT is waiting to be found.






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5 Top Forms of Content Marketing: Author Rick Mathieson on the Jim Blasingame Show (Concl)


Games can be good for business—even (perhaps especially) when it comes to B2B marketing.

In the second half of my recent appearance on the Jim Blasingame Show, we continue our conversation on 5 of the top forms of content marketing. Not so much about channels—blogs, shared social media platforms, email, landing pages, websites and so on—rather, what kind of content makes for, or enhances, posts in those channels.

While Part One focused on video and touched on case studies, this second half addresses infographics, webcasts and branded games.

...Wait, branded games?


A content marketing report from Hubspot earlier this year finds 64% of B2B marketers rank webinars/webcasts as the most effective kind of marketing content, followed by video at 60%. Old-school case studies are close behind, at 58%. And posts and articles that contain infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than ones without.

Indeed, while specifics (and content categorizations) vary from survey to survey, the five we discuss are at the top end of most surveys in terms of both adoption and effectiveness.

So what content type is missing in most of these studies?

Games—which are used by just 1% to 12% of B2B marketers, and don't tend to show up in even the top 20 in terms of most effective content types.

But does that mean it doesn't work? Or that it's untapped opportunity?

For his part, Jim sounds as if he might be at least a little perturbed by the whole rise of gamification in our lives—and perhaps a little skeptical about its use in B2B marketing.

But as you'll hear me tell Jim, key research on gaming among white collar workers informed an engagement with one B2B client that resulted in a branded game that was played over 1 million times, resulted in 5,000 leads, and over $1 million in direct sales in its first six months (see case study video above).

Not only did the initiative earn coverage in a report on content marketing in The Wall Street Journal, but I include it in a chapter on branded games in my second book, THE ON-DEMAND BRAND.


As Jim wisely points out, this is not the kind content that you should necessarily deliver directly to just any B2B prospect or client.

Indeed, as I say here, it's better that your communications should point to a game, and let interested parties come to it.

It's also important to point out that Jim's show is targeted to SMBs, which, as we discuss, would impact the types of games that are truly feasible. Think knowledge games versus full, high-concept productions.

And while I touch on it in the interview, I want to add that in my view, whether it's B2C or B2B, and whether it's large brand or small, there are three key rules of the game, so to speak:

  • The best games are built around, and clearly communicate, your value proposition. They are not just games for the sake of games.
  • Branded games are best played with others—meaning they should have built-in incentives to make the games social and viral, creating a multiplier effect in communicating your value proposition.
  • They should always include a call to action to continue the conversation about your offerings. Before you even start developing a game, define what it is you want your audience to do, feel or think about your brand once they play it.

So is gaming and/or gamification right for your content marketing operations—B2B or otherwise?

You won't know until you try.

But make no mistake: B2B marketers at Microsoft, Dell-SonicWALL, IBM and other brands long ago discovered that they can turn fun and games into serious profits.

Why not play with the possibilities—and see how well you score?



 (Approx 5 min)



 (approx. 6:16)


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It’s the biggest buzzword in marketing today—but also the most over-hyped.

Indeed, for all the promise of “content marketing,” it’s not as easy as it seems. In a recent poll, a full 43% of B2B marketers, for instance, cite content marketing as an effective tactic for lead generation. But 43% also say it's also one of the most difficult.

It's also not always as effective as you might believe. According to eMarketer, developing the right content for the right audience is a major factor in why content marketing efforts fail to get desired results.

Indeed, despite today’s emphasis on all things digital, 84% of marketers develop old-school print brochures as #1 in their lead generation efforts.

Not that that's bad. Print does have a place as a delivery mechanism for some forms of content marketing—if anything, it's gained more cache in the digital age. But it's just one of many.


In this recent appearance on the The Jim Blasingame Show, I attempt to demystify content marketing.

Here in part one, I share five of the most effective types of content today, starting with the kind of video content consumers spend 6 billion hours per month viewing—and the kind up-and-coming-brands like Poo Pourri and BetaBrand (above) are using to break into the big time.

Some of the other top content forms will obvious to you, others maybe less so. Either way, any conversation with Jim means you’re going to have some fun along the way.

Of course, since Jim’s show is targeted to SMBs, our conversation is focused more on marketers who hope to gain traction in the marketplace without big-brand budgets.

But as you'll hear, whether it's big brand or small, one thing is clear: For all the time and money spent developing content to draw in prospects, a growing number of marketers are realizing they most overcome one cold, hard fact: Nobody anywhere is waiting around for your content.

This audio Q&A might help you find new ways to change that.



(approx. 6:16)


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GE Brings Good VR To Life as It Dives Deep Into (Oculus) Rift (Video)


Maybe it says something that I leveraged a tagline from a 30-year-old TV campaign in referencing GE.

Still (maybe the last) bastion of what passes for mass media these days, TV remains supreme. But i may no longer possess the power to embed a tagline deep within the Limbic system the way it did during GE's "Bring Good Things to Life" era.

Nonetheless,  GE, which has sported another tagline - "Imagination at Work" - for many years now, is finding digital fertile territory on which to tell a broader story about what it offers the world, offering opportunities TV never could.

Which is saying something. GE isn't exactly a consumer brand, after all. Beyond light bulbs and appliances, it is the driver behind next generation technologies for everything from jet engines to healthcare. And yet GE is scoring in social and mobile, with 4 million monthly followers across platforms ranging from YouTube to Instagram, and from Snapchat to Yo.

And as ADWEEK reports, it's now using another digital medium - virtual reality, or "VR" - to enable folks to take a deep dive into its technology for undersea oil exploration.

Visitors to its research center in Rio de Janeiro can strap on Oculus Rift headset and sit in a sensory-enabled chair and enjoy a simulated underwater experience.

"One of the challenges that we have is that we operate in locations and environments that not many people get to go to," Katrina Craigwell, GE's global manager of digital marketing, said in a keynote address at a  recent mobile marketing event, as cited by the pub. "With things like the visual content on Instagram, video and now virtual reality, we have been able to take people to these environments and bring them into the world of GE."

Neat for visitors. Neater still when these kinds of experiences become broader social experiences for folks far from her brands Rio research hub, through the power of tomorrow's technologies.

Some of them, perhaps, created using GE's own innovation. 

Read more here.



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Guest Post: SAP CMO Jonathan Becher - On Turbocharging Business Results Through Marketing Insights

Jonathan_becher2Jonathan Becher is one of the most tech savvy corporate CMOs today; one listen to my first conversation with him, and that much will be crystal clear.

And like me, he's a firm believer that distinction between B2B and B2C marketing are now non-existent – and that now more than ever, B2B marketers had better wake up that fact and start marketing to business audiences the way, say, Coca-Cola and others market to consumers.

In this GEN WOW guest post, Becher explores the power of marketing intel in achieving blockbuster business results.

Turbocharting Business Results through Marketing Insights

When apparel retailer Gap releases a new clothing design, marketing analysts look to a key customer segment as an early indicator of the product’s popularity: the people who work in its stores. “Our employees are also our target audience, so we know quickly by those first-day employee purchases if we have a hit on our hands,” said Seth Farbman, Gap’s global CMO. Based on those early results, marketing can rapidly adjust promotional campaigns or merchandising can change the mix of inventory in stores to accommodate anticipated demand. “The data is irrefutable because it’s real,” says Farbman.

The constant flow of information across a business has created an opportunity to increase the pace of decision making, to observe and react in the moment – just like humans do. Marketers are looking beyond examining historical data to predict the future. Instead, they are turbocharging the analysis of real-time data from a variety of sources, including social media and website activity, to deliver personalized in-the-moment engagement, promotions, and, ultimately, sales.

Capitalizing on insights is one of five key responsibilities that marketers must embrace to transform the marketing function into a strategic business driver. Here are four key foundational elements you will need to put in place to capture – and act on – insights in real time:

Plan for spontaneity. The foundation for Oreo’s seemingly spontaneous ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet during the blackout at this year’s Super Bowl was laid well in advance. Parent company Mondelez created 78 dashboards to capture social media conversations about the Super Bowl and the Mondelez brands that were advertising on the broadcast. Shortly after the power went out at the Superdome, analysts noticed the chatter on Twitter and Facebook had shifted to the blackout. Within minutes, Oreo’s digital agency had created a snappy post, which generated 15,000 retweets on Twitter and 5,500 shares on Facebook.

Accelerate your analytics. Real-time marketing requires real-time decision making, not just big data. Businesses are looking for ways to reduce the time between collecting the data and acting upon it. Procter & Gamble, for example, has invested in a “visually immersive” data environment, called Business Sphere, which delivers constant streams of business intelligence to employees around the globe. Ask yourself whether you’re focusing on warehousing your data or capitalizing on the insights it contains.

Curate content, not just collateral. Research from technology publisher IDG found that IT professionals typically consume five pieces of content, created by or on behalf of the vendor, before they speak with a sales representative. But those pieces of content can’t be the same; they must match the buyers’ needs at a given moment. For example, someone who posts a query on a community site about cloud technology will likely balk at an immediate sales pitch – but appreciate a link to a blog post that talks about overall trends and best practices. Early-stage content builds credibility – and possibly an opportunity to engage more directly down the road.

Know your customer before they are your customer. Customers have more choice than ever before, are better informed than ever before, and their opinions count more than ever before. Customers spend 50% of their time researching online and 70% of their decision making is complete before they speak to a sales person. If you are waiting for them to walk in your store or meet with a sales rep, you are too late. To make matters worse, 80% of customers have reversed a purchase decision based on a negative review. Imagine the impact a company can make on its bottom line if it understands the customer and start creating an experience for them earlier in the cycle.

Are you still marketing based on last month’s reports or are you ready for real-time? I look forward to your comments. 

Join Jonathan and other senior agency- and client-side marketers to talk about this topic and more at our new GEN WOW LINKEDIN GROUP.


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Digital & The New Consumer (Infographic)

HWW Digital and the New Consumer_InfographicThis is an interesting new infographic from Havas Worldwide; which kind of digital shopper are you? What about your customers?



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Digital Marketing: 5 Top New Year's Resolutions


It's 2013: Do you know what your digital marketing's up to?

Here are five quick resolutions for the new year. Like lots of behaviors, these are practices we know we should keep - like eat less, move more - but rarely do. All of us are guilty of bypassing these common sense rules from time to time.

So if we do just five things this year, let's resolve to:

5. Not Ask How - Ask Why

I said this in a recent post on social media trends for 2013. But it's really true of anything we do. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times at agencies and client-side brands throughout the land: Let's do "X" - insert your digital buzz word du jour here - not because "X" is central to a brand's objectives, but because it's considered cool. But saying "we need a mobile/social/viral strategy is akin to saying "we need a brochure strategy," or a radio strategy, or a signage strategy. These are channels & platforms, not strategies. First figure out what you have to accomplish, then decide which approaches and channels will get you there. It's so simple, yet we all get caught up in coolness from time to time.

4. Know thy customer - and thy channels

On that note, as I write in my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, insight comes before inspiration. Today's most successful digital marekting initiatives typically don't come from a great idea for some hip new experience, or a me-too approach to major trends. Instead, they start with consumer insights culled from painstaking research into who your customers are, what they're all about, how they interact with consumer technologies, and what they want from the brands they know and trust. Just look at the work Unilever's done over the last few years with the Dove brand's "Campaign for Real Beauty" and all its crazy ass work for Axe - including everything from QR code peep holes in bathroom bars to faux "Shower Together" PSAs. These marketers have a firm read on their customers and the channels with which to reach them. In 2013, look for social + mobile + local to be a key to accomplishing this.

3. Always commit multi-plat-fornication

Innovate through as many channels and platforms that make sense for your strategies and audience. It's what MTV calls "multi-plat-fornication." As I show in the book, MINI USA has made an art form of this, using insights on its "fun-tech" loving audience and how they congregate online to use numerous approaches - branded games, especially, but also things like RFID-based key fobs that enable roadside billboards to call out to passing drivers by name - to actually enlist customers to market the cars for them. And Coca-Cola has raised the bar over the last year, with everything from branded iPhone apps to the Polar Bears' social stunt at the Super Bowl to its Kinect-Powered Vending Machine, to a magazine-ad-turned-mobile-stereo-speakers and much, much more. Small wonder the brand has been named "Creative Marketer of the Year" for the 2013 Cannes International Advertising Festival. 

2. Honor traditional as the sizzle to digital's steak

It's heresy these days to point out the obvious. In a fragmented media universe, the channels that still attract any semblance of "mass" are more powerful than ever - with TV being exhibit A. For all our gadgets, we're watching more TV, not less. And whether it's "Walking Dead" or "Dancing with The Stars," TV has communal power like nothing else. As a result, many of today's most innovative integrated campaigns use traditional advertising - old school TV, print, radio, etc - to build awareness and then point consumers to deeper, richer, more meaningful experiences online, or via mobile and other digital platforms. Again, Coca-Cola's Polar Bear stunt at the Super Bowl immediately comes to mind, attracting over 9 million consumers who spent an average of 28 minutes with the brand. And Doritos has effectively done all this in reverse every year, with its Crash The Super Bowl user-generated ad contest - with the chance to work with director Michael Bay at this year's bowl.

1. Never put "buzz" before "business"

Obviously digital marketing is about endless and innovative experimentation. If it were as easy as creating any old viral video, branded game, or mobile app to generate enough buzz to bring in business for our brands, we'd all be rich. For many lifestyle brands, this kind of experimentation is enough - especially in categories where an aura of hipness is a prerequisite for sales success. But while there is obviously a lot of fun and games in all this fun and games, it's important - critical - that we approach digital initiatives with specific objectives in mind (see resolution #5).

As Harley-Davidson's global CMO Mark-Hans Richer puts it to Ad Age, "This is a new gold age for marketers. The shackles are off, and the possibilities are nearly endless. If we aren't conducting radical experiments, trying new ways to engage our targets and adding value to them, then we're not doing our jobs."

But, he adds, "It's not about chasing the buzz; it's about chasing the biz." Marketers who get this formula right - by fueling innovation through substantive consumer insights - weill thrive in the on-demand era.

Those who don't will have to settle for some fun - but ultimately fruitless - experiments.

Here's to a blockbuster 2013 for us all.

Q&A: Jeff Hasen, Author of 'Mobilized Marketing' (Pt 2)

Jeff HasenIn part two of my interview with Jeff Hasen, author of the new book MOBILIZED MARKETING: Driving Sales, Engagement, and Loyalty Through Mobile Devices, we dive into the latest trends and statistics in mobile marketing.

Along the way, Hasen will start helping us cut through the hype and misconceptions that are holding many marketers back from taking full advantage of the mobile revolution.

Listen to what he has to say here, and then check out the book here.



(3 min, 12 sec)

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 OD_cover "... EXCELLENT ..."


“Through persuasive arguments and Q&A's with the major players in advertising, Mathieson makes an excellent case for greater creativity and outside-the-box thinking backed up with solid ideas."

Publisher's Weekly