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 “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.



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.


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)

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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!