The 4Ps Give Way to Human Pixeling

In 1998, I moved into the Internet space.

I had been working at Ammirati Puris Lintas, an advertising agency no longer in business today. We had a great shop with stellar accounts (and beautiful offices). I spent time on the Bacardi business and then moved over to the Compaq computer account. It’s funny to think about it now, but Compaq was a large and important brand back then.  Their business was hyper relevant to the computer industry; the computer industry was vital to the stock market and the overall growth of our economy.

There was a role open in our digital group. These were early days - not the earliest days, but definitely early ones. I had been planning print media for the most part, but my tenure on a computer account made me “tech savvy” and thus desirable for the position. I made the move.

About 3 days into my new role, there was a phone call to my mother explaining what I was up to. I remember feeling crystal clear about the difference in my job from just a week earlier. My description was along these lines: “last week, I was in advertising; this week, I’m handling the 4 Ps of Marketing.”

Being a few years out of school, the 4 Ps - promotion, price, place & product - were still fresh in my mind. It was geeky and bookish, but it was the best articulation I could find. A print ad was clearly about promotion (awareness, impressions). An interactive ad unit was something totally different. It was measurable (implications for price). It was clickable (drove directly to a place). It could provide a service (extension of product).

Of course back in those days, we were limited by the constraints of bandwidth, infrastructure, data, critical mass and even what we knew.  We didn’t know that much. But, we knew we had something golden on our hands: a true interactive medium where the very definition of marketing changed based on how much it expanded our horizons and connection points.

Thirteen years later, our industry has greatly matured. Technology has proliferated and driven huge opportunity. Among that opportunity is what many in the industry describe as the next big thing: SoMoLo (the intersection of social, mobile and local). At Digitas, my colleagues and I have taken to calling that thing “Human Pixeling.”

When people are addressable wherever they are, that’s human pixeling. Since so many of us have smart phones in our hands (or nightstands) 24 hours a day we are, in essence: walking, talking, friending, purchasing ad tags. Our actions speak volumes about who we are and what we do. Our physical locations can be combined with our credit card statements, our music library and our browsing history enabling marketers to offer us something of value and relevance.

Where once we read a magazine and saw an ad for a product based on the edit on the opposite page (if the media planner was good), we can now be ping’d on our mobile devices as we pass by a store with an offer tied to the perishability of the products inside and based on the web pages we browsed just this morning.

This is an exciting time. We’re witnessing and participating in the true fulfillment of the 4 Ps.

The Black Friday Survival Guide: 5 Key Tips To Keep Your Local Business Front‐And‐Center With Holiday Shoppers

By Alicia Fiorletta, Senior Editor

Using key shopping dates as the cornerstones of your 2014 holiday marketing strategies is a smart way to get started. Black Friday is considered the official kick-off of the holiday season, making it an important shopping day for consumers and a tremendous sales opportunity for retailers of all sizes. Last year, shoppers spent up to $22.2 billion during “Black Weekend” alone, according to ShopperTrak.

There are only 28 days from Black Friday and Christmas Day this year, but you still have time to grab holiday shoppers’ attention by incorporating a variety of channels in your marketing mix, including social, mobile, online and TV advertising.

Here are a few ideas to get you into the holiday spirit:

  • Establish your messaging: Determine your Black Friday plan, and launch a relevant campaign. Are you holding a weekend-long sale you want to promote? Will you throw a festive party in your store to kick off the holidays? Do you plan to extend store hours or offer free shipping or gift-wrapping? Create consistent marketing messages to spread the news among target customers.

  • Connect with consumers on screen: There’s no doubt that today’s consumers are tech-savvy and are typically checking multiple devices throughout the day, but television still plays a central role in their daily lives. The average American, in fact, watches more than five hours of television a day, according to Nielsen. Embrace TV advertising to promote timely sales, offers and events to successfully engage customers on their favorite screens. The holidays are an ideal time to get creative, so have fun. Use whimsical messaging and visuals, and craft compelling offers and incentives that get shoppers in the holiday spirit and drive them to your store.

  • Extend offers to mobile devices: The TV may still be consumers’ favorite screen, but more consumers rely on their smartphones to access information and even purchase products. By 2016, approximately 2.29 billion people will own smartphones, up from 1.40 billion in 2013, according to eMarketer. What better way to connect quickly and personally with shoppers than through their personal devices? Keep your messages short, simple, and yes, fun. Take a cue from flash sale site Rue La La, which sends mobile push notifications to people who download the app. A recent message promoting a shoe sale simply stated: “Holyyy shoes! (Yeah, we said it.)”  

  • Continue the conversation with social media: Consumers refer to Facebook, Pinterest and other social networks during the holidays to research gift ideas (48%), find discounts (44%), read reviews and recommendations (40%) and browse products (37%), according to Deloitte research. As a result, social media is becoming a key outlet for retailers to build one-to-one relationships with customers. Although it’s important to promote events, offers and deals on social networks, don’t get too carried away. If customers feel like they’re being marketed to too much, they’ll turn away. Instead, engage with customers on a more personal level by asking questions and participating in conversations. Last year, Target used the Twitter hashtag #MyKindOfHoliday to encourage shoppers to share their favorite holiday traditions.

  • Encourage customers to connect with you on different outlets: Whether a consumer first interacts with your brand on social media or through their mobile devices, it is important that you encourage them to continue. A compelling call-to-action gives them an extra incentive to either learn more about your business or visit your store. For example, you can post a photo of a store display on Facebook or Instagram with the message “Check out our must-have gifts!” It’s simple, concise and gives consumers a clear next step in their shopping journey.



Can the e-paper watch that really tells you what time it is also be the world’s most personal ad space yet?

Yes, it’s the darling of crowdfunding, having snagged a total of $10.27 million from 68,929 individual investors on Kickstarter, making it the most crowdfunded start-up ever in dollar terms. But could Pebble also be the very best vehicle yet to fulfill all the promises of SoMoLo marketing?

Pebble’s Silicon Valley creators have launched it with basic functionalities that already address the SoMoLo realm (FB & Twitter notifications, weather alerts, etc). And, big sidenote, they’ve very presciently allowed for customization, even customization via coding for the truly geek-ish:

“Want your watch to tell you when your next bus is leaving? Maybe you’re jonesing to see your compile status or recent github commits.. Think push notifications, directly to your watch using the data connection on your phone. Want to check-in on your watch, or create an app that can monitor your sleep? Pebble can send data from the accelerometer and buttons back up to the internet.

Pebble can receive simple alerts and notifications from if this then that ( or our web-facing RESTful endpoint. More adventurous developers can use the Pebble SDK, with its Arduino-like abstractions and simple C structure, to gain full control of the watch. Multiple apps can run on Pebble, along side watchfaces and regular notifications.”

But back to the point of this posting, since the Pebble gets all its info from the smartphone it’s linked to, GPS capabilities should allow marketers to do everything from rewarding a patron on the spot for posting a positive review on Yelp, to awarding extra loyalty points to shoppers who visit brick and mortar stores during slow periods to recognizing wearers for achieving fitness goals as they happen to sending up-to-the-microsecond snow conditions/alerts on ski trails (then give boarders a coupon for a free beer at the end of their run when trails have turned slushy).  Yes, many of these CRM activities can be achieved via smartphone alone, but the physical proximity of the Pebble on the wrist is as close as it gets to personalized “sudden” marketing.

The “mobile-social-local” craze has been around in the tech world for several years now, but the idea for this site came from a joking conversation about building a fight club app app for arranging fights with nearby people on you lunch break. 

The generator contains 10,000 ideas for your next startup. It’s a simple concept and not too hard to build but for an extra challenge I hosted it on AWS, which was a first for me.

Please don’t take it too seriously.


Highlight App "gives you a sixth sense about the world around you" by notifying users to the nearby presence of others with similar connections and interests. After users connect their Facebook profiles, it pushes their basic information to other people who use the app. The app only makes the connection if the two parties have something in common.

This stole the show at SxSWi and firmly rooted the idea of SoMoLo (social, mobile, local). According to it’s Founder James Davidson, “It’s a number of things coming together, smartphones are everywhere, Facebook is ubiquitous, all this data is in the cloud and it’s all highly recognizable, the ability to run mobile apps in the background is fairly new, push notifications, battery life is just now barely good enough and it’s only getting better.”

With the rise of smartphones, the behaviour of LBS will become more relevant. Apps like Highlight seem like an obvious progression for social mobile. In the same way Facebook taps into our human voyeuristic urges, SoMo apps tweak your curiosity to engage with new people around you wouldn’t otherwise meet. It’s useful. It’s an antidote to Internet bedroom culture. Now, go out and actually meet people for real, that you have loads in common with. Remember, there are is only 3.74 degrees of separation in the world (according to Facebook)

Winning Customer Loyalty In A SoMoLo World

At Retail TouchPoints, we’re constantly covering how shoppers today are more connected, empowered and savvy than ever before. As a result, many retailers are finding that their target customers are focusing more on finding the best deal, rather than the best experience. 

But is that really the case? Are shoppers incapable of being loyal anymore?

Loyalty programs still are a tried and true method to drive incremental sales and keep customers engaged. However, as shoppers continue to turn to the web, social media and their mobile devices, they’re looking for retailers to shake things up a bit.

Check out our two-part Customer Loyalty Report, which spotlights emerging trends, best-in-class retailers and cutting-edge strategies to help win customer loyalty in 2013 and beyond. Topics include: mobile, social, localization, personalization and gamification.

Are you embracing any of these trends? Tell us in the comments section or connect with us through social media!


Things I've Learned About Consumer Behavior (from 2011 Archives)

I wrote the post below on January 11, 2011. That’s 4.5 years ago, a lifetime in the consumer app universe. To put this into perspective, you have to remember that Instagram had just been released and Foursquare was the hottest app being written about on TechCrunch.

Gamification! Location! SoMoLo! iPhone! Internets!

Facebook didn’t think that mobile was worth investing in and everyone thought that using a crapy javascript compiler rather than writing native Objective-C code was worth it, because you could deploy an Android app at the same time.

Everyone except for me. It was very easy to predict why it was so, so wrong. It created a shit experience for users. And users were only using their mobile phones to interact with the “internet”. So there you go.

As Mike Jones put it, “Back then they didn’t want me, now I’m hot they all on me.” Okay, he wasn’t talking about mobile focused companies, but I still find it laughable that “mobile” is a strategy. That’s like saying being on the internet is a strategy. Or doing marketing is a strategy. Or selling a product is a strategy. It’s so basic. It’s a dial tone of business.

I thought I’d write down a few operating principles I’ve come up with over the years, before my alzheimers kicks in.  Hopefully, I can continue to add to and refine this list over the years.  You’ll likely not agree with all of these, but it represents a summary of my experiences, my formal education, anecdotal evidence, and a bit of hocus pocus I’ve seen work.  Let’s dig right in, shall we?

1.  Lazy, Stupid & Egocentric
It’s sad, but true.  Facebook hit the ball out of the park with all three, and they now have 500 million users.  The population of the USA is only 300 million.  That’s almost twice the size of every man, woman, and child on the planet.  Seems like they’re doing something right.
  • Profile pages, comments, and likes make you feel like a celebrity (i.e., egocentric)
  • The interface and concept is extremely easy to use and explain, upload pics and connect with friends (i.e., Keep It Simple, Stupid)
  • We love reality television, hate reading books, and would rather scroll through the Facebook feed 50 times per day than work, sleep, or learn (i.e., lazy)
The difference with Twitter is they didn’t get the “stupid” part right.  The uninitiated user just doesn’t “get it”.

2.  Unexpected Gift at an Unexpected Time
Foursquare started this trend with unlocking badges.  You don’t know when, how, or if you’re going to unlock another badge, but you just keep checking in with them so you don’t miss another one.  It’s less than two years old and already has 5 million users, even with the huge privacy concerns your parents are likely warning you about (i.e., sharing your location).

3.  I Want to be Creative
Instagram executed this principle wonderfully.  You upload some crappy picture you took to the iPhone app, click a visual filter, and blammo, you look like a ridiculously awesome Photoshop expert or premiere photographer.  The other thing they did right was put a “download” button on any picture shared through the internet (twitter, facebook, etc).  These are the ONLY two reasons the company is blowing up so quickly.  They got the lazy, stupid, and egocentric part right too (i.e., I’m perceived as creative).

4.  I Need A Real Answer To a Real Question
Quora is your friendly, neighborhood superhero in this case.  Google helps you find content on the internet, but it doesn’t nor will it ever be able to answer granular questions better than a human.  I’ve been on Quora since they were in beta, and they’ll never explode like they could unless they figure out the “Lazy” principle.  I never use it because finding content is hard, there’s no iPhone app, and I have to read pages and pages of answers to get one I really need.  Short and sweet wins the race, folks.

5.  I Love a Big Discount
You didn’t think I’d leave out Groupon did you?  They’re hiring 400 people a month and are approaching $1 billion in annual revenue after only 2 years.  They’re the fastest growing company of all time.  Let me say that again so it sinks in.  In the entire history of trade and commerce, there has never been another business that’s grown more rapidly than Groupon.  Why?  Two reasons.  As a consumer, I love a sale.  As a business, I need ROI for my marketing dollars.  Groupon was the middle man, and used technology to do it.  Incidentally, this is the exact same business model Eric Lefkofski and Brad Keywell (co-founders and initial investors in Groupon) have used successfully in multiple other billion-dollar businesses.

6.  I Want Privacy Unless I Get A Benefit
I’m actually taking a class at the University of Chicago Booth business school with Eric and Brad.  They asked a question during class to about 80 intelligent, technologically advanced, internet entrepreneurs.  The question was about Blippy, the startup that lets you connect your credit card account and share all your transactions with friends.  Why would anyone do this, you ask?  Well, that’s exactly what Eric and Brad asked us.  Only a few people would actually use it, but when asked if using Blippy would provide you with discounts on the things you buy all the time (e.g., target, wal-mart, restaurants), then every hand in the class went up saying we’d use the service.
So, while most people would never say they’d give out their financial information, well they’ve never seen the millions of people using or never received a BIG discount on something they buy all the time by using the service.  So, I want privacy unless I get a benefit from it.

7.  I Want to Take Online, Offline
This is a trend I’ve been seeing more and more of, and maybe it’s just my own social network, filled with Gen Yers who’ve been using technology most of their lives and been on most of the social networks for years.  The issue is most people are fed up with facebook, bored with foursquare, unfollowing over tweeters, and wanting to build stronger relationships with the closest people in their lives, offline but with some online assistance.  Startups like Path are starting to tap into this counter-social trend.

8.  I Want a Second Opinion
Regardless of whether I’m buying clothes or electronics, deciding what new restaurant to go to, or where I should stay on my vacation, I almost always want a second opinion from someone I trust.  These people are typically friends, but can also be experts in the area, which is why Consumer Reports, and entertainment and food critics have been so popular over the years.
There isn’t one startup that leads the pack in all these areas.  There are siloed websites and review sites all over mobile and the internet, but not one has figured it out yet.  A bunch of people smarter and more experience than me are working on this concept.

Namely, how do I tap into my social network, reach only those people who are the “experts” in that specific area, and get their opinion on the best way to proceed (buy or not, stay here or there, eat this or that, etc).

9.   What Else???
This list is incomplete and all that I could think of off the top of my head while writing this.  More to come as I ponder…

Note:  I’ve left off “I want to connect with others” because Facebook and Twitter pretty much have that market locked down, for the time being anyways…

10.  Steven Reiss’s 16 Basic Desires
From Wikipedia:

Starting from studies involving more than 6,000 people, Professor Steven Reiss has proposed a theory that find 16 basic desires that guide nearly all human behavior.  The desires are:

  • Acceptance, the need for approval
  • Curiosity, the need to learn
  • Eating, the need for food
  • Family, the need to raise children
  • Honor, the need to be loyal to the traditional values of one’s clan/ethnic group
  • Idealism, the need for social justice
  • Independence, the need for individuality
  • Order, the need for organized, stable, predictable environments
  • Physical activity, the need for exercise
  • Power, the need for influence of will
  • Romance, the need for sex
  • Saving, the need to collect
  • Social contact, the need for friends (peer relationships)
  • Status, the need for social standing/importance
  • Tranquility, the need to be safe
  • Vengeance, the need to strike back/to win
In this model, people differ in these basic desires. These basic desires represent intrinsic desires that directly motivate a person’s behavior, and not aimed at indirectly satisfying other desires. People may also be motivated by non-basic desires, but in this case this does not relate to deep motivation, or only as a means to achieve other basic desires.

- Sean